Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Readings Sept 7: A new season of LitLive

Rob Colman reading last season

LitLive begins its 21st season with six diverse writers reading from their books of short stories, poetry, novels, and possibly from new work.

It's really quite remarkable that we've have the opportunity to hear such writers each month—and for free!—in Hamilton, Ontario.

Our guests tell us that they love to read for LitLive. They tell us that our audiences are enthusiastic, receptive, and intelligent. They tell us that they like that we feature a wide range of genres and styles of writing and often mix major literary icons with emerging writers. They like the venue, Homegrown Hamilton, its ambience and its great food and drink. They find our hosts entertaining and well prepared. They like that we have a book table of their works for sale. They like the dapper sense of dress of the author of these blog posts. Ok. I lied about that last part.

But it is true that this season promises to be a excellent one, beginning with our first reading in September. Below you'll find bios about those readers and a list of ALL THE UPCOMING READERS for the entire season.

We hope to see you there!


Shannon Maguire grew up on the mouth of Lake Superior and now lives in Guelph Ontario. Her poetry has appeared in CV2, Ditch, Gultch: An Assemblage of Poetry and Prose (2009), as well as other places. She is the author of three chapbooks: Vowel Wolves & Other Knots (2011), Fruit Machine (2012), and A Web of Holes (2012). A selection of poems from fur(l) parachute, her debut book (BookThug 2013) was a finalist for the Manitoba Magazine Awards in the category of Best Poem or Suite of Poems (2012) and it was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry (2011). fur(l) parachute was a finalist for the 2014 Goldie Award for Poetry. Her second collection of poetry is forthcoming from BookThug in April 2015.

David B. Goldstein's poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies throughout North America, including The Paris Review, The Malahat Review, filling Station, CV2, Epoch, Harp & Altar, Jubilat, 6x6, and Octopus. His first chapbook, Been Raw Diction, was published by Dusie Press in 2006. As a literary critic, food writer, and translator, he has published on a wide range of subjects, including Shakespeare, contemporary poetry, translation, cannibalism, philosophies of food, and the politics of Martha Stewart. His first book of criticism, Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare's England, is due out this fall. His translations from Italian poetry appear in The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry, among other publications. Goldstein lives with his family in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor of English at York University. His most recent poetry collection is Laws of Rest (BookThug, 2014)

Ellen S. Jaffe's second poetry collection, Skinny-Dipping with the Muse, was recently published  by Guernica Editions.  Ellen's previous books include poetry, a young-adult novel, and a book about writing, all of which have won awards.  Her work has been translated into Finnish and published in journals and anthologies.  She grew up in New York, moved to Canada in 1979, and has lived in Hamilton for 15 years.  Ellen is Hamilton Contributing Editor for Great Lakes Review, a journal for writers on both sides of the border. She teaches writing with Living for the Arts, and has received grants for writing and arts education from the Ontario Arts Council.  She and Lil Blume have co-organized three Jewish Literary Festivals in Hamilton.

Hugh Cook earned an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.  He’s retired from teaching Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at Redeemer University College in Ancaster. Hugh’s first book was Cracked Wheat and Other Stories (1985).  His second book, a novel titled The Homecoming Man, was published in 1989.  Then came a book of linked stories titled Home In Alfalfa, which was awarded first prize in the 1998 City of Hamilton Book Awards for fiction. Hugh’s latest book is a novel titled Heron River.

K.D. Miller’s stories and essays have appeared in a variety of Canadian literary magazines. Her work has been anthologized in Oberon’s Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology, and has been broadcast by the CBC. She has published three collections of stories: A Litany in Time of Plague, Give Me Your Answer and The Other Voice; an essay collection, Holy Writ: A Writer Reflects on Creation and Inspiration; and a novel, Brown Dwarf.  Her latest collection of stories, All Saints, was published by Biblioasis in 2014.  All Saints was long-listed for the 2014 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and has been nominated for The Story Prize.

Laurelyn Whitt lives in Minnedosa, Manitoba and is a Professor of Native Studies at Brandon University. Her poems have appeared in various North American journals, including Nimrod International, The Tampa Review, Puerto Del Sol, The Malahat Review, PRISM International, Rattle, Descant and The Fiddlehead. She is the author of four award-winning poetry collections. Her recent book, Tether (Seraphim Editions), won the 2013 Lansdowne Prize. To tether is to join or hold together. Many things serve to tether: memory and history; language and listening; gravity and touch. Ultimately, tethering has to do with coherence and continuation, rather than separation or dissipation.


Ellen Jaffe
David Goldstein
Shannon Maguire
Laurelyn Whitt
K.D. Miller
Hugh Cook
Richard Scarsbrook
Paula Eisenstein
Michael Mirolla
Julie Joosten
Sharon Baltman
Spencer Gordon
dee Hobsbawn-Smith
Katerina Fretwell
Stan Rogal
Angela Rawlings
Jane Eaton Hamilton
David Chariandy
Jean Rae Baxter
John Terpstra
Waheed Rabbani
Shane Rhodes
Elizabeth Bachinsky
Kerry-Lee Powell
Phlip Arima
Eric Bronson
Bonnie Lendrum
Kate Hargreaves
M.A.C. Farrant
Kathy Page
Jim Nason
Bill Kennedy
Gary Barwin
Elisabeth de Mariaffi
George Murray
Nancy Jo Cullen
Diane Schoemperlen
Ray Robertson
Ariel Gordon
Andrew Forbes
Patrick Friesen
Michael Crummey
Kate Marshall Flaherty
Chad Norman
Yvonne Blomer
Norm Sibum
Michael Hingston
Dani Couture
Colette Maitland

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who has read at LitLive from 2007 to 2014?

Funny you should ask, because:

