Harbourfront/NOW Magazine Open Stage Night 3

Hi everyone.

Just a heads up, Harbourfront has posted the readers for its third annual open stage night. This is a fun evening, it feels like something akin to poetry speed-dating: very retail, very quick-n-dirty.

The list is picked at random from a larger pool of applicants, which depending on who you ask either results in a fairer final twenty, a more variegated final twenty, or just a worse one than if it was filtered through a panel of judges. I’m in camps one and two, but understand the position of #3.

I’m hosting again this year. Come and watch me wear a suit. It costs $8, but most of you reading this (students, publishing people, authors) can probably get in for free. March 30th, at the Harbourfront Centre. Get your tix here.

Here’s the list. Apparently there’s one more reader that’s yet to be revealed. I hope it’s Robert Frost.

Gloria Alvernaz-Mulcahy
Gary Barwin
Jill Battson
Ronna Bloom
Heather Cadsby
Edward Carson
Kildare Dobbs
Rocco de Giacomo
David A. Groulx
Aurian Haller
David Hickey
Inge Israel
Jim Johnstone
Kath MacLean
Nathaniel G. Moore
John Oughton
Ruth Roach Pierson
Souvankham Thammavongsa
Zachariah Wells

Explore posts in the same categories: Events, Poetry Education

18 Comments on “Harbourfront/NOW Magazine Open Stage Night 3”

  1. Jump for the banana, monkeys! Jump! Jump!

  2. voxpopulism Says:

    Brave words from a guy who once judged the GGs, no?

  3. Different bunch of bananas, and you know it. It’s a lit festival that makes poets cage match/beg for one spot. Not a dedicated poetry award.

  4. voxpopulism Says:

    I understand that I’m a biased interpretor, but this event has to sin-eat for a lot of larger ills that it really has no part of. It’s not the IFOA’s fault that nobody comes to poetry readings at lit festivals. It’s a nice gesture, a fun night, and I can vouch that absolutely nobody involved cares, worries, or even brings up in-passing the competitive element of it.

    And I think that the third sentence in your above reply, and the second half of sentence #2, are pretty much saying the same thing. Chill out, Royce Gracie. Ooga ooga.

  5. voxpopulism Says:

    Most incredulously, I once heard someone tsking at this event, and then later on the conversation saying how much they were looking forward to this: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=185636071471550

  6. voxpopulism Says:

    And to qualify, I’m not hating on the death match thing. I like both. But, I also like bananas, monkeys, AND cage fighting. Hey, maybe I have one of those “authoritarian personalities” I read about in skool.

  7. How about just including poets in the “general population”, but not positioning them as opening acts, charity cases, or hidden audience-bound medicine? Did they used to do that? It’s a festival that started as a poetry festival, for chrissake.

  8. voxpopulism Says:

    Hmm. I’m pretty sure it goes in alphabetical order at the IFOA. Or at least, I remember correctly, I was third of four when I read. Perhaps they’ve switched it up over the years.

  9. Chris Banks Says:

    This does feel like tokenism to me. I’m not sure we can ever be included in the “general population” George. Much better to have our own 3 day poetry festival with an international element held in the Spring, seperate from the IFOA,maybe in conjunction with Poetry month. Surely, there is demand for such a festival in the GTA area.Precedence could be given to poets launching Spring books. This would be great publicity for small presses and a terrific opportunity to hear and meet lots of poets without the “cage match” element. Was there not a Blue Mountain Poetry Festival years ago? As to who would organize such a festival, well maybe that is where this whole idea falls down. I’m not very good at organizing things.

  10. Sadly, before it even gets to the tokenism stage, Chris, it’s just a ghetto.

    Jake’s right, “people” (ie, the general public) won’t attend an all- or even mostly-poetry event. That’s why sprinkling them throughout the lineup is what should be done. It worked for years and years. Why stop now, except for ideological reasons?

    No need to reinvent the wheel and start a new festival. There are too many damn festivals as it is. Just recognize the right the genre has to a decent audience (esp when so much public subsidy goes into it) and that the genre’s diminished fortunes of the last quarter century are a phase that needs to be resolutely bridged, not accepted.

    Or maybe we should cut fiction from the programming once the readership drops below a certain ratio against non-fiction? Or maybe we can just change the name of the festival to reflect the reality: the International Festival of Some Authors?

    I’m willing to bet audiences who show up to hear M Atwood and Roddy Doyle and Nino Ricci read don’t leave complaining that there was a poet on the bill. In fact, I bet most of them either go away having enjoyed it and learned something or forgetting it entirely.

    But I do bet that publishers and booksellers complain that certain prose authors can’t get in (and therefore sell books after the reading) because the space is being taken up by a poet who doesn’t sell books.

    I also bet it’s easier to secure private funding with recognizable names like Rowling, King, Atwood, etc., and that if you want to then add lesser known, but equally good authors that there isn’t a lot of space left. Not sure how to address all that.

  11. Julie Wilson Says:

    That this is the 3rd year and the event itself goes by a different name each year says to me that while, agreed, it’s a great night (and I always leave inspired and with about 3-4 books in hand), it doesn’t feel like the festival knows what it wants from this, or that it trusts the potential outcome.

    If it was acknowledged as a gesture, I’d prefer that to copy that suggests this is a super opportunity for poets—multiple books in, in some cases—to finally get their shot at the podium. My understanding—again, as someone who greatly enjoys the event—is that participation is as much about being able to put “Authors at Harbourfront” on your reading resume as it is about celebrating a community. I find that spirit tends to kick in mostly during the event itself, something, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to extend into the lobby much less past it.

    Like unicorns.

  12. voxpopulism Says:

    I’ve noticed the same thing too, Julie. The event itself is incredibly uncynical, even if it’s grown out of a somewhat cynical idea.

  13. Carey Says:

    Are you really the host? On the Harbourfront website you are “related content.”


  14. According to French criticism, Jake is “related content” to just about everything…

  15. poetry is totally mainstream now and anyone who doubts that is living in a vacuum cleaner.

    its not marginalized its one of the top 4 literary genres on the planet.


    planetary poetry month
    griffin prize
    poetry readings portrayed in films like she’s all that
    rap music
    james franco / howl (he’s closer to canadian poetry than you actually know…)
    jewel’s poetry book
    libraries carrying poetry books
    canada council giving poets money
    poet’s family’s coming to their readings

    and also quit stealing ufc/wwf jargon to describe or associate or demonstrate a point in regard to this straw-grab event. nothing remotely exciting will happen. if poets actually did fight on stage for a spot at IFOA it would not be good and would demean “us” even more.

    suck it! and grow the farg up you crazy white male bastards

  16. voxpopulism Says:

    One thousand points to the post above.

  17. Ah, yes. White male bastards. Conversation closed. 1000 pts.

  18. RM Vaughan Says:

    I would go to this event, but Harbourfront is really far away and hard to get to, and also rather ugly.

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