Reading your work in front of a live audience may seem like a daunting task, but live literature readings are a great way to get involved in the local arts community.
The River Volta Reading Series is a monthly event founded by masters of fine arts writing students Sara-Jane Gloutnez and Chelsea Forbes who are both in their final year at the University of Saskatchewan.
Hosted by d’Lish Cafe, this month’s show featured a handful of current MFA writing students sharing their works of poetry and literary and genre fiction with an intimate audience of fellow Saskatoon writers and art enthusiasts. The event also featured an open mic at the end of the night, which invited those present to showcase their own talents as well.
D’Lish Cafe is the perfect venue with its warm, inviting and friendly atmosphere. The entrance draws you into the main area, where floor-to-ceiling mirrors make the space seem infinitely large and yet intimate and familiar. Their delicious menu doesn’t hurt either and their extravagant desserts make for just as good eye candy as they do delicacies.
Event co-ordinators Courtney Loberg, Nicole Haldoupis and Leah MacLean-Evans discussed how the River Volta Reading Series brings people together each month.
“We wanted another way to find people of the community and let them get involved,” Loberg said. “There’s so many writers in Saskatoon, but people attend from all over the place.”
Writers shared their works-in-progress of poetry and prose ranging from heartfelt drama to audacious comedy to space fantasy. Writer and actor Brent McFarlane, a first year MFA writing student at the U of S, brought the house down with his hilarious piece that can best be described as an absurdist breakdown of the very format of intelligible writing. Writers referenced each other’s work and shared their love of literature over coffee and wine. Many of the works were extraordinarily funny and helped establish a laid-back atmosphere in which anything could happen — on the page at least.
“There’s lots of different genres,” Loberg said. “We feature people that it’s obvious don’t have any books out yet.”
Gauging from the reception of the audience, many contributors to the River Volta Reading Series could have opportunities to publish their fiction in the near future.
The event co-ordinators also discussed how writing events often get dismissed as high-brow, pretentious indulgences of more artistic-minded individuals of the community. The equally romanticized and criticized cliché of the manic-depressive alcoholic writer hanging out with beat-poets just doesn’t reflect the wide variety of people who have an interest in literature, as evidenced by the River Volta Reading Series.
Haldoupis and MacLean-Evans took turns introducing the writers and it was clear that they are passionate about Saskatoon’s culture. The best thing about the series is that it has feature nights for both graduate students and established authors, meaning the roster is always changing but the heart of the program stays the same. No matter what they’re writing or if they’re just there for a good time, everyone shares a love of language and creativity.
According to Loberg, the intent of the River Volta Reading Series is to gather people with various backgrounds together. Current writing students are more than welcome among both their peers and veteran writers. The opportunity to read in front of a live audience is invaluable and exciting. The River Volta Reading Series is a perfect venue for confidence building, both for fledgling authors and experienced poets alike.
More information about this free monthly series may be found on the River Volta Reading Series Facebook page.