Bon giorno, buenos dias, bon jour, wie gehts, salaam, shalom, kalimera, namaste, migwich, ni hau.
OK, that proves we’re cosmopolitan. But why YETI?
YETI, in case you haven’t been informed yet by book, blog or print and broadcast media, is the Himalayan cousin of SASQUATCH, that legendary inhabitant of British Columbia and adjacent portions of the U.S.A., which our Writers’ Performance Series long ago adopted as our totem animal. By calling our blog YETI, we are therefore announcing to the world that we have a foot (a big foot) on more than one continent. If anyone out there in Cyberland has heard of or sighted any sasquatch-like sorts on any of the other continents or islands of the sea, by all means let us know. We are in an expansive mood.
Of course if you’re meeting us for the first time, you might justifiably ask: Why SASQUATCH? Our home is, after all, Ottawa, and there aren’t supposed to be any sasquatches in these parts. But we have plenty of forest in our general area, where a sasquatch family migrating from B.C., Washington or Oregon, could find plenty of cover in which to hide, eat, sleep, make love, raise little sasquatches, and avoid those smaller and less hairy two-legged mammals that are making such a mess of the planet, and which sasquatches (whether they exist or not) have managed to avoid, barring the odd “sighting”, for millennia.
An example of the longevity of the sasquatch legend is a somewhat over the top theory that the evil monsters, Grendel and his mother, in the Early English epic poem, “Beowolf”, may have been sasquatches defending their territory and satiating their hunger, their favorite dish being the aforementioned mammal, a habit that the Good Guy of the tale, Beowolf, put a stop to.
Our story is much more recent and less gastronomically original, but it has its aura of suspense too. Will a real 500 pound-plus sasquatch show up one day at one of our readings to find out what is going on under the sasquatch label, big feet pounding thunderously as he or she approaches our cozy den? There is an amusing poem by Ottawa poet George Betts on our web page that suggests this possibility, as well as offering an original take on the Elvis epic. (Or if it isn�t there yet, it will be soon).
-To find out more about the past of SASQUATCH, The Series, please click right here on the word history.
Today, after various changes of venue and countless comings and goings of writers and other artists who have shared their works with us and our audiences, we are holding regular readings (usually with musicians participating) twice every month on the second and fourth Sunday (except during July and August, or if one of our Sundays coincides with a major holiday) starting at two in the afternoon in the Downstairs Room of the Royal Oak II pub, 161 Laurier Avenue East, near the University of Ottawa. Usually our readings last until four thirty or five.
People are welcome to drop in or leave at any time during the program, for we are not a school or a church. But if you want to put your name down for the Open Mic, better be there at two sharp. The Royal Oak is of course fully licensed and has an ample and varied food menu. We do not charge an admission fee, but pass El Sombrero for voluntary contributions which pay for our web site and posters.
In our blog we will tell you about our previous reading and the people who participated, and also describe the books, chapbooks, CD’s, broadsheets and posters that we are offering on our FOR SALE table. You will also find a Guest Book on our web page, where you can enter whatever you wish to say to us.
-The SASQUATCH reading on Sunday, February 12, was attended by about thirty people. Our special guest was a lady of great talent and beauty. Evelyn Voigt was born in what is now Tanzania on a coffee and tea plantation. African images and words weave magical and mysterious patterns in many of her poems. She is fluent in Swahili and has often visited Africa on behalf of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Evelyn has performed her “soundscapes”, as she calls her poems, which are rich in subtle images of nature and the human condition and are often accompanied by music, in Zimbabwe, Romania, Tanzania, Kosovo, and of course Canada.
The poems she recited at the last SASQUATCH, with brilliant guitar accompaniment by Rene Gely, a native Ottawan with an international reputation as an arranger, performer and teacher, covered a wide territory of body and soul, ranging from the joyous freedom of a child growing up in the African bush, to a sadly regimented little girl sent to a Dickensian boarding school, to a sometimes world-weary contemporary woman, cherishing times of peaceful withdrawal from a troubled planet.
Kulala-kulala-.la-la-..” Evelyn chanted softly in Swahili, describing a state of dreamlike enchantment, and we were enchanted.”
As always, there was a varied group of people who performed during the two Open Mic periods.
Carl Edgar Law, a Valley poet, read poems of sensitive or trenchant interior and exterior dialogue. It was not only his first reading at SASQUATCH, but his first reading in 41 years, proving that it is never too late for a poet to give wings to the spoken word.
Susan Woodsworth amusingly described the awesome prospect of a high school reunion after a long separation from the place and people involved.
Maureen Glaude offered several beautiful tanka, haiku, and one free verse poem, on themes such as love, winter and the half-moon.
Lynne Alsford showed that she can do haiku and write about cats with the same ease and eloquence with which she deals with themes such as sex, the Virgin Mary, and the sea.
Chris Sorrenti offered a moving tribute to Irving Layton and a poem celebrating Ottawa’s laid-back relations between the capital’s many ethnicities.
John Woodsworth, a poet and musician equally fluent in English and Russian expressed once again his versatility, having read two poems set in Moscow, and sang, accompanying himself on his balalaika, the famous Russian ballad, “Katyusha”.
Sandra Howard showed us once again the extraordinarily delicacy and imagery of her work, truly poetry that one can “see”.
Sharon Liu performed, in English, sijo, which are brief vividly evocative poems in accordance with ancient Japanese tradition, and are the form from which haiku developed.
Jacqueline Zena presented haiku and also a rhymed poem. Her theme was “”winners”, a heartfelt celebration of people who do not give up.
Michel Sincennes read translations of “ghazals”, an exquisite form of poetry, much cultivated in the lands of Islam for many centuries. The ghazals he read were translations from Urdu to English.
Kevin Dooley brought the music of another language, strangely familiar yet unfamiliar: Gaelic, in its Irish form; a language more ancient than any other living European language, except perhaps Lithuanian or Basque. Yet the poems he read, followed by English translations, were startlingly modern in theme and were written by Irish women employing the old tongue in a contemporary context.
Nancy Rattle, a Valley poet reading at SASQUATCH for the first time, recited strongly and earthily passionate poetry with verve and eloquence.
Finally, Julie Loper, a much-loved former resident of Ottawa, here with her husband, Don, for a short visit (they now live in Comox, B.C.), read several of her powerfully evocative poems, and concluded with an old favorite, delivered in a Franco-Canadian accent, about a lonely hunter living in the woods with his true love, his rifle, and their encounter with a big, aggressive bear.
Thank you, Julie, for not making it a sasquatch.
Our next reading, on Sunday, February 26, will be at the same time and place, barring extraterrestrial invasion, an avian flu quarantine, or the declaration of a state of national mourning for the defeat of Canada’s men’s hockey team at the Turin Olympics (but bravissimo to the Canadian women for their many victories in various events, and also to the Canadian men who managed to bring home some metal!), namely at two p.m. in the Downstairs Room of the Royal Oak II pub, 161 Laurier Avenue East, near the University iof Ottawa. Our featured guest is Carlinda D’Alimonte, who is currently on a book tour with her collection of poetry entitled, “Now That We Know Who We Are”, published by Black Moss Press. Her reading is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council of the Arts.
Be there. Ciao.