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Sunday, 14 July 2013

More Tribute Readings for Milt planned: James Deahl

July 14, 2013

Dear Allan, Bruce, Carol, Chris, Conrad, David, Deborah, Ellen, George, Honey, Jeff, Jennifer, Karen, Mick, Norma, Patrick, Terry, and Trudi,

         Thank you for participating in the launch (Toronto) and celebration (Hamilton) of Milton Acorn’s In a Springtime Instant. Both events went really well. Q Space and the Artword Artbar were full of People’s Poets and Acorn supporters. I am not sure how many copies of In a Springtime Instant were sold by Terry at Q Space, but I sold all 5 copies I had at the Artword Artbar yesterday. Clearly People’s Poetry is very much alive and well in Canada.

         I plan more of these In a Springtime Instant celebrations. Ottawa and Guelph are good bets for the spring, perhaps during National Poetry Month.

         A wide spectrum of Acorn poems were read. I was interested to note that except for Norma and me (we read the same poems at both events) no one in Hamilton read a poem that had been read in Toronto. In total we heard 45 different poems read.

         We now need help spreading the word. We need book reviews. As far as I know, there have only been two reviews of In a Springtime Instant. Maybe you could review it or perhaps you know someone who would. From the public response so far, there is clear interest in the book. (I can assure you that it is rare to sell 5 books at a reading in Hamilton.) The problem is that most folks outside the greater GTA have no way of knowing the book exists. It is for sale in no bookshops.

         On a different matter, I am part of a 4-poet committee to find a new literary venue in Sarnia. Our first meeting is set for Wednesday. If we are successful in establishing a regular reading series, we will be looking for readers who wish to journey to Sarnia. Perhaps you?

Poetry Power!

         . . . James (Deahl)


1 comment:

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Thanks, James

you are a gracious host. It was honour to have been asked to participate in the Hammer at the Milt Acorn Tribute Readings. A delightful afternoon.

Yes, People's Poetry is flourishing, indeed. I certainly accept the call to write a review of the Selected Poems. I also will do my part to continue promoting People's Poetry in my part of the poetry cosmos (through Erland Lee) as you and Chris Faiers have done for years in yours. I do hope someone takes up the call to open up the Sarnia market for People's Poetry. I like this idea of rediscovering Canada through poetry.

It will be hard to compete with the mainstream crowd, connected as they've always been to academic presses and a well entrenched government 'grants' largesse. We must, to begin with, publish ourselves--perhaps an Anthology of People's Poetry Verse in the future, edited, compiled and printed by those of us blessed with our own publishing contacts. It's also imperative we promote and extend an awards structure (along the lines of he Shaunt Basmajian Chapbook Award) that will be every bit as prestigious as the Governor-General's, Leacock, Griffin awards. And perhaps, finally, a little social-political activism tied to People's Poetry wouldn't hurt (as Penn Kemp has recently done with her Layton tribute book and her own struggles to prevent development of green spaces in her beloved London).

I like the eclecticism of People's Poetry (unlike the rigid political correctness the State-poets of Canada Council must conform to!):Milt, for example, could be both Marxist and devoutly Christian (as I am, too). I like that People's Poetry welcomes many styles and won't be ever tailored to any one prevailing literary credo. I like its spontaneity, freshness and reverence for the poetic voice.

Although I'm the product of many influences I feel at home only in People's Poetry. It's people-driven in a truly Canadian sense of fellowship and love. In fact, were it not for the personal kindnesses of Katherine L. Gordon, I may not be writing at all. The CanLit establishment had been squeezing the literary life out of me for years. Let the self-absorption and ego of the kind we see in the mainstream (academic) crowds never find a place among People's Poetry.

Again, a special thanks to James for his Artword reading and to you, Chris, for publishing James letter.