A.F. Moritz Toronto
A.J. (Andrew) Somerset London ON
Aaron Giovannone St. Catharines
Adam Getty Hamilton
Adam Sol Toronto
Aisha Sasha John Toronto
Alexander Dolinin Hamilton
Alexander MacLeod Dartmouth NS
Alexandra Missett Hamilton
Alice Major Edmonton
Allan Briesmaster Toronto
Allison Baggio Whitby ON
Amanda Jernigan Hamilton
Amanda Leduc Hamilton
Amy Jones Toronto
Andreas Gripp London ON
Andrew Faulkner Toronto
Andrew Hood Guelph
Andrew Steinmetz Ottawa
Angie Abadou Fernie BC
Ann Elizabeth Carson Toronto
Ann Shin Toronto
Anne Compton Rothsay, NB
Anne McDonald Regina SK
Anne Simpson Antiginish NS
Antony Di Nardo Oshawa
Asa Boxer Montréal
Barbara Fradkin Ottawa
Barbara Pelman Victoria BC
Barry Dempster Holland Landing ON
Barry Webster Montréal 
Beatriz Hausner Toronto
Betsy Struthers Peterborough
Bill Howell Toronto
Bob Snider Toronto
Brad Smith Dunnville ON
Bren Simmers Squamish BC
Bruce Meyer Barrie ON
Camille Martin Toronto
Carey Toane London ON
Carmine Stamino Montréal
Catherine Graham Toronto
Catherine Owen New Westminster BC
Chris Banks Waterloo ON 
Chris Laing Hamilton
Chris Pannell Hamilton
Christian McPherson Ottawa
Christine McNair Ottawa
Christine Miscione Dundas
Christopher Willard Montréal
Claire Tacon Guelph ON
Clara Blackwood Toronto
Colin Morton Ottawa
Cornelia Hoogland London ON
D.S. (Don) Martin Brampton
Dannabang Kuwabong Hamilton
Daphne Marlatt Hamilton
Dave Haskins Grimsby
David Clink Toronto
David Day Toronto
David Derry Toronto
David Helwig Belfast PEI
David Laing Dawson Hamilton
David Seymour Toronto
Derek McCormack Toronto
Di Brandt Brandon MB
Domenico Capilongo Toronto
Don McKay St. John’s NF
Donna Langevin Toronto
Elaine Kalman Naves Montréal
Elizabeth Glenny Fort Erie
Elizabeth Harmer Toronto
Elizabeth Zetlin Owen Sound
Emily Holton Hamilton
Erin Mouré Montréal
Eva Stachniak Toronto
Eva Tihanyi St. Catharines
Eve Joseph Brentwood BC
F.B. Andre Vancouver BC
Farzana Doctor Toronto
Garry Gottfriedson Kamloops BC
Gary Barwin Hamilton
George A. Walker Toronto
George Amabile Winnipeg
George Bowering Vancouver
Glen Dresser Calgary
Gordon Johnston Otonabee ON
Gregory Betts Brantford
Heather Cadsby Toronto
Heather Wood Toronto
Helen McLean Toronto
Hilary Scharper Toronto 
Howard Richler Montréal
Ian Burgham Toronto
Ian Williams Brampton
Irene Marques Toronto
Isa Milman Victoria
J. Edward Chamberlin (Ted) Toronto. 
J.J. Steinfeld Charlottetown PEI
Jacob McArthur Mooney Toronto
Jacquie Buncel Toronto
Jake Doherty Owen Sound
James Deahl Sarnia
James Elliott Hamilton
Jan Conn Great Barrington, MA, USA
Jane Silcott Vancouver
Janet Turpin Myers Burlington
Jason Dickson London ON
Jay MillAr Toronto
Jean Rae Baxter Hamilton
Jeanette Lynes Saskatoon SK
Jeff Cottrill Toronto
Jeff Seffinga Hamilton
Jeffery Donaldson Stoney Creek
Jeffrey Luscombe Toronto
Jeramy Dodds Toronto
Jill Battson Cobourg
Jim Johnstone Toronto
Jim Nason Toronto
Jim Smith Toronto
Joanna Lawson Ancaster
Joanne Arnott Vancouver
Johanna Skibsrud Toronto
John B Lee Port Dover
John Calabro Toronto
John Donlan Godfrey ON
John Swan Hamilton
John Terpstra Hamilton
Jon Fiorentino Montréal
JonArno Lawson Toronto
Judah Denburg Hamilton
Judy Robinson Hamilton
Julie Berry St. Thomas ON
