Vancouver literary impressario Sean Cranbury was gracious enough to organize an event of stellar Vancouver poets focused around the Best Canadian Poetry anthology. Poets and audience gathered in the darkly subversive basement arts space of W2 Media Cafe for two hours of poetry readings, lively conversations, delicious food and drink, and good humour.
Poets featured in BCP, such as Vancouver Poet Laureate Evelyn Lau, and emerging writers Marita Daschel and Onjana Yangnghwe, read passionately from new work and from the anthology, including their own favourite selections from BCP poets from across the country. Marita Daschel even invited a friend up to the mic to deliver the joint voices of her BCP selection, "Maria and Sarah Lawrence," about two sisters and polygamous wives married to Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saints' Church. The rendition of the two nearly identical voices was suitably creepy.
Rob Taylor provided the bridge of the evening from BCP shortlisted poets to other invited Vancouver headliners as we joked on stage about his inclusion/exclusion from the anthology since one of his poems had made the longlist but not the shortlist. (A note for all longlisted poets: I did agonize over your poems, and I'm very proud of the 50 poems on the longlist and encourage all poetry enthusiasts to look up your poems!) Then I was introduced to the intriguing works of Timothy Shay (who apparently published more than any other poet during one year in the 80s and then decided on nearly fifteen years of complete publishing silence), the vibrant Daniela Elza, and mischievous Warren Dean Fulton, all extremely different writers who each brought passion and humour to their readings and were also gracious enough to read favourites from the BCP anthology.
Two poets also honoured the life and work of recently deceased Nobel-prize winning Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (one of my all-time favourite poets as well. RIP.) Other notable poet and novelist audience members included Dennis E. Bolen, John Donlan, and Catherine Owen.
I look forward to the future publications of this varied and exciting group of Vancouver poets! Thank you again for your hospitality, and for the margaritas following the event! I hope that we can make more Toronto-Vancouver literary connections through evenings such as this one.