Inspired by the long-format readings held at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) in the 1960s, this book launch will celebrate two new titles, Jason Camlot’s Vlarf and John Emil Vincent’s Bitter in the Belly (both published in the Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series of McGill-Queen’s University Press), with substantial readings and presentations of the books by the authors. Katherine McLeod will moderate the proceedings as the poets alternate between readings of 25 minutes each (x2), allowing the audience to experience a substantial performance with commentary by the authors of these new home-grown collections. Each book creates its own gleefully strange and sadly hilarious world from a wide gamut of emotions and texts. It will be a poetry event of the fun variety.
The format will be hybrid. 25 in-person attendees, local broadcast to the streets of Concordia, and streamed to YouTube Live. Participation in person is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Bitter in the Bellyreckons with suicide’s wreckage. After John Emil Vincent’s best friend descends into depression and hangs himself, fluency and acuity lose their lustre. Vincent sorts through and tries to arrange cosmologies, eloquence, narrative, insight, only to find fatal limitations. He tries to trick tragedy into revealing itself by means of costume, comedy, thought experiment, theatre of the absurd, and Punch and Judy. The poems progress steadily from the erotic and mythic to the lapidary and biblical, relentlessly constructing images, finding any way to bring the world into the light - what there is of light, when the light is on.
In Vlarf Jason Camlot plumbs the canon of Victorian literature, as one would search the internet, to fashion strange, sad, and funny forms and feelings in poetry. Vlarf pursues expressions of sentiment that may have become unfamiliar, unacceptable, or uncool since the advent of modernism by mining Victorian texts and generic forms with odd inclinations, using techniques that include erasure, bout-rimé, emulation, adaptation, reboot, mimicry, abhorrence, cringe, and love. Erasures of massive volumes of prose by John Stuart Mill and John Ruskin become concise poems of condensed sadness; a reboot of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” is told from the perspective of a ten-year-old boy with an imaginary albatross pal; recovered fragments from an apocryphal book of Victorian nonsense verse are pieced together; a Leonard Cohen song about Queen Victoria is offered in a steampunk rendering; and a meditative guinea pig delivers a dramatic monologue in the vein of Robert Browning.
Jason Camlot is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Animal Library,Attention All Typewriters, and What The World Said. He is professor of English and research chair in literature and sound studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
John Emil Vincent has written several books of poetry including Excitement Tax and Ganymede’s Dog. He lives in Montreal and teaches creative writing in Concordia’s Department of English.
Katherine McLeod researches Canadian literature through sound, performance, and archives. She produces the SpokenWeb Shortcuts podcast series, curates the Where Poets Read online events listing, researches poetry on the radio, and works on the intersection of dance and poetry in her own creative practice as a dancer.