The audience for the poetry reading at the Grande Bibliothèque on December 1 is going to be plunged directly into the stream of languages for the penultimate event of Concordia’s President’s Conference Series (PCS) on that theme.
A typical poetry reading is a fairly staid affair, tracing a direct line from poet to text to audience. The seven poets participating in this event, titled Une pluie de mots, de langues, de silences, will be performing with each other, using images and prior recordings of their works. The evening program represents the culmination of months of planning and collaboration.
“It’s not like anything I’ve done before,” admits Mary di Michele, of the Department of English. More to the point, she adds, “its unlike any poetry event I’ve ever seen. This is going to be an Imax experience of poetry.”
It’s true that few readings involve a creative director. Michael Montanaro, Associate Professor and Chair of Contemporary Dance and choreographer of the Cirque de Soleil’s show, Varekai, has been working with the writers, and the space, to develop the idea of an immersive sonic experience.
“We knew we wanted to stage something with poetry,” Montanaro says. That idea has grown to include three platforms and screens on stage, organized by lighting director Tim Rodriguez, sound director Navid Navab, and Jerome Delapierre for video and other visual elements.
Development of the project stretches back to the summer. Di Michele was one of several poets teaching in the Departments of English and Études françaises invited to participate: Each of them submitted six or seven poems on the theme of language and the city, the broad theme of the PCS and the larger partnership between Concordia and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ).
The seven professors then began to think about how their works fit together. “The poems start speaking to each other,” says di Michele. “They become a kind of single work, working with each other.”
That collaborative dialogue may be more common in a classroom than on a stage for most poets. “I suppose all forms of theatre are collaborative, with the actors and director,” she says, extending the example to writing for TV or film.
Di Michele will be joined for Une pluie de mots, de langues, de silences, by Marc André Brouillette and André Roy of Concordia’s Département d’études françaises, as well as Jason Camlot, David McGimpsey, Stephanie Bolster and Sina Queyras of the Department of English.
Bolster fortunately contributed her recordings just days before she became a mother for the second time. Her voice and work will join the others’ on December 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Grande Bibliothèque at 475 De Maisonneuve Blvd. E.
Listen to a teaser for the event on December 1: