Pop-up Poetry Weekend with performances and workshops

Poetry Gabriola

Submitted Article

Tuesday, September 16 2014

On Friday, September 19, the innovative and award-winning Toronto artist Evalyn Parry takes her audience on an uncommon theatrical and musical journey in SPIN, her tour de force performance celebrating the bicycle as muse, musical instrument and agent of social change.

Inspired in part by the incredible true tale of Annie Londonderry - the first woman to ride around the world on a bicycle in 1894 - Parry spins a web of stories which travel from 19th century women’s emancipation to 21st century consumer culture, peeling back layers of history to ultimately reveal a profoundly contemporary and personal heart to her theme of liberation.

Parry’s co-star is a vintage bicycle: suspended in a mechanic’s stand on stage, and outfitted with electronic pick-ups, the bike is played by percussionist Brad Hart, who conjures an astonishing array of sounds on his “iron horse,” creating a richly textured and utterly unique sonic accompaniment to Parry’s songs and monologues. Learn more about Evalyn and SPIN at www.evalynparry.com.

Opening for SPIN is Vancouver poet and humourist, Billeh Nickerson. Author of The Asthmatic Glassblower; McPoems; Impact: The Titanic Poems; and Artificial Cherry, Billeh is a poignant and hilarious performer. He is co-editor of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets, a silver medalist at the Canadian Gay Curling Championships, and chair of the Creative Writing Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Learn about Billeh at www.billeh.com.

And on Saturday, September 20, from Haida Gwaii - Susan Musgrave and Stephen Reid.

In this rare appearance, poet-novelist Susan Musgrave and writer-felon Stephen Reid will be reading together. They will each be hosting a writing workshop as well on Sunday (space is limited so sign up early).

When convicted bank robber Stephen Reid won the $5,000 City of Victoria’s Butler Book Prize in 2013 for A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden, he told his wife, Susan Musgrave, that it was his “best jury decision ever.”  

Stephen Reid wrote his first book, Jackrabbit Parole, during a 21-year prison sentence for bank robbery, and married his writing mentor, Susan Musgrave, in Kent Institution in 1986. Upon his release, he worked in the field of restorative justice and was a celebrated writer and creative writing teacher until 1999, when he was sentenced to a further 18 years in prison for a bank robbery in Victoria, after a prolonged bout with heroin and cocaine addiction. He was released on day parole in February, 2014, and is currently working on a second play, Heroin Elvis.

Susan Musgrave has published 30 books and been short-listed four times for the Governor General’s Award, most recently for Origami Dove, a collection of poetry published by McClelland and Stewart. Last year she won the Lush Triumphant Award for a series of poems entitled, “The Goodness of this World” about her daughter’s heroin addiction. 

In 2012 she won the Spirit Bear Award - a tribute that recognizes the significance of a vital and enduring contribution to the poetry of the Pacific Northwest. “Her artistic presence over the past 40 years has helped create who we are,” wrote Patrick Lane. “She is as important to us as Emily Carr.”

Her latest novel is Given, a sequel to the national bestseller, Cargo of Orchids. She lives on Haida Gwaii, where she owns and manages Copper Beech Guest House, and teaches poetry in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing. Haida Gwaii: Foraging and Feasting at the Edge of the World will be published in the spring of 2015 by Whitecap.

Susan and Stephen will be at The Net Loft on 1960 Murray Road at 7:00 p.m. Tickets $15 at the door, or online at artsgabriola.ca or call 247-0117.

Sunday, September 21: Writing Workshops by Stephen and Susan at the Poetry Yurt at the Commons. 

Workshop #1: Blurred Boundaries with Susan Musgrave; Workshop #2: Writing Towards the Light with Stephen Reid. To register, email altogetherlisa@yahoo.ca or call 247-0117. Space is limited.