Julie McIsaac Brooklyn, NY, USA
K.D. Miller Toronto
Karen Connelly Toronto
Karen Houle Guelph
Karen Lewis East Amherst, NY, USA
Kate Braid Burnaby BC
Kate Cayley Toronto
Kate Marshall Flaherty Toronto
Kate Story Peterborough
Katherine Lawrence Saskatoon SK
Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Toronto
Keith Garebian Mississauga
Keith Inman Thorold ON
Kerry Schooley Hamilton
Kildare Dobbs Toronto
Klyde Broox Hamilton
Kyle Buckley Toronto
Leslie Shimotakahara Toronto
Lil Blume Toronto
Lillian Necakov-Avalos Toronto
Lilly Barnes Toronto
Linda Frank Hamilton
Lisa Moore St. John’s
Liz Worth Toronto
Lisa Ladouceur Toronto 
Lois Lorimer Toronto
Lolette Kuby Thornhill ON
Lorna Crozier Saanich BC
Luciano Iacobelli Toronto
Lynn Davies Fredericton NB
Marc di Savario Hamilton
Marcus McCann Toronto
Margaret Christakos Toronto
Marilyn Gear Pilling Hamilton
Mark Goldstein Toronto
Mark Lavorato Montréal
Mark Leslie Hamilton
Mary Ann Mulhern Windsor ON
Mary Ellen Csamer Kingston
Mary Frances Coady Toronto
Mary Lou Dickinson Toronto
Matt Lennox Toronto
Matthew Tierney Toronto
Maxianne Berger Montréal 
Michael Blair Montréal
Michael Elcock Sooke BC
Michael Winter Toronto
Mike Barnes Toronto
Mike Freeman Toronto
Mira McEwan Ithaca, NY, USA
Moez Surani Toronto
Monica Kidd St. John’s NF
Nadine McInnis Ottawa
Natalee Caple Calgary
Natalie Zina Walschots Toronto
Nico Rogers Englehart, ON
Nicole Dixon New Waterford NS
Nicole Martocić 
Nitin Deckha Toronto
Noah Richler Toronto
Nora Gould Consort AB
Pam Mordecai Kitchener ON
Patricia Westerhof Toronto
Patrick Friesen Vancouver
Patrick Lane Vancouver
Paul Sutherland Lincolnshire, England
Paul Tyler Ottawa
Penn Kemp London, ON
Philip Roy Halifax
Phlip Arima Toronto
R.W. (Bob) Megens Guelph
Randall Maggs Corner Brook NL
Raymond Beauchemin ON
Richard Scarsbrook Toronto
Rob Colman Newmarket ON
Robert Bringhurst Heriot Bay BC
Robert Moore New Maryland NB
Robert Sutherland Westport ON
Rocco de Giacomo Toronto
Rona Shaffran Ottawa
Ronna Bloom Toronto
Ross Belot Hamilton
Ross Pennie Ancaster
Roy Miki Vancouver
Royston Tester Toronto
Rozena Maart Guelph
Ruth Edgett Dundas
Ruth Roach Pierson Toronto
Ruth Walker Whitby
Safia Fazlul Toronto
Sally Cooper Hamilton
Sara Ries Buffalo, NY, USA
Sarah Klassen Winnipeg
Sarah Sheard Toronto
Scott Fotheringham Ottawa
Sean Johnston Kelowna BC 
Shaena Lambert Vancouver
Shane Neilson Guelph
Shane Rhodes Ottawa
Shari Lapeña Toronto
Sharon English English 
Sharon Nelson Montréal
Sheila James Ottawa
Sky Gilbert Hamilton
Slim Volumes Hamilton
Soraya Erian Hamilton
Stan Rogal Toronto
Stephen Brunt Hamilton
Stephen Gill Cornwall
Steve McCabe Toronto 
Steve McOrmond Toronto
Steve Pitt Rutherglen ON
Steven Heighton Kingston
Steven Mayoff Ellerslie, PEI
Stuart Ross Cobourg
Sue Chenette Toronto
Sue Goyette Halifax
Susan Glickman Toronto
Susan Helwig Toronto
Susan McCaslin Langley BC
Susan McMaster Ottawa
Ted Schmidt Toronto
Terri Favro Toronto
Thomas Trofimuk Edmonton
Tim Conley St. Catharines
Timothy Quinn Toronto
Todd Swift London UK
Ursula Pflug Norwood ON
Urve Tamberg Markham ON
Valentino Assenza Toronto
Valerie Nielson Stoney Creek
Vicki Delany Picton ON
Waheed Rabbani Grimsby
Wesley Bates Clifford ON

