The Pivot Reading Series is always great, and last’s event night was no different. We all huddled together in The Steady Bar and Cafe on Bloor St. West, poets and publishers alike, to listen to four authors read from their new work. Supposably starting at 8 (when we all know that means 8:45 in the Toronto lit community), we gathered in our seats, with our tap beers, and settled in for the night, letting our bodies relax and our minds roam free. The four writers reading last night were Kerry Clare, writer, editor, blogger and author of Mitzi Bytes, her debut novel; Aisha Sasha John, whose third poetry book I have to live. is out now from M&S. (Aisha’s previously published books are THOU, a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and the ReLit Award for Poetry, and The Shining Material, both from us at BookThug); Kateri Lanthier, whose poetry has been published in Canada, the US, and England; and lastly, the lovely Jennifer LoveGrove, who we were there to fully support, as she read from her new poetry book, Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes, which we published last month.
We were ecstatic that Jennifer got to read with such a superb line-up of writers and the night went spectacularly well. It kicked it off with Kateri Lanthier. She read her first poem, which won the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize, entirely from memory. Some skill! She took us through poems that explored such topics as menstrual cycles and red hair, making us laugh and feel all the feelings along with her. Next up was Kerry Clare. Her reading made us laugh more than we expected too when she chose an excerpt on a ventriloquist sex scene. It was the comic relief of the night, making us a bit quizzical and also very excited to read the book to find out more about Mitzi and her adventures. After the break and the conversations, it was Jennifer’s turn to read. As she is this month’s Writer-in-Residence at Open Book, she started out by referencing her recent blog post on “how not to do a shitty poetry reading”, and joked that she should have waited to post it after this reading, just in case we judged her for it. While reading the poems from Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes she explained how the series of Dream Specimen poems, which appear throughout the book, are based on actual dreams that she had. Jennifer also suggested that if we can’t figure out what to title a poem, call it a ‘Self Portrait.’ Thanks for the pro-tip, Jen! When Canisia Lubrin, the host of the evening, introduced Jennifer, she told the crowd about how she nearly wept last week when she witnessed Jennifer read the title poem from the book at her solo launch. Closing out the night was Aisha Sasha John, who started her reading as she always does, by pouring libations to honour the ancestors who came before her. Aisha then gave a very moving and powerful reading of her new work.
We ended the night feeling free and filled with new things to internalize. It was a good night with great people. Pivot is having their next reading series on April 19. Erin Robinsong, author of Rag Cosmology, will be one of the featured readers, along with Shane Neilson, Kevin Connolly, and Rebecca Rosenblum. Be sure not to miss it: https://www.facebook.com/events/113650232466446/