"I have been intimate with fish."
No. Not I. Joe Rosenblatt. At least, that's what he said last night at WordStorm in Nanaimo -- and who am I to argue? He certainly got my attention.
Yesterday was to have been a day off -- my Saturday, as it were -- but I ended up working for four hours anyway, then zipping straight down to Acme Foods for WordStorm. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, and nothing was going to keep me away. I ordered and ate dinner, then went downstairs to take one of maybe three chairs that remained empty -- and those were extra straight-backed chairs that someone had brought down from the restaurant to contain the overflow audience. In the end, some people listened to the evening's performances from the stairway. That was a treat in itself, to see a "standing room only" crowd for a poetry reading.
Joe wasn't the first reader of the evening. First there came eight poets/writers who read short samples of their work (as I did a few months ago) -- then the Lightning Readers came forward, more experienced, published folk all -- to entertain us. Kamal Parmar read from her new book of poetry, Fleeting Shadows. Kevin Roberts read from his novel, She'll Be Right.
The surprise treat of the night was a performance by Kendall Patrick, a singer-songwriter from Ladysmith, B.C. (just down the road a piece), and her friend Alex, who sang one of her own compositions as well. Alex never told us her last name, so I'm afraid I have no way of linking to her work. I understand that Kendall and Alex have a new CD coming out, entitled "See It Coming."
But I digress. Joe Rosenblatt. Delightful man that he is, he offered me his French fries at dinner. I declined, but it made me fond of him even before he started his performance. As I said, he started by saying "I have been intimate with fish," and proceeded to float from poem to poem, story to story, explaining along the way that you touch a fish when you take him out of the net, then you club him to death, then -- intimacy of all intimacies -- you eat him. He had his audience in the palm of his hand. From time to time I jotted down a line that struck me -- "My soul and I are now obese...I keep my feelings inside a sea urchin."
From fish, Joe moved on to cats: "I worship cats..." and off we went on another tangent -- I remember something about -- hollyhocks, was it? and a reference to "leafy lechery" -- "pellucid squid" and a cat speaking in fluent "Felinese, but in a dialect that was untranslatable..." Then we ran out of time. "Can't I read some doggerel?" Joe asked. Our applause convinced the powers that were that yes, he could, so he began, but changed his mind and left the stage, and I was bereft.
I don't always understand what I'm hearing at these events, and sometimes I downright dislike it -- but there are moments when I feel as if I'm dancing in someone else's mind -- or someone else is dancing in mine. It's hard to tell.
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