An amazing list of readers, eh?

Monday, May 26, 2014

June 1 Readings: Erin Moure/Chus Pato, Aisha Sasha John, Rona Shaffran, Christian McPherson, Christine Miscione, & Joanna Lawson

Moon, June, spoon, great readings this month, like that's not true for EVERY month, but really, fantastic and varied readers are featured in this month's LitLive. This is the last reading of the season. Will there be a cliff hanger? Will there? Will…?

Aisha Sasha John is a dance improviser and author of THOU (BookThug 2014) and The Shining Material (BookThug 2011). She lives in Toronto. 

Christian McPherson was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1970.  He is the author of six books, Cube Squared (Nightwood 2013), My Life in Pictures, The Sun Has Forgotten Where I Live, The Cube People (shortlisted for the 2011 ReLit Awards), Poems that swim from my brain like rats leaving a sinking ship, and Six Ways to Sunday (shortlisted for the 2008 ReLit Awards).  He has a degree in philosophy from Carleton University and a computer programming diploma from Algonquin College.  He is married to the beautiful Marty Carr.  They have two kids, Molly and Henry.  They all live together in Ottawa.

Montreal poet Erín Moure (Calgary, 1955—) has published 16 books of poetry in English and Galician/English, a book of essays, and has translated 13 volumes of poetry into English from French, Spanish, Galician and Portuguese, by poets such as Nicole Brossard, Andrés Ajens, Louise Dupré, Rosalía de Castro, Chus Pato and Fernando Pessoa. Her work has received the Governor General's Award, Pat Lowther Memorial Award, A.M. Klein Prize, and has been a three-time finalist for the Griffin Prize. Her latest work is Insecession, an autobiography and poetics that echoes Chus Pato’s biopoetics Secession; the two books were just published in a dual volume by BookThug.

Galician poet Chus Pato’s (Ourense, 1955—) sixth book, m-Talá, broke the poetic mould in Galicia in 2000. Hordes of Writing, the third text in her pentalogy Decrúa or Tillage, received the 2008 Spanish Critics’ Prize, and the Losada Diéguez Prize in 2009. She was also lauded as 2013 Author of the Year by the Galician Booksellers' Association. Pato continues to refashion the way we think of the poetic text, of words, bodies, political and literary space, and of the construction of ourselves as individual, community, nation, world. Her works have made her one of the most revered and iconoclastic figures in Galician and European literature. Secession is her fourth book to be translated into English (all by Erín Moure) and her first published in Canada.

Joanna Lawson is a retired educator. She has been writing almost since she was born. She became a poet when she dealt with the grief of losing her husband in 1987.  With the help of her uncle, Vincent Francis, and the ongoing assistance of the Tower Poetry Society members, and members of the writing group to which she belongs, she continues to hone her writing skills.She currently resides in Ancaster. She loves theatre and travel. She plays the Great Bass Recorder at the Ancaster Senior Centre. Friends, and family, old and new, near and far, are important to her.

An Ottawa poet, Rona Shaffran is a board member of the Tree Reading Series and co-directs the pop-up poetry series RailRoad. Shaffran’s debut poetry collection Ignite (Signature Editions, 2013) received glowing reviews. It tells a book-length story about marital alienation and renewal and the remarkable things that can happen in a broken relationship. A graduate of Humber’s School for Writers and the Banff Centre Writing Studio, Rona has read at literary festivals and poetry venues across Canada. Her poems have been published in Canadian literary journals and chapbooks. She has received an Honourable Mention for the John Newlove Poetry Award. Rona Shaffran’s website with more information on Ignite and all the reviews to date

Christine Miscione’s work has appeared in various Canadian publications, such as Exile: The Literary Quarterly, This Magazine, and The Puritan. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Hamilton Arts Award for Best Emerging Writer. In 2012, Miscione’s story, Skin Just, won first place in the Gloria Vanderbilt/Exile Editions CVC Short Fiction Contest (emerging writer category). Her debut short story collection, Auxiliary Skins, was released through Exile Editions in 2013. She is currently working on her first novel, Carafola, which will be published through Mansfield Press fall 2014.

Hamilton literary stalwart and charming MC-guy,  Chris Pannell, author most recently of A Nervous City, will host the reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

May the 4th: Aaron Giovannone, Catherine Owen, Don McKay, Lisa Moore, Susan McCaslin

The writing at May 4th's LitLive is money-back guaranteed to be better than this. 

May the fourth be with you (that's the 'force that drives the green fuse' according to Dylan Thomas) as these five fantastic writers read at LitLive. We have winners or finalists for the Griffin Prize, Governor-Generals, the Man Book Prize, the Giller Prize as well as heavy metal musicians, loneliness machine creators and fiction, poetry, and memoir writers. And the entire shindig is hosted by the ever-engaging, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, writer/broadcaster/journalist, Jeanie Macfarlane. 

