On Tuesday, October 6, poets Ali Blythe and Peter Norman read their work in the Lorenzo Art Gallery from their recently published books of poetry, Twoism and The Gun That Starts the Race respectively.
Alison Hughes, co-ordinator of the series, began the night by stating that the change in location (from the usual setting at the Ganong Hall Lecture Theatre) made for “an intimate set for an intimate reading.”
Ali Blythe’s book of poetry, Twoism, “explores the dualities of love and loss, reaching, sometimes fumbling, towards ecstasy. As a transgendered, or all-gendered being, the world is experienced through body parts”. Hughes also stated that the collection had a dualism of love and loss, happiness and sadness, and “slide one into the next”, with the “southern slurring of a musician”. As stated in the Lorenzo Reading Series booklet, “the poems are haunted by gendered injuries and pervading sadness, lightened by new possibilities and alternate realities”.
Blythe’s reading was confident and sensitive, occasionally making jokes as though having an honest and touching conversation with the audience, stating, “I transformed at the same time as this book”. Ali made the crowd laugh continuously through the reading, the room warm, comfortable, and intimate in pseudo-conversation.
When Ali had finished reading, Peter Norman took the stage to read from both his gothic novel Emberton and his book of poetry, The Gun that Starts the Race. Norman’s vast list of experience as a writer and editor was clear in the works he read, which were both intriguing and accessibly casual. Norman read from the beginning of Emberton, which featured beautiful, descriptive, and alliterative prose, which set the stage for a deep and comedic novel. Cacophonous and nuanced phrases such as “stolid dankness” littered the reading and drew in the audience in comfort and slight unease.
Norman’s poetry collection follows the alliterative style of his prose, reading lines of thick, interesting and unusual free verse and sonnets. Saint John was Norman’s last stop on his tour. He stated that he had a “vibrant and fantastic time”, and became teary-eyed both about the end of the tour and excitement about returning home to his family.
“Once thought starts to turn home, you get an intensification of missing the people back there and are waiting to see you again”.
The poem “Tough Avocado” was a cute and quirky piece very much about love, and he ended with the title poem, “The Gun that Starts the Race”, about the journey of writing.
Authors Ali Blythe and Peter Norman hosted a question and answer period, where they commented on their writing processes and publishing. They also had a book signing, copies will be available at the UNBSJ bookstore.
The Lorenzo Reading Series is financially supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Poets League of Canada, UNB Saint John and Fredericton, their Maritime Tour partners, and “valiant Canadian publishers”, and hughes gave a special thank you to Douglas and McIntyre, and New Brunswick’s international publisher, Goose Lane Editions.
Future lorenzo events include Joan Clark, reading from The Birthday Lunch on October 29, and George Elliott Clarke reading from George & Rue on November 5, both at 7 in the Ganong Hall lecture theatre.
For more information about the Lorenzo Society and the Lorenzo Reading Series, please visit http://www.unb.ca/saintjohn/arts/lorenzo/. For more information about the poets, please contact the Lorenzo Society or visit http://www.peternorman.ca/.