Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First a poem, then An Evening in the Cultural Capital of Canada*

City Lights

by Sandra Leigh


Teeterers on the parapet watching
neon jitterbug pinwheels knowing
we could take the sparking sky but

knowing our knowing
as apparition we hovered
tiptoe arms akimbo

bleached and breathless cormorants above
a whirling brine the city
was ours then we clung to dizzy

hills inhaling hungrily
garlic steaming black bean
and cockroach soy and vice

at Dick Sum's tea house by
7 a.m. no later or else...
the bao would all be gone

the groans of crushed men squatted cursing
stinking in doorways sliding down
in sulfured fog behind

a rippled veil and horking
hand-rolled Drum we owned
the cable cars and their

alarming bells and arms
reaching out to grab
a passing rail and

fishermen shouting their silver
wares the black - clad man
who sharpened knives and scissors

door to door and yet
we didn't stay
for all our airs

we were strangers there.


To be filed under Things I Should Do More Often:

Last night, I went down to Nanaimo Centre Stage for a staged reading of Betty and Joe, a new play by Stephen Baetz. What a great way to spend the evening. Garry Davey, the director, sat onstage and read the set directions. The two actors (two whole actors, this time!) sat on straight-backed chairs and read the script. The playwright and his wife were in the audience, which was apparently a surprise to everyone else. They live in Ontario. I don't think they came all the way to B.C. just for the reading, but maybe they did.

So Matthew Walker as Joe, and Patricia Ludwick as Betty, read the script, and when it was over, Garry Davey asked the two dozen or so people in the audience to offer our opinions on the play itself and on his and the actors' interpretation of the script. We talked for half an hour or so, and then half the audience had to run. They all live on Gabriola Island, and the ferry was about to leave. Those of us who didn't have a ferry to catch stayed behind and dug a little deeper into the play. The actors came out and sat in the audience and took part in the critique. I came home feeling exhilarated.

I found out just the other day that Nanaimo has a monthly event that I should have been attending forever. It's called WordStorm. It is held in the basement of Acme Food Co., the restaurant where Jane and I had dinner before we went to see The Syringa Tree. I'll try to get there for the third Thursday in May, since I've obviously missed the April session. I really should get the local paper, so I'd know about these things before they are over.

Meanwhile, because I read the poster on the theatre wall tonight, I know that Nanaimo Centre Stage is presenting Agnes of God tomorrow through May 2. I am tempted to make this week an orgy of playgoing. The theatre season is coming to a close, so I may just do it.

*Honest, there's a banner downtown that proclaims that Nanaimo is the Cultural Capital of Canada. It's a little puzzling, because mostly we're known for (1) the annual bathtub race and (2) naked bungee jumping for charity. Of course, I'm finding out all sorts of things about Nanaimo lately. We apparently have a huge underground network of creative people. Who knew?

Some of us should get out more.


John Hayes said...

Love that poem-- hand rolled Drum-- yes. The WordStorm event sounds like it should be good.

Sandra Leigh said...

Thank you, John. I'm glad you liked it.

Poetikat said...

Please see my comment on the post below. I see John and I reacted to the same line. ha ha.


Sandra Leigh said...

Saw your comment, Kat - thanks so much. "Wicked" is a great compliment! I write, but I generally don't tell anybody about it. I'm trying to overcome that.

René Wing said...

I enjoyed your poem, Sandra. Thanks for sharing it. I really loved the last four lines.

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