Friday Night Lights

It ended up being a hectic Friday night yesterday.  In a good way of course, as there were basically four back-to-back events.  Following Arlene Dickinson’s Persuasion at the library, it was a mad dash over to the Vertigo Theatre for the Friday Showcase.  The final showcase of WordFest was also the largest, with six authors participating; Marina Endicott, Brian Francis, Patricia Marx, Suzette Mayr, Jose Manuel Prieto, and Martha Schabas.  As I mentioned yesterday, I did end up being a little late, but only because there were so many good questions being asked at Persuasion.  And, I’ll admit (only because there were many witnesses) that before entering the theatre, I stopped in the volunteer lounge to make a mockery of the sandwich and cheese offering.  Who knew blogging could make one so hungry?

But following the Showcase, the night was far from over, as ‘Poetry Bash’ took place, also at the Vertigo, half an hour later.  Between the two events, I tried to get a little writing done, but failed miserably, and headed back to the volunteer lounge to make sure all the sandwiches had been eaten (they hadn’t, but I fixed the problem).  At most events, I’m always content to sit or even stand in the back, as it gives me a good vantage point, where I can observe not only the artists on stage, but also the audience and their reaction.  As this was to be a packed house, I waited to the very last minute to head over to the theatre, where I could quietly slip into a seat in the back.

As I approached the door, I was taken aback by how quiet it was.  There wasn’t even a peep coming from beyond the theatre door.  Sure, it was a poetry reading, but it’s nearly impossible for a group that large to be that quiet.  I figured it must be some kind of moment of silence, or a long pause in a performance, so I decided to wait before entering.  But the silence continued.  Not sure what to do, I put my ear right up against the door, trying to hear any evidence of human activity.  There was none.  How could so many people  be so quiet, it simply wasn’t possible.  After several minutes, I decided I would enter anyway, and just try to be as quiet as possible.  As I slowly opened the door, I noticed there was a lot of light coming from the theatre. And by the time I had fully opened the door, I realized the theatre was empty.  A quick glance at the ticket told me that Poetry Bash was being held in the Vertigo ‘Studio’, which is different from the ‘Theatre.’  I’ve only been at Vertigo for seven or eight hours a day for the past four days, how could I know such a thing?

After finding the Studio, I headed inside, took my place in the back, and enjoyed hearing some great poets read their works.  Featured were Tim Bowling (fully recovered from the Art Gallery Brawl earlier in the day), Patrick Lane, Sina Queyras, Ann Scowcroft and Ann Simpson.  Now obviously nothing could be as quiet as the empty Theatre next door, but I have to say, I was amazed at how quiet a poetry audience could be.

Following Poetry Bash, it was over to Hotel Le Germain to see what was happening in the Artist’s Lounge.  After a quick stop at the volunteer lounge of course.  Don’t worry, I didn’t have any sandwiches this time (there were none left), instead it was only a couple of cookies and a chocolate bar.  The party upstairs was surprisingly full.  Surprising because I figured everybody would either still be at the Theatre, or too tired to keep the night going.  The lounge again featured a mix of authors, artists and onlookers, as the room rocked to the soothing sounds of DJ Lauren and her collection of Hall & Oates music.

But the night was still not over, and soon it was time to head over to Beatniq for WordFest’s Late Night, featuring Justin Rutledge.  I was lucky enough to walk over with two of last night’s showcase authors, Jose Manuel Prieto and Marth Schabas.  I awkwardly pointed out Calgary landmarks and talked about the weather, like a stammering teenager, trying to impress a girl.  Who wouldn’t be impressed by Chinooks and historical snowfall averages?

Now I’m pretty cool, or “groovy” as the kids like to say, but I’ll admit I’d never been to Beatniq before.  The jazz club, downstairs below a street level restaurant, is a small, intimate room, with a stage, a bar, and a few dimly lit tables.  In a word, it was perfect for a show such as this one.  Justin took the stage shortly after 11:30 and treated the audience to his mix of music and poetry.  I spent a good portion of his set contemplating whether or not I could return to the hospitality suite before going home.  I couldn’t.  Perhaps I’m not a “groovy” as I thought.

Don’t forget to follow the Official WordFest hashtag on twitter, #wordfest2011

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Filed under 2011 Festival Blog, Behind the Scenes

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