Saturday, March 31, 2007

Geoffrey Cook

March 30: I'm off to Victoria this evening to see my good friend Geoff Cook read in the Planet Earth Poetry series. If you're in the area, you should drop in; Geoff's not just an excellent poet, but a very fine reader as well.

Update: Geoff's reading was fucking outstanding; the man really knows how to deliver the goods. He had a big pile of books at the start of the night and escaped with only one in hand. Even though I've seen Geoff read a few times, it was well worth the trip across the Strait.

The whole evening was quite a success. I have to hand it to her, Wendy Morton seems to be one helluvan impresario. The house was packed, and very enthusiastic; the Black Stilt is an excellent venue, good stage, good sound. The event started with an open mic--very smart to have the o.m. first--with readers limited to one poem. It was in some ways the kind of mixed bag you expect of an o.m., but there were some pleasant surprises and quite a variety of styles.

Next up was Glen Sorestad, the former poet laureate of Saskatchewan. His poetry and his delivery were both quite genteel and soothing; not my bag, but not bad for what it was. I had the chance to talk with him briefly and he seems like a kind, gentle man.

Geoff read next, and because he was there courtesy of the Canada Council, he had a pretty long set. But not a minute of drag; a great mix of shorter and longer pieces, varying tone and mood beautifully. His reading of the title poem from Postscript, a four-minute tour-de-force, sparked a spontaneous ovation.

The final reader was a young man named Martin Hazelbower, who apparently won the CBC Poetry Faceoff in Victoria this year. And it's not hard to see why. His reading was a fifteen minute set-piece, completely uncategorisable, utterly bizarre, and brilliant. I think the guy is a genius. Before he started reading, he gave the impression of being shy, perhaps somewhat awkward, but then he started speaking and his presence just grew and grew. It's hard to say what I'd think of the piece if I were reading it to myself, but I don't think that matters much; it was written for performance, and perform it he damn well did.

No comments: