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Canadian Writers Series: an afternoon of poetry

Fresh coffee and warm cookies greeted us at the Press Café, where many of UFV’s students and faculty gathered together for an afternoon of poetry on March 13.

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By Brittney Hensman (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: March 19, 2014

Dr. Trevor Carolan of UFV’s English department was one of the poets who read their work for an intimate crowd of students and faculty in the Abbotsford campus bookstore. (Image: Brittney Hensman)

Dr. Trevor Carolan of UFV’s English department was one of the poets who read their work for an intimate crowd of students and faculty in the Abbotsford campus bookstore. (Image: Brittney Hensman)

Fresh coffee and warm cookies greeted us at the Press Café, where many of UFV’s students and faculty gathered together for an afternoon of poetry on March 13.

With her graceful gestures, kind eyes, and soothing Bulgarian accent, Daniela Elza, UFV’s writer in residence and one of the event’s organizers, invited us to lend our ears to some of our finest local poets.

The audience sat at ease as the first reader, Rob Taylor, shared some of his poetry from his book of poems entitled The Other Side of Ourselves. With his words, he effectively took us to a place of shared human feeling. His poems reflected much of our everyday, relatable life experiences regarding interactions with the people closest to us: mothers, spouses, even ourselves.

“Rob always gets me to the place where I’m almost about to cry,” Elza said after Taylor finished.

Next up was Trevor Carolan, one of UFV’s English professors. The first class I ever took at UFV was with Trevor, and it was one of my favourites.

“He’s always got the best vests,” a friend said, leaning over to me while Trevor made his way towards the mic, and he sure did. Dazzling the audience with a grey and gold woven vest and his classic red leather tie, he weaved and bobbed to the rhythm of each line he spoke.

As I listened, I waited for him to whip out his harmonica or start singing William Blake’s “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright…” Instead, he pulled out the lyrics to the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” and performed it as a spoken-word poem accompanied by Bryce Orr’s acoustic guitar. The audience joined together to sing the famous chorus.

“I love when we bring the music to the words — and the words to the music,” said the ever-so-quotable Elza.

A reading by poet Renée Sarojini Saklikar followed. Saklikar knows the power of an effective pause; the silence said so much after her words sliced our ears and penetrated our souls.

There was then an open mic session, during which students shared some of their personal written works. Each poet’s different words and voice brought a unique aspect to the poems they read. As one student read, her face came alive and her voice filled with joy. Enchanting!

Though we were an intimately sized group, all the poets who shared their work were genuinely pleased to be part of those two hours together with us. Taylor referred to sharing poetry as a way for writers and readers to build and establish community.

Writers are a humble bunch, I thought as I scanned the room. They’re not flashy, or loud, or toffee-nosed. The gentlemen and ladies who gathered in the UFV bookstore closed their eyes and simply drank in the cleverly crafted words. Words that help us look at the world in a different light, words that we call — poetry.

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