Last issue I wrote about the place of poetry — claiming that it necessarily existed on the margins, that obscurity and poetry were synonymous. I stand corrected.
This month marks the move of Saskatoon’s favourite weekly poetry series, Tonight It’s Poetry, from the cozy (but small) venue of Flint to the expansive, wooden halls of Lydia’s Pub on Broadway.
In only its second year, Tonight It’s Poetry has attracted young and old, emerging poets and legends of the Canadian scene.
“The bare bones of it is that Tonight It’s Poetry was started on the notion that emerging writers in this city needed to be brought together,” said Taylor Leedahl, who masterminded and continues to organize the event.
“By featuring established poets, the new writers are able to set goals for their work. I also wanted to create an impressive audience for poetry in Saskatoon to meet poets as they tour through the prairies to ensure that poets decide to return to the prairies. I wanted to build on our reputation as being a poetry hub.”
Aside from the increased floor space that Lydia’s provides, a few other small changes will be made to the event. A recommended donation of $3 to $5 will be asked for at the door.
“We have to implement donations to make up for the small funds we received from our previous venue,” said Leedahl. “However, I feel that with consistent and healthy attendance, we can actually put more money into the series which means bringing in more poets from further away and keeping us in line with reading and travel fee precedents set by the Canada Council for the Arts.”
Leedahl would also like to see funds raised for the Saskatoon Poetry Slam Team to send them to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Ottawa.
Other goals include publishing an anthology of emerging poets in Saskatoon and putting on a number of workshops. All things seem possible with the steadily increasing popularity of the event.
“Recently poetry has picked up in Saskatoon and I think our collective effort has a big hand in that. But it’s neither the poetry readings nor the slams that are solely responsible; it’s the combination of the two. I believe most people enjoy options and shifts of energy and that’s something we deliver.”
The last year and a half of Tonight It’s Poetry has showcased such well-known Canadian poets as Lorna Crozier and Susan Musgrave, and other exciting performances are scheduled for the upcoming readings.
“The show on the 17th is just the beginning of what will be very interesting about this series in its new location,” said Leedahl.
Saskatonian poet Mari-Lou Rowley will be featured in the upcoming event. Her reading will include a performance piece about the Tar Sands (previously aired on the CBC) backed by Tim Vaughn on guitar. Local artist Tiffany Paige (a.k.a. Lipstickface) will be performing at the series for the first time and Josh Forrest and Phil Legacy are pairing up to combine their poetry with beats. Also, U of S linguistic major Donovan Thorimbert is on the bill.
Whether you’re into slam poetry competitions or the standard readings, Tonight It’s Poetry has a laid-back atmosphere, which makes it welcoming to newcomers and is largely responsible for the success of the event.
Lydia’s would like to help contribute to this atmosphere and is making some small changes to accommodate the new event.
“Lydia’s is making additions to their wine and tea lists just to make sure that our crowd is comfortable and taken care of…. The venue’s support and appreciation makes all the difference and will make subtle positive changes to the events.”
image: Danni Siemens