Among Aaron Giovannone's publications is the poetry chapbook Castelliri (No Press, 2007). He is currently translating into English the poetry of twentieth-century Italian writer Sandro Penna. Originally from St. CatharinesOntario, Aaron has worked at the Università di Siena and lived in CastelliriItaly. He now lives in Calgary where he is completing a Ph.D. 

Catherine Owen is a Vancouver poet and writer, the author of nine collections of poetry. A book of essays and memoirs, Catalysts: Confrontations with the Muse, was published earlier this year. Catherine’s work has appeared in periodicals throughout CanadaAustria, NewZealand, and Australia. Her books and poems have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Gerald Lampert Award, the BC Book Prize, the ReLit Award, the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, Short Grain, and The Earle Birney Prize. Her last book of poetry, Frenzy (Anvil), won the Alberta Literary Award in 2009. She has a Masters degree in English and played bass in the metal bands Inhuman and Helgrind. Her current metal project is Medea.

Don McKay has published nuerous books of poetry and several books of essays. The poetry has been recognized with a number of awards, including two Governor-Generals' Awards and the Griffin Poetry Prize. His most recent book of essays,The Shell of the Tortoise, received the Winterset Prize for Excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador Writing for 2011. Paradoxides, his most recent book of poems, includes meditations on geology and deep time, while pursuing ongoing obsessions with birds and tools. He lives in St. John’sNewfoundland.

Lisa Moore is the bestselling author of the novels February, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Alligator, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her third novel,Caught, will be published by House of Anansi Press in June 2013. She lives in St. John'sNewfoundland.

Susan McCaslin is a poet and Instructor of English at Douglas College inCoquitlamBC. She has published six volumes of poetry and edited the anthologies A Matter of Spirit: Recovery of the Sacred in Contemporary Canadian Poetry (Ekstasis, 1998) and Poetry and Spiritual Practice (St. Thomas Poetry Series, 2002). Three years ago she read at Lit Live from her 2011 book of poetry, Demeter Goes Skydiving. Two new books are coming out in 2014, The Disarmed Heart (poetry) and Into the Mystic (memoir). Susan lives in Port Moody, BC, with her husband and daughter.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Oscar What? A Report on March 2nd's LitLive Reading

Recently-moved-to-Hamilton writer Ryan Pratt reviews 
March 2nd's LitLive reading where no Oscar results were mentioned.

Lit Live Reading Series
Homegrown Hamilton
Featuring: Angie Abdou, Christine McNair, Jim Smith, 
Lynn Davies, Andrew Faulkner and Marcus McCann.

Hosted by Jeff Mahoney

March 2, 2014.

by Ryan Pratt @deadletterbirds

If my first Lit Live encounter, during which I barely managed to get a chair, taught me the advantages of arriving early, Sunday’s stacked bill illustrated the drawback of planning too far ahead: I showed up before Homegrown Hamilton had even opened. Oops. Luckily, Christine McNair and rob mclennan (with baby Rose on shoulder) were just behind me, as well as a steady stream of enthusiasts looking for words and warmth. As it turned out, seats weren’t quite as hard to come by this time – I suspect the amount of Oscars’ chatter had something to do with it – but I counted at least thirty in attendance before Hamilton Spectator columnist and host Jeff Mahoney took the stage.

For her first time reading in Hamilton, Angie Abdou read a hallucinogenic excerpt from her ski-culture adventure The Canterbury Trail (Brindle & Glass). The book takes apart many west coast stereotypes while revealing, in Abdou’s words, the “debauchery behind a spiritual façade”. Exploring the divide between a seven-month-pregnant woman and her high-as-a-kite partner as they scale a wintry mountain, the British Columbia novelist was poignant and funny – looking at the enormity of relationships and wilderness through an increasingly narcotic lens.

