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By Juan O’Neill
Chair, Sasquatch Board of Directors

 

If you would like to respond to a Yeti blog entry, please indicate which date you are responding to, and send us an e-mail with text inserted into the body of the message to:
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February 22, 2006


             Hi yeti fans. We’re back, and we have company. You may remember that in the first installment of this blog, I expressed the somewhat quixotic hope that there might be other yeti-like big-footed ones dwelling on other continents besides Asia and North America (where the yeti is, of course, known as the sasquatch, and is the totem animal of this reading series). Well, the mysterious force called synchronicity made an instant connection.

On Saturday, February 25, the very day that that first blog appeared on our web page, an article in the Globe & Mail Travel Section announced that a new attraction at Disney World is a scale model of Mount Everest, with a huge, hairy, howling Himalayan yeti in residence. True, it is mechanical; but as Gertrude Stein once said about roses I’ll say about yetis: a yeti is a yeti is a yeti. Welcome to Florida, Brother (or Sister, for in the Globe & Mail article your gender was not specified). Canada’s snowbirds will no doubt find you thrilling, and perhaps a little scary.

Let me assure you that it is not our intention in this blog, despite the formidable associations of our name, to frighten; but merely to give a frisson to your literary instincts. In our blog I’ll tell you about our readings and the people who participate in them; and describe the books, chapbooks, CD’s, broadsheets and posters that we are offering for sale. There will also be a Guest Book, where you can enter whatever you want to say to us. Yetis or sasquatches may be huge and hairy but they’re thoroughly democratic. They’ve managed to tolerate humans for thousands of years, though pretty successfully staying out of sight. Smart of them. Can you imagine what a trophy hunter would give to put a stuffed sasquatch or yeti head on the wall of his or her den?

 

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Our featured guest at the last Sasquatch, on Sunday, February 26, was Carlinda D’Alimonte, who was in Ottawa on a book tour with her collection of poetry entitled, “Now That We Know Who We Are”, published by Black Moss Press. Her reading was sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council of the Arts.

The daughter of Italian immigrants, D’Alimonte writes with eloquence and poignancy of prejudice, new Canadians, identity, the vulnerability of children, death and loss, and the emergencfe of a writer’s voice. Especially powerful are her evocations of the struggles of the children of immigrants to fit into the life of Canada. Immigrant parents are hard-working, struggling to make a good life in a strange land, often consumed by nostalgia for their homelands; their children are separated from them by a gulf of identity and experience that is often hard to bridge.

Carlinda D’Alimonte lives in Tecumseh, Ontario, with her husband and two daughters. She teaches English and Creative Writing in Windsor, Ontario.

 

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As always, our Open Mic was full of surprises.  For the first time ever, we heard a poem in Farsi, the stately language of Iran. The poet was Daryoush (he explained that his name is that of ancient Iranian emperors, known to the Greeks as Darius). He read several other of his poems in excellent English. Daryoush said, half-humourously that “everyone in Iran is a poet, even the fanatics”.  Hearing him gave us a different take on the life of the people of a country chiefly notable in recent years as being part of the “Axis of Evil”.

Carol Stephen, from Carleton Place, read poems of hers for the first time in front of an audience, expressing herself with sensitivity and aplomb. She was nervous, she admitted, but to give herself courage wore an elegant three-cornered hat with a plume in it.

Carl Edgar Law, of Kingston, who has recently, after a long period of silence, started reading his work at various poetry venues, read several of his   poems: serious and well-crafted.

Lynne Alsford, always vivid and original, read several poems, including haiku and a poem about a definitive red dress. 

K.G. Gordon, read a number of his thought-provoking aphoristic “Gordonisms”, brief and sharply to the point on a wide variety of subjects.

I read a poem about the lack of balance in media coverage of the world; how the humble and near at hand is neglected for the far away and sensational; and how I know more about Sunni and Shia, Afghans and Kurds than abut the homeless people of Ottawa.

Jacqueline Zena read sensitive inspirational work, with an emphasis on life-affirmation.

