Monday, December 12, 2011

December word-related events!

Recently Local Tourist Ottawa asked me to run down the literary events of the month as a regular column. Since I work for VERSe Ottawa, I'm actually supposed to be pretty plugged in about literary stuff - that is, members of VERSe Ottawa are supposed to get in touch with me about their shows. I've already been to the Dusty Owl's annual food bank fundraiser on the 4th, and Urban Legends' last slam of 2011 last Friday, and then there's this list of upcoming stuff. I've added a couple of new shows, too, that weren't on the list for LTO: the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam on Monday, this month's Once Upon a Slam, and the Ottawa Storytellers season opener at the NAC this Thursday, among them.

On December 13th (that's tomorrow,) the venerable Tree Reading Series is holding an all-open-mic session at the Arts Court Library, along with a talk on contemporary poetics by Shane Rhodes, one of Ottawa’s edgiest poets. Tree’s known for offering more than a simple reading, being one of the only series in town that offers talks and conversations on poetry as well as workshops. This evening will start at 6:45 with a free workshop with Governor General’s Award winner Phil Hall, then Shane’s talk at 8:00, and then an open mike – with prizes!

Marie at the Storytellers Festival
On December 14th, Voices of Venus is presenting local author and storyteller Marie Bilodeau. An award-winning fantasy author, with four novels under her belt and a fifth about to be released, Marie is known – maybe notorious – for her strong female characters, her humour, and her appetite for epic destruction. Marie is also an entertaining storyteller – sometimes hilarious, sometimes lyrical. The show starts at 7:30 at Venus Envy with an all-women open mike: $5/PWYC and open mike performers get in free.

If you’re looking for a Christmassy event, try the Ottawa Storytellers’ season opener at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage on December 15th at 7:30. Storytellers Alan Shain and Kim Kilpatrick will take the audience through 500 years of Christmas traditions, with live harp music by Janine Dudding from Acacia Lyra. If you’ve never heard live storytelling before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Tickets are $20 at the NAC box office.

Ottawa Fountain
If you like the fire of slam, Capital Slam is rounding out the year with a fantastic feature at the Mercury Lounge on Saturday, December 17: they’re featuring “Ottawa Fountain,” the National Youth Slam Champions. This team blew the competition away at the Nationals this year with their powerful team pieces and stage presence. The youngest of the team is only 13, but anyone who’s seen them agrees they could all hold their own on the mainstage alongside much older performers. The doors and slam signup are at 6:30: cover is $8, and free for performers.

And if you like what you're hearing out of the new crop of slam poets, you can catch the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam, featuring Kingston PEN, on the 19th at 5:30 at the Main Public Library. Kingston PEN came in fourth overall at CFSW 2011, in their first year of existence, and feature some new faces as well as some you might recognize from Ottawa's scene, like Greg "Ritallin" Frankson and arRay-of-woRds. Any time I've been to the Main Public Library for a youth event I have come out amazed and energized at the talent and capability of young artists. The Library is smart to be hosting these events: there's no better way to make the library cool than to have it be a venue where very cool kids do their thing.

On the 22nd, The Peter F. Yacht Club, a writer’s group/community/journal which has had a powerful influence over the poetry community in Ottawa, is holding a “regatta/reading/Christmas party” in the upstairs room at the Carleton Tavern (223 Armstrong) from 7:00 pm – there will be readings by Yacht Club Irregulars like Amanda Earl, Pearl Pirie, Vivian Vavassis, Monty Reid, rob mclennan and others. Hosted by rob mclennan, the Carleton Tavern readings are always warm, smart, and fun. 

Ronsense at Once Upon a Slam (photo: Jason Walton)
December 30th is the final Once Upon a Slam of the year too! Held at the Mercury Lounge, Once Upon a Slam is a unique storytelling competition. It works like a poetry slam - time limit, audience judges, and all - except you get five minutes to get up and tell a story. No props, no paper, just storytelling. The last feature of the year is Sicilian-Canadian storyteller Charly Chiarelli, who I got to see at the Storytellers Festival a year or so ago. He's a whole lot of fun. Sign up for the slam at 6:30, the show's at 7:15. $8 at the door, or tell a story in the slam to get in free.

Meanwhile, end-of-year deadlines creep up: might as well end the year by sending out your own writing!

Your next chance to get into the awesome online poetry mag comes up this week, December 15th - Ottawa residents and former residents are eligible to submit poetry. Deadline is the 15th of each month. 

The Tree Press Chapbook Competition’s deadline for submissions is December 30. It costs $10 to enter and you can submit a chapbook of up to 32 pages; the winner gets an ISBN for their book. Submissions can be sent by mail to Tree Press Chapbook Contest, c/o Claudia Coutu Radmore, Managing Editor, 49 McArthur Ave., Carleton Place, ON K7C 2W1.

In/Words, Carleton’s literary journal, is also looking for submissions of poetry and fiction for their winter issue. The deadline to submit is December 31 – send your work to The Winter issue will be officially launched at VERSeFest 2012 (Feb 28-Mar 4.)

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