As Ottawa’s Christine McNair followed, the extent of the evening’s variety slowly began to dawn on me. Picking selections from her Archibald Lampman-nominated Conflict (BookThug) and pleasantries and other misdemeanors (Apt 9 Press), McNair’s performance held the café enraptured. In the absence of any histrionics, the word “performance” may seem ill fitted but McNair’s velocity at the mic was exacting; a feverish mix of breathing technique and cadences that cleared hills of raw material. An assortment of hums and nods from the crowd greeted McNair’s final poems, which included “Mythology”, “This Is What I Meant” (evocative in its pigments, prisms and gasoline rainbows) as well as the memorably dysfunctional relationship of “Problem With Orchids.”

If you can imagine the next poet somehow meeting that level of professionalism while simultaneously subverting it with toilet humour, you’re probably familiar with Jim Smith. Believe me: by the time he’d read a list poem about nature expelling the Conservative elite and an entry from his work-in-process, A Thousand Fascinating Things About Me, I was wondering how I could’ve missed him. Smith was entirely at home at the microphone, selecting from Happy Birthday, Nicanor Parra (Mansfield Press) and at one point exclaiming, “What the hell did that mean?” to his own poem. His cheerful irreverence even neutralized the stigma of politics, using the Criminal Code of Canada as inspiration for an erasure poetry project. By straining the superfluous filler from each law, Smith tantalized the audience with silly and scary facts about our legislature. “Everyone who is large is punishable,” is one example I managed to copy down.

Our second writer from out of province, New Brunswick native Lynn Davies, reinstated a sense of quiet with readings from How the gods pour tea (Goose Lane) that surveyed nature in its unapologetic instincts and hunger. Davies began with “a strawberry poem” that, in the midst of a protest against razing acres of strawberry fields, overhears fellow confessions and hardships of a community’s delicate stitches. Her gentle delivery and effective pauses gave added heft to “The Swan” and “How Much”, two poems that view death in the wild with an unblinking eye. (I snuck a peek at a few extra pages of How the gods pour tea during intermission and promptly added it to my wish-list. Great stuff.)

So far the evening had thrived on a seesawing rhythm of humour and depth but with the last two readers, humour would win out. Andrew Faulkner, suffering from a lost watch and a head cold, persevered with edgy readings from Need Machine (Coach House Books). “Rats”, a poem about living with the threat of vermin, embodied his obsessive approach to grinding many poetic avenues out of one focus. “Notes on a Theme” spun an assortment of potential party themes – utilizing pop-culture, political and sexual taboos into his tongue-in-cheek repetition – until the accumulation warranted no party at all. Faulkner’s work was biting, often weaving dark humour through darker circumstances, although his delivery did justice in separating Need Machine’s shades.

Those self-deprecating and sharp qualities apply just as well to fellow Torontonian Marcus McCann, representing The Hard Return (Insomnia Press), whose satirical views on the downfalls of modern life were playful and clever. Opening with faux enthusiasm on “Cover Letter” and closing with a “cement-mixer of restraint” for “Resignation Letter,” McCann’s inquiry into depressing jobs struck a jovial chord with the crowd. He pushed on with quirkier focuses, including receiving random penis photos from strangers, frustrations with the ‘chance of sun/rain/cloudiness’ pictogram – the sort of material comedians look for. The ultimate highlight for me was hearing McCann tackle some poems from Labradoodle, An Essay on David McGimpsey (above/ground press), one of my favourite chapbooks from last year.

As the program wrapped up, I didn’t hear a word about the Oscars. Who’d won, who’d lost – it could wait. The assortment of nearby and far-off writers who made the trip to Hamilton made for an unpredictable but thoroughly engaging night. And we can expect more of that energy next month when Lit Live Reading Series combines with Hamilton’s literary festival GritLit for a special line-up of events. Check here for details.