Category: Poetry

Farewell Thursdays Writing Collective

Thursdays

With the end of the Thursdays Writing Collective coming soon in April 2018, I’ve decided to re-post my earlier blog from 2016 about this unique collective.

Discovering Thursdays Writing Collective

During each session, we spend half the time writing in response to prompts and the other half, especially before group performances, workshopping pieces and instructing fellow writers about time, place, format, and so on. However, I quickly found out that the collective is so much more than a writing group. It’s a true creative hub. Published authors visit frequently. Kate Braid, the poet, and her friend, Clyde Reed, a jazz musician, came to read us their poetry and improvised with a double bass on the spot. Clyde allowed us to read our own pieces while he played his mesmerising bass to accompany our words.

At most meetings, we share books and poems by authors we revere and it always serves to be an enlightening experience. For example, we discussed the Devil in Deerskins, by Katherine Swarthile, whose work is among the earliest published mementos on the first nations’ themes. Katherine Swarthile, the daughter of Anahareao, actually visited us. Her environmental message to the group gave further impetus and context to her book, which we all read in anticipation of her visit.

We also receive regular invitations to read poetry at spoken word events around town, including the Verses Festival and the Vancouver Poetry Slam. The Vancouver Co-op radio offered us spots on their poetry show Wax Poetix. Pamela Post, a journalist from the CBC national radio show, The Current, visited several times. She recorded hours of readings, including a story by one of our own, Henry Doyle, that documented our premiere concerts at University of British Columbia School of Music and the first encounter of Henry with composer Lucas Oickle.

Over time, I began to understand what it was that I couldn’t find anywhere else when I was searching for a writing group. The Collective acts as a single soul. My previous writing groups were wonderful places of exploration and were right for me at the time, but we rarely got together outside of class. This made it feel more like a language course where people mind their own business and go about their lives. However, Thursday’s Collective is a community. We chat during breaks, nibbling at fruit and veggies. The volunteers work hard in the background and keep us informed on new developments. Thanks to fees from the paid classes, they are able to do unpaid classes for people in shelters, prisons, or treatment centres. The members of the Collective have input into the decisions about the performances that we take part in, cash for readers, and choice of projects. Democratic votes about these decisions follow after group discussions. If someone read at a recent event, another writer is encouraged to read next. It reminds me of one of those artist collectives one might read about from the past, where creatives managed their own promotions and shared the same building, using it for studios and shows.

The Collective is a unified community of creative minds.

We are like a band with a leader who sets the tone, direction, and vision. Elee Kralji Gardiner—writer and editor—was this leader until 2016. Elee was our facilitator, manager, and director. Elee unified the Collective at the meetings and did a tremendous amount of work in the background, outside the meetings, to help us grow our work and allow the collective to thrive. With Elee at the helm, every year, the Collective also publishes an anthology. Last year’s (2014) theme was Music and Art Song.

In the history of music, Art Song played an important role. Loosely defined as a musicalized poem, typically performed by a singer and a piano, this form of music combines the work of a poet, composer, singer, and pianist into a stand-alone artistic statement. UBC graduate composers have set eleven of our poems to music, and their fellow student singers and pianists performed them at two April premieres in the UBC Roy Barnett Hall and St James Anglican Church at Cordova Street. The poets introduced their work and read the text before each performance.

We launched the “Voice to Voice” – our art song anthology – at the end of June 2015 in the Lost & Found Café. The book contained not only art songs, but also poems, stories, songs, and memoirs by our writers. An Indiegogo campaign funded the book and others supported it in many ways, including the Canada Council for the Arts, UBC School of Music, Peter Wall Centre, Instruments of Change, Carnegie Community Centre and SFU’s Writer’s Studio. Dwayne Woloshyn painted the book cover praised in the Keremeos Review magazine.

From September 2016, we launched a year of Visualizing the Word, which means writing about visual art, inspiring it and getting inspiration from it, under the new director, Amber Dawn – our alumni – and co-facilitators Curtis and Cara.

 

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Thank you all Thursday-ers.

Annual review: Summaries, essays and productive conferences

The post on 27 deaths out of 100 people receiving methadone in primary care over 17 years was the most frequently visited of the year but also the gloomiest.
I’ve had an inspired year here at the Be-seen, with a brilliant string of posts about new research articles ranging from a progressive post from the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine on improving writing groups for addiction researchers, to emerging treatments for cocaine addiction, and along the same theme a series covering my topic of interest in drinking by people who also use other drugs. Here’s the list of new paper summaries in chronological order:
Summaries of new papers 
* First or senior author papers
In sum, the main themes of this year were not only summaries of new papers but also essays on writing and conference reports.
Conferences April-June

With three new entries on academic and cultural meetings, these may be of great interest to my readers fascinated by communication in science and art and blending the boundaries between the two disciplines:

Write well
The fastest start is to listen to patients’ stories – make evidence based responses part of your toolkit, whether it’s responding to the iatrogenic overdose epidemic or writing effective paragraphs.  Secondly, consider making scientific writing something that sticks to the brain. Have a try at writing groups or writing classes – they can help. Have the courage to promote simplicity of writing in your field. I’m positive this is not all that I will have to say on the topic – watch this space.
Essays

Literary editors who helped
Adam Nanji, Vancouver is Awesome http://vancouverisawesome.com/
Tara Siebarth and Ashleigh VanHouten, University Affairs www.universityaffairs.ca
Stephen Strauss, Canadian Science Writers http://sciencewriters.ca/4072583
Journal editors who helped
Twelve addiction journal editors helped with publishing 16 papers:
Roger Jones, BJGP www.bjgp.org
Jeffrey Samet, Addict Sci& Clin Practice https://ascpjournal.biomedcentral.com/
Richard Saitz, J Addict Medicine www.journals.lww.com/journaladdictionmedicine/Pages/default.aspx
Richard Pates, J Substance Use www.tandfonline.com/loi/ijsu20
Tim Rhodes, J Int Drug Policy www.ijdp.org 
Michael Morgan, Addiction www.addictionjournal.org
John Lyne, Irish J Psychol Medicine www.journals.cambridge.org/article_S0790966700017535
Pedro Ruiz, Addict Disorders& Their Treatment www.journals.lww.com/addictiondisorders/Pages/default.aspx
Donata Kurpas, BMC Family Practice www.bmcfampract.biomedcentral.com
Axel Klein, Drugs and Alcohol Today www.emeraldinsight.com/toc/dat/15/4
Wim van den Brink, European Addict Research www.karger.com/EAR/
Jelle Stoffers, Eur J Gen Practice www.tandfonline.com/loi/igen20
In the meantime, I also continued to write in Slovak magazines and in my community of writers. In Slovak, I wrote for Slovo and Zpravodaj edited by Jozef Starosta and Marta Jamborova, respectively.
Early in the January and late in December, I wrote poems with my community of writers from the Thursdays Writing Collectivefacilitated by the fantastic Elee Kralji Gardiner and Amber Dawn. During the year, I wrote with the writers from the Writer’s Studio. Some of those poems landed on stage of the Vancouver Poetry Slam and on their video channel.
Thanks to all of my readers. It’s been over four years for the Be-seen blog now and I owe a lot to the editors and readers. I hope readers will continue to feel that this is a resource for them to visit and engage with.


Alcohol: poets’ love affair

Spoken word events often take place in bars. Poets who perform at and attend these events are over the legal limit for drinking. But what if an underage poet wants to join them? Their chances to avoid the alcohol culture are grim.

Poetry slam at Accent’s drink-free venue


Young talented poets are forced to perform in alcohol temples. There, they listen to the established artists talking about their drinking. They watch older poets drink one beer after another, which is nothing new in the poetry art. Poetry has a long-established love affair with alcohol, not only in Ireland. For example, W. B. Yeats, an Irish poet and playwright, would have had experiences with the drinking culture. Perhaps they contributed to his Drinking Song:

“Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.”
Being open about alcohol is good – we live in an alcohol-soaked society after all. Denial and silence doesn’t work. Harm reduction approaches to drug use works. Adolescence is a period of experimentation which includes drugs and other risky behaviors. Parents of teen poets could use, for example, Marsha Rosenbaum’s Safety First reality based approach. This approach helps teenagers to make responsible decisions by honest, science-based information, encouraging moderation, understanding consequences and putting safety first.
In addition to education, drink-free venues for arts and poetry events should be promoted. For example, Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge is an alcohol-free place in Dublin City centre. It was created by Anna Young as a cozy environment for people to meet and as an alternative to a pub. Before they opened, there weren’t many places where you could buy coffee late at night in Dublin. It is the only café in Dublin opened till 11 pm. Accents is the home to two poetry events, a poetry slam competition on the first Sunday of the month (See picture), and A-Musing gig, Stand-up comedy and poetry night on the last Sunday of every month.
I hope that there will be more venues like this for aspiring poets. In the meantime, support a poet by “buying him or her beer”.

