25th Trillium Award

A Night of Facts: Grey Borders RS with bill bisset, Donato Mancini, Steven Zultanski, Pearl Pirie and Beatrice Hausner

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Riding on the heels of a successful launch of the new season, the second of the Grey Borders Reading Series followed up with yet another energetic, electric, and "raging and excellent" reading. The night featured bill bissett, Steven Zultanski, Pearl Pirie, Donato Mancini and Beatriz Hausner, a night jam-packed with talent and, interesting enough, a lot of facts. Fact one: the night was almost a BookThug night: with the exception of Pearl Pirie, each of the poets had recently published a book through BookThug.

Before the literary feast commenced, both Eric and Craig, curators of the series, provided a ?toast? — a few words for Canadian poet Raymond Souster, who had just passed away on Friday October 19 and had worked with bill bissett in the past. An appropriate few words for that particular night.

The somber beginning by no means slowed down the event down. Instead, Donato Mancini read at a quick pace as soon as he arrived at the podium that flowed evenly from poem to poem, only stopping here and there to take a breath or to turn the page. Donato has recently released his first book of critical writing, You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence (BookThug), a book that has him being referred to as the ?enemy of Canadian poetry.? Donato did not read from his critical writing, but chose to read from his books of poetry, Buffet World (New Star) and Fact ?N? Value (Fillip Editions). From facts about food and consumption to poems that just "cut" through the air, Donato delivered a superb reading.

Enter Beatrice Hausner to deliver a rather quirky and intimate reading. Beatrice read from a few sections of her new book of prose poems, Enter the Racoon (BookThug). The sections she read from were Naming, Eternal Mutation, The Loneliness of the Fashionista, and the Bookhunter. Each section contained a sort of essay on the particular subject and then diverged into the speaker?s intimacy with the raccoon, sometimes sensual and surreal and at other times intellectual and nostalgic, but always in some way connected to the ?essay? and to the overall subject.

Following up Beatrice, was Steven Zultanski who cranked up the speed of the event, reading staggeringly fast, yet each word enunciated clearly, the audience absorbed into the frantic progression of his poetry. Reading from his new book, Agony (BookThug), Steven?s poems contained an obsession of mathematical facts right down to the cubic inches of air displacement by yawning and the effect of so many Taipei 101s dropped on the shore of the Black Sea compared to the effect of Taipei 101s dropped in the Black Sea. Steven?s reading was short but it certainly hit the audience hard with its energetic pace, hilarity and confessional intimacy.

Pearl Pirie read poems from a wide selection of her books, some of which were published through her micropress, Phafours Press. Before Pearl read, she stepped back, leaning backwards, and took a photo of the crowd. She began and ended her reading with a poem that wasn?t her own, one poem being from her collection of 21 poets, Air Out / In Air: 21 Poets for the Guatemala Stove Project, which has thus far raised enough money to buy stoves for two families! Out of all the uniquely bound books, Pearl?s Where?s the Fire was the most unique, each copy being uniquely burned, having only lost two books in the process, admits Pearl.

To close the night with an incantation to begin, bill bissett arrived on the stage to read from his latest book Rush: What Fuckan Theory (BookThug), a reissue of what had been out of print since 1972. After bill?s chant to commence his reading, bill, to promote the reissue of the book, read from Rush but from time to time, would pause and comment on an observation or a fact, whether it was that ?everything is unstable? as he tried to stabilize the table and prevent his water bottle from falling off the desk, or about the weirdness of things (his mic) in front of your mouth.

All in all, this was quite the entertaining reading, playful yet full of extraordinary talent and great books to empty out the audience?s pockets (including mine). If you didn?t get a chance to come out that night, be sure to attend the next event of the GBRS and the last of the 2012 year, which will be featuring TROLL-THREAD (Joey Yearous-Algozin, Chris Sylvester, Divya Victor, Holly Melgard); AVANT-GARDEN (Shannon Maguire, Liz Howard, Fenn Stewart); and FERNO HOUSE (Mat Laporte).

Phil Miletic is an editorial intern at Open Book Ontario and a teaching assistant at Brock University. Fresh out of the English MA program at Brock, Phil hopes to continue down the road of academia scattering poems, stories and whatever else he can along the way.

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