Last night was the launch of Prairie Fire's Home Place launch.
Thirty-four poets read for a minute or so (there's just so much said and left unsaid in the expression 'or so,' isn't there?).
It was remarked upon by more than one poet at the number of birds warbling in the poems on offer.
What was also remarkable was the number of people reading along to the readings - a few poets were both kind enough (and arch enough...) to give the page number of their poems when at the podium.
One to two minutes isn't very long for a reading (short readings have one advantage - if the reader is giving a wretched performance at least you'll know it'll be over soon), two poets surprised me:
Deborah Schnitzer, an English Literature prof at the U of Wpg (and a bit of a mentor of mine), sang her poem babylon (p. 165) while Franco-Manitoban poet J.R. Leveille (forgive me my lack of accents...) announced he was going to read a section of his Magnificat de la ville (p. 92) and then only read the first stanza (six whole words) before stepping down.
To be sure, thirty-four poets clogged up the aisles of the first five or six rows of McNally Robinson's travel alcove, their arms and legs poetically akimbo, but what was nice about the evening was that they didn't make for the standing-room-only of the mild-mannered throng at the back.
What was also nice about the evening were the chocolate butterflies on the chocolate cake.
Andris Taskans, Managing Editor and Grand-Pooh-Bah at PF International, told me they were poison butterflies just before the event started - ostensibly so I'd keep my greedy paws off - but I'm happy to report that they induced no convulsions, no partial paralysis, no clawing at the throat whilst my eyes bulged.
Unfortunately, between the warmth produced by the throng and the dry mouth from all the talking, I had no appetite for cake, so I gulped down the butterfly I wheedled from PFI's lovely Janine and made my way out into the coolness of the evening.
I should note, however, that the beaming Perry Grosshans (PFI President and WIWF General Manager), who was captured for posterity with the cake, was uber-efficient in dispatching pieces of said bakery item to audience members far and wide.
He even enlisted me to take a piece to his lovely wife Tanya...
One more thing - I'd like to thank PFI for putting together the issue and also the event, and also for including me in same.
* bonus points for anyone that can name the poets captured in these photos...