Last night I attended a public reading session at the Starlight Lounge in Waterloo organized by Coach House Books but with the participation of a number of other small presses including ECW Press, Blaurock Press, and House of Anansi. The 8 authors and poets (alas only 7 showed, the inevitable effects of flu season in Ontario) each read for about 10 or 15 minutes, time enough to get through 4 or 5 short poems or enough of a chapter from a novel to whet your appetite. This was a ‘free’ event in a great location with a cash bar and plenty of atmosphere. A few of the authors were local, or had local roots, with the rest primarily coming from Toronto. I can only hope that we get more of this type of event in Waterloo.
I have a great deal of admiration for anyone who sticks with writing poetry or literature and eventually gets published in whatever form. All of those giving readings last night were experienced writers some with a number of books in their portfolio. Of course a public reading is as much about stage presence and voice and a bit of charisma. On those points I would single out for special praise Cordelia Strube, Emily Schultz, and Eric Schachter.
It is difficult to evaluate works such as these on the basis of a brief reading so I will hold off on any recommendations until I read one or more of the actual text. Most important is that the evening helped raise awareness about these writers, whose work I will be pleased to pick up in the library or a book store as time allows.
The full list of authors/poets from the evening was: David Derry, Damian Rogers, Eric Schachter, Jason Schneider, Emily Schultz, Cordelia Strube, Matthew Tierney, and Zoe Whittall.