Bill Kennedy Talk at TNSOW on Saturday
Bill Kennedy, Scream Literary Festival Director and one of my favourite local poets, is giving a presentation on David Antin’s “what it means to be avant garde” this coming Saturday, from noon til 5, at BookThug headquarters, 283 College Street. Tickets are twenty bucks, and include a delightful Emergency Response Unit chapbook printing of Antin’s spoken word piece.
So, why am I going to a talk about a book I’ve never read written by a poet I’m only passably familiar with? Because the speaker was kind enough to invite me, even to go so far as to promise to pay my way (Bill: I bought my own ticket, but expect eventual yeast-based remuneration). The reaction to my post last week was interesting enough at first, but I don’t know… I kind of burn out on this stuff. I don’t want to be held up as a representative for an extremity I in no way feel a part of, simply because I asked some rather innocuous questions of the other extremity. I consider myself, when presented with the fifth grade paper-mache diorama that is the “Canadian poetry spectrum”, to be a moderate. Albeit an occasionally radicalized one. I’d like to be able to draw from as many traditions as possible, and to do so without aligning myself with too much of anything. Occasionally, I get a little defensive about this. People don’t become carpenters to express through their work their adoration for the hammer. Ideally, we should be granting each other access to as many different tools as possible, shouldn’t we? Knowing that the tools, the traditions, aren’t what matter, in the end. The point is to build beautiful houses.
So, on that giddily naive note, I’m going to this thing on Saturday. Maybe you’ll come too? I refuse to self-present as any sort of ambassador of poetic orthodoxy. I am, not to dwell on one of my own reviews (especially such a mixed one! ) someone who has been identified as a post-modernist in print on at least one occasion. But, I have faith in the presenter and those who would want to come hear him speak, so I’m confident that such a simplistic summary of the panel and what happened after isn’t forthcoming. I hope I’ll like the book.
All this being said, with the free, publicly extended, invite, I have thought a bit about whether I’m being cast as the Toronto Poetry Cult equivalent of the guy this song was oft-rumoured to be written about. And no, not Phil’s wife. The other guy. It had something to do with drowning, I’ve been told. But seriously, kids. I hope to learn stuff. I’m going in with a closed mouth and an open brain, like Ray Liotta at the end of Hannibal. You should come along, too. Okay?