John Woodsworth played the balalaika and sang “Moscow Nights” and read some passages from his translation of “The Ringing Cedars” a series of Russian best-selling novels.

Nancy Rattle, read several of her strongly earthy poems.

That was it for Sasquatch, February 26, 2006.

But the afternoon was not yet over. As I emerged from the Downstairs Room at the Royal Oak II pub, where Sasquatch is held, I ran into an old friend, Alooktook Ipperle, an Innuit poet who writes with great insight and intensity of the life of the Canadian Far North. We spoke for a long time about the life and death of cultures, the crisis of global warming, nowhere more evident and alarming than in the Arctic, and how his people are struggling to preserve as much of their ancient ways as they can: for example, there has been a renaissance in throat-singing, which had become an almost lost art.

I left the pub, feeling inspired and challenged by the cultural riches available to Canadians.

The next Sasquatch reading is on Sunday, March 12. We will proudly feature young writers who studied Creative Writing under Seymour Mayne at the University of Ottawa during the 2004-2005 year. Now, one year later, they will launch an anthology of their work entitled “Norman Drive”. The writers include: Rhonda Douglas, Jesse Ferguson, Jeff Fry, Teresa Jewell, John Kelly, Jennifer Leap, Wanda O’Connor, and Tree Renaud. They will be introduced by Seymour Mayne. Readings every year by Seymour Mayne’s students are a Sasquatch tradition of long-standing.

There will of course be an Open Mic.

The date: March 12; the time: 2:00 p.m.; the place: Royal Oak II pub, 161 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa. We meet on the second and fourth Sunday every month, except July and August. There is no admission fee, only the passing around of El Sombrero for voluntary donations.

 

Be There.

 

Juan

 

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The following works are currently on sale at Sasquatch:

Translations from Russian to English by John Woodsworth of thee of the novels in a brilliant series of novels under the overall title of “The Ringing Cedars”, which feature a wise yet naïve, possibly extraterrestrial heroine named Anastasia and are a current runaway best-sellers in Russia (John tells us that in Siberia there are ancient cedar trees that on their own actually make a humming or ringing sound);

Two chapbooks by Lynne Alsford: one is entitled “Taliban” and is an indictment of the cruelty perpetrated against women by the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a theme that unfortunately has acquired fresh relevance, as Canadian troops battle Taliban guerillas in the Kandahar area; the other is “Beach Plum Jam”, poems ranging from the riotously bawdy to the exquisitely sensuous; thoughtful poems about Sylvia Plath and William Faulkner; and hauntingly beautiful meditations about an old tree, the mysterious, vanished Anasazi people of the U.S. Southwest, and the death of Princess Diana.

There are also richly-coloured Sasquatch posters, featuring paintings by Susan Woodsworth and layout by John Woodsworth.

For further information regarding purchase of these items, contact John, Lynne and Susan through our e-mail address: e-sasquat.ca.

Anyone wishing to offer literary, musical or visual art works for sale, bring them to Sasquatch and if we think they’re good, we’ll place them on our For Sale table and list them here.

Prices are strictly up to the authors, musicians and artists.




February 12, 2006


            Hi. I’m Juan O’Neill, chair of the SASQUATCH board of directors.

Welcome to our new blog. Bon giorno, buenos dias, bon jour, wie gehts, salaam, shalom, kalimera, namaste, migwich, ni hau.

OK, that proves we’re cosmopolitan. But why YETI?

YETI, in case you haven’t been informed yet by book, blog or print and broadcast media, is the Himalayan cousin of SASQUATCH, that legendary inhabitant of British Columbia and adjacent portions of the U.S.A., which our Writers’ Performance Series long ago adopted as our totem animal. By calling our blog YETI, we are therefore announcing to the world that we have a foot (a big foot) on more than one continent. If anyone out there in Cyberland has heard of or sighted any sasquatch-like sorts on any of the other continents or islands of the sea, by all means let us know. We are in an expansive mood.

Of course if you’re meeting us for the first time, you might justifiably ask: Why SASQUATCH? Our home is, after all, Ottawa, and there aren’t supposed to be any sasquatches in these parts. But we have plenty of forest in our general area, where a sasquatch family migrating from B.C., Washington or Oregon, could find plenty of cover in which to hide, eat, sleep, make love, raise little sasquatches, and avoid those smaller and less hairy two-legged mammals that are making such a mess of the planet, and which sasquatches (whether they exist or not) have managed to avoid, barring the odd “sighting”, for millennia.

An example of the longevity of the sasquatch legend is a somewhat over the top theory that the evil monsters, Grendel and his mother, in the Early English epic poem, “Beowolf”, may have been sasquatches defending their territory and satiating their hunger, their favorite dish being the aforementioned mammal, a habit that the Good Guy of the tale, Beowolf, put a stop to.

Our story is much more recent and less gastronomically original, but it has its aura of suspense too. Will a real 500 pound-plus sasquatch show up one day at one of our readings to find out what is going on under the sasquatch label, big feet pounding thunderously as he or she approaches our cozy den? There is an amusing poem by Ottawa poet George Betts on our web page that suggests this possibility, as well as offering an original take on the Elvis epic. (Or if it isn’t there yet, it will be soon).

 To find out more about the past of SASQUATCH, The Series, please click right here on the word history.

Today, after various changes of venue and countless comings and goings of writers and other artists who have shared their works with us and our audiences, we are holding regular readings (usually with musicians participating) twice every month on the second and fourth Sunday (except during July and August, or if one of our Sundays coincides with a major holiday) starting at two in the afternoon in the Downstairs Room of the Royal Oak II pub, 161 Laurier Avenue East, near the University of Ottawa. Usually our readings last until four thirty or five.

People are welcome to drop in or leave at any time during the program, for we are not a school or a church. But if you want to put your name down for the Open Mic, better be there at two sharp. The Royal Oak is of course fully licensed and has an ample and varied food menu. We do not charge an admission fee, but pass El Sombrero for voluntary contributions which pay for our web site and posters.

In our blog we will tell you about our previous reading and the people who participated, and also describe the books, chapbooks, CD’s, broadsheets and posters that we are offering on our FOR SALE table. You will also find a Guest Book on our web page, where you can enter whatever you wish to say to us.

 The SASQUATCH reading on Sunday, February 12, was attended by about thirty people. Our special guest was a lady of great talent and beauty. Evelyn Voigt was born in what is now Tanzania on a coffee and tea plantation. African images and words weave magical and mysterious patterns in many of her poems. She is fluent in Swahili and has often visited Africa on behalf of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Evelyn has performed her “soundscapes”, as she calls her poems, which are rich in subtle images of nature and the human condition and are often accompanied by music, in Zimbabwe, Romania, Tanzania, Kosovo, and of course Canada.

The poems she recited at the last SASQUATCH, with brilliant guitar accompaniment by Rene Gely, a native Ottawan with an international reputation as an arranger, performer and teacher, covered a wide territory of body and soul, ranging from the joyous freedom of a child growing up in the African bush, to a sadly regimented little girl sent to a Dickensian boarding school, to a sometimes world-weary contemporary woman, cherishing times of peaceful withdrawal from a troubled planet.

“Kulala…kulala….la…la…..” Evelyn chanted softly in Swahili, describing a state of dreamlike enchantment, and we were enchanted.   

As always, there was a varied group of people who performed during the two Open Mic periods.

Carl Edgar Law, a Valley poet, read poems of sensitive or trenchant interior and exterior dialogue. It was not only his first reading at SASQUATCH, but his first reading in 41 years, proving that it is never too late for a poet to give wings to the spoken word.

Susan Woodsworth amusingly described the awesome prospect of a high school reunion after a long separation from the place and people involved.

Maureen Glaude offered several beautiful tanka, haiku, and one free verse poem, on themes such as love, winter and the half-moon.

Lynne Alsford showed that she can do haiku and write about cats with the same ease and eloquence with which she deals with themes such as sex, the Virgin Mary, and the sea.