7th All Ireland Poetry Slam Championship final

Monday 9th December 2013 – 7th All Ireland Poetry Slam Championship final

Venue: North Beach Poetry Nights in The Crane Bar, Sea Road, at 6.30pm

Galway, Connacht

Ireland’s eight 2013/14 slam champions – 2 each who won the 4 regional heats – go head-to-head for the prestigious title of All Ireland Live Poetry Slam Champion 2013/14.

Two weeks in advance of the slam, the information about this prime event of Irish poetry is scarce.

As a response to this vacuum, this blog collates everything that I could find today on the web about this slam.

The facebook pageof the slam describes: “Open live poetry competition. Six province heats. Eight poets, four Province Champions, compete in rotating All Ireland poet slam final. Samhain, Nov/Dec. Eight poets, two from Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, winners of open-heats in Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, the sixth all Ireland slam championship final, the second in Munster, Samhain, Oct/Nov, Cork.”

“The All Ireland Poetry Slam Championships are in their seventh year. We began in 2007, and since then have held annual provincial heats in six cities, Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, which return eight finalists, two from each province, who then go forward into a rotating final modelled on the idea of the old ollamh (poetry professor) circuit.

The competition is run by Ireland’s most well respected grass roots poetry organisers with a wealth of experience in hosting live poetry events across the island of Ireland. By the third year we have been pretty much well established and the competition is wholly democratic, transparent, and open to all.

Regional heats are held in the above six cities at the end of the summer and this year’s turn at hosting the final is Connacht, in Galway on 16th December, hosted by North Beach Nights’ John Walsh.

Last year’s final was the biggest yet, with 250 people witnessing it in Cypress Avenue, Cork, hosted by Ó Bhéal. Last year we also published, for the first time, the 14 poems recited on the night, in a special edition run of 100 chapbooks. We managed this because we crowd sourced 1000 euro funding. Up till last year the competition had been run on the goodwill and generosity of its organisers and so this year is hoping to secure funding that will raise the profile even more and make the event more visible.

A wide range of poets have won, some going on to bigger and brighter things, 2010 Champion Colm Keegan is a regular on RTE Arena, along with previous Leinster champions Karl Parkinson and John Cummins.

Two winners, 2008 champion Donal O’ Siadhach and 2011 champion Séamuas Barra Ó Suilleabháin, won reciting as Gaeilge.

This competition is a genuine grass roots phenomenon, enabling poets to share and compete in a truly democratic forum and has played a vital part in many poets development. Most countries national Slam projects are well supported by the various arts councils but Ireland is special in that it has evolved from the ground up, with no funding whatsoever until last year; proving our commitment to grass roots poetry advocacy.

The regional organisers are:

Source: unnamed alcohol industry

 

“Congratulations to the new 2013/14 Leinster Poetry Slam Champions John Cummins and John Moynes (watch rec. below), who will join: 

2013/13 Munster Slam Champions

Fergus Costello (Tipperary)

Julie Fields (Cork)

 
Ulster Slam Champions 

Colin Hassard (winner of the Belfast heat) 

Geraldine O’Kane (winner of Derry/Londonderry heat))

Connacht Slam Champions

To Be Decided

@The 2013 All Ireland Poetry Slam Final, North Beach Nights, Galway, Monday 9th December 2013.

Thanks very much to Aidan Murphy of Monday Echo for organising the event and Kit Fryatt of Wurm Press for co-hosting with Aidan.” source: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ireland-Poetry-Slam/338399146209479

“I just got confirmation of the date from John Walsh for the 7th All Ireland Slam Final and it is Monday December 9th 2013.

9th December 2013 – 7th All Ireland Poetry Slam Championship final, North Beach Nights, Galway, Connacht. Ireland’s eight 2013/14 slam champions, two each who won the Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster Heats, go head to head for what’s in the pot and a prestigious title of All Ireland Live Poetry Slam Champion 2013/14.” source: https://www.facebook.com/desmond.swords

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