Posted by: Susan J. Atkinson
On November 17, 2022, at 7:30 pm, Redbird Live will host its first poetry event. Old Ottawa South’s music venue at 1165 Bank Street, has graciously agreed to host this special evening, which promises to be an insanely amazing night of poetry!
This will be an event not to be missed as five award-winning Ottawa poets, which include myself, Conyer Clayton, Jacqueline Bourque, Deborah-Anne Tunney and Doris Fiszer take to the stage at Redbird Live to have the champagne moment of launching our debut collections. None of these superb collections was actually published this year, but rather they were copyrighted in either 2020 or 2021. The significance of which meant they were not only published during the pandemic but also during the provincial lockdowns, making it impossible to enjoy and celebrate with an in-person launch or event.
The idea for the evening had begun percolating back in the spring. My debut collection, The Marta Poems, was published in 2020 by Silver Bow Publishing, and though I had been fortunate enough (along with Doris Fiszer, whose debut, Locked in Different Alphabets, also published in 2020 by Silver Bow Publishing), to have an amazing launch on Zoom, it was not quite the same as being with people.
There was a feeling that something had been missing from the process of the first book. Without the hoopla of reading, touring and sharing The Marta Poems, it was clear that the something missing was the chance to be in front of family and friends and a real-live audience. What was missing was that moment of celebration, that could be shared after years of hard work, rejections, acceptances, revisions etc. etc. Because this moment had been missed, I felt that the book would be put in a drawer, never to have its day before moving onto the next project.
I was sure if that feeling was missing for me it was undoubtedly missing for other poets, who had also been unable to gather to read from their debut collections. The idea quickly grew to include Clayton, Bourque, Tunney and Fiszer. All four poets live in Ottawa, with first books published during the lockdown years, but what’s more all have either won or been shortlisted for major awards!
Clayton’s, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, won The Ottawa Book Award in 2021 for her collection. Bourque’s, Repointing the Bricks is nominated for this year’s award. Tunney won the 2021 Archibald Lampman award for A Different Wolf and at the same time Fiszer’s collection, Locked in Different Alphabets, was on the shortlist.
A book launch typically, though not always, takes place in a bookstore or a similarly intimate space, such as a small bar or café, but with the calibre and the anticipation of this reading these venues would probably exceed capacity – hence the idea to approach Redbird Live.
When approached, Geoff Cass, owner of Redbird, was immediately receptive and supportive of the idea, especially as the event supports local artists.
Redbird opened its doors to the public on February 22nd, 2022 and now offers private lessons for students of all ages and abilities, group lessons, community programming/access, summer and March break daytime programming for kids. The building is also open daily from 11:30 am for lunch, coffee/tea, snacks. Any time the stage is not programmed, people are welcome to come and jam, write songs etc. When asked if there was any particular hope or dream for his new venue, Geoff replied that he recognized the need for a live music space in Ottawa, Central Ottawa to be exact and went for it.
For myself and the other poets, the space not only has the capacity to host a reasonably sized event, but with its amazing acoustics, and the high-top cocktail tables circling the stage it seems like a perfect place for an evening of unforgettable poetry.
Trust me, you may not think you are a fan of poetry, but I guarantee this event will change your mind! So, consider this your personal and official invitation. Please come on out to Redbird Live, November 17th at 7:30 pm for an outstanding evening of poetry in one of Ottawa South’s newest, trendiest and most comfortable places.
Susan J. Atkinson is a poet living in Old Ottawa South. Her debut collection of poems, The Marta Poems was published in 2020. Visit www.susanjatkinson.com to find out more.
Featured in the November 2022 OSCAR.