Chris Sorrenti offered a moving tribute to Irving Layton and a poem celebrating Ottawa’s laid-back relations between the capital’s many ethnicities.

John Woodsworth, a poet and musician equally fluent in English and Russian expressed once again his versatility, having read two poems set in Moscow, and sang, accompanying himself on his balalaika, the famous Russian ballad, “Katyusha”.

Yours Truly (i.e. Juan O’Neill, the author of this blog) sang “Rose of Istanbul”, a song he composed in memory of an unforgettable love in that city of golden dreams, sunlight and shadow and speaking stones.

Sandra Howard showed us once again the extraordinarily delicacy and imagery of her work, truly poetry that one can “see”.

Sharon Liu performed, in English, sijo, which are brief vividly evocative poems in accordance with ancient Japanese tradition, and are the form from which haiku developed.

Jacqueline Zena presented haiku and also a rhymed poem. Her theme was “winners”, a heartfelt celebration of people who do not give up.

Michel Sincennes read translations of “ghazals”, an exquisite form of poetry, much cultivated in the lands of Islam for many centuries. The ghazals he read were translations from Urdu to English.

Kevin Dooley brought the music of another language, strangely familiar yet unfamiliar: Gaelic, in its Irish form; a language more ancient than any other living European language, except perhaps Lithuanian or Basque. Yet the poems he read, followed by English translations, were startlingly modern in theme and were written by Irish women employing the old tongue in a contemporary context.

Nancy Rattle, a Valley poet reading at SASQUATCH for the first time, recited strongly and earthily passionate poetry with verve and eloquence.

Finally, Julie Loper, a much-loved former resident of Ottawa, here with her husband, Don, for a short visit (they now live in Comox, B.C.), read several of her powerfully evocative poems, and concluded with an old favorite, delivered in a Franco-Canadian accent, about a lonely hunter living in the woods with his true love, his rifle, and their encounter with a big, aggressive bear.

Thank you, Julie, for not making it a sasquatch.

Our next reading, on Sunday, February 26, will be at the same time and place, barring extraterrestrial invasion, an avian flu quarantine,  or the declaration of a state of national mourning for the defeat of Canada’s men’s hockey team at the Turin Olympics (but bravissimo to the Canadian women for their many victories in various events, and also to the Canadian men who managed to bring home some metal!), namely at two p.m. in the Downstairs Room of the Royal Oak II pub, 161 Laurier Avenue East, near the University iof Ottawa. Our featured guest is Carlinda D’Alimonte, who is currently on a book tour with her collection of poetry entitled, “Now That We Know Who We Are”, published by Black Moss Press. Her reading is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council of the Arts.

Be there. Ciao.

Juan

 

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Commercial addenda. The following works are currently on sale at SASQUATCH:

Translations from Russian to English by John Woodsworth of thee of the novels in a series of novels under the overall title of “The Ringing Cedars”, which feature a possibly extraterrestrial heroine named Anastasia and are a current runaway best-sellers in Russia;

Two chapbooks by Lynne Alsford. One is entitled “Taliban” and is an indictment of the cruelty perpetrated against women by the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a theme that unfortunately has acquired fresh relevance, as Canadian troops battle Taliban guerillas in the Kandahar area; the other is “Beach Plum Jam”,  erotic poems ranging from the riotously bawdy to the exquisitely sensuous, thoughtful poems about Sylvia Plath and William Faulkner, and a hauntingly beautiful meditation following a visit to Cedar Mesa, about the mysterious, vanished Anasazi people;

Richly textured and hued SASQUATCH posters, featuring paintings by Susan Woodsworth and layout by John Woodsworth.

For further information, contact John, Susan and Lynne at the next SASQUATCH.

Anyone wishing to offer literary, musical or visual art works for sale, bring them and we’ll put them on the table, whether reader or viewer discretion is advised or not…

 

If you would like to respond to a Yeti blog entry, please indicate which date you are responding to, and send us an e-mail with text inserted into the body of the message to:
sasquatc@e-sasquatch.ca 

 

   

 

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