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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reading between the lonely

Andrea Dorfman and Tanya Davis' How To Be Alone is now a lovely book you can hold and look at daily

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM


“…just take the perspective you get from being one person alone in one head and feel the effects of it./ Take silence and respect it.”

The first incarnation of “How to Be Alone” was a collaborative video by two Haligonian artists: musician and former poet laureate Tanya Davis, and filmmaker/illustrator Andrea Dorfman. After the video was first released in 2010, it went viral. (At the time of this printing, it had over six million views.) In 2011 Davis released her first book of poetry, At First, Lonely, with PEI’s Acorn Press, but it is this one poem in its first incarnation that continues to garner attention for these two artists. This month, a gorgeous, illustrated version of the poem, How to Be Alone, was released by HarperCollins.

Initially, the poem was just intended to live inside the video. “We thought that was that,” explains Davis. “The rest is just a continuing bonus…. I feel grateful and fortunate…the poem keeps on living. People spread it [and] it keeps going.”

As Davis explains, because of the poem’s first “life” on the Internet, it has created a sort of community, which, in its own beautiful way, conquers the very fear of aloneness the poem encourages the reader to rise above. It has also provided Davis and Dorfman a direct line with an appreciative audience. “Getting feedback has been invaluable; a way to connect,” says Davis. “People have taught me things in a way I can’t measure. Part of that, ironically, is to not feel alone.”

And things haven’t slowed down since the video was first posted. “I still get emails from strangers several days a week,” Davis continues. “I feel connected and like I’m doing work that has a place…all we really want to do is to make art to give it away.”

Fans of the video will notice similar imagery in the book—it was Dorfman’s illustrations that graced the video—with a vibrant, cheerful palette that is equal parts whimsy and continuity. “Andrea did so much work,” Davis says. “I love the art that she makes and I trust her immensely.” Surprisingly, according to Davis, this is Dorfman’s first time illustrating a book. “I’m really happy for her, [and] for people who like the poem it’s like a souvenir.”

“Poetry is not considered the most accessible medium,” she continues, explaining how unusual it is that the poem “could be transcribed because the video was successful.” But perhaps it is the topic of How to Be Alone that is the great equalizer.

The launch for How to Be Alone, featuring original artwork, will be held on Saturday, November 23 at ((Parentheses)) Gallery from 7 to 10pm. You can count on being “surrounded, if you need it.”

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your morning in arts: Videos, videos, poetry, videos and mystery.

And videos.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

The many faces of AA Wallace
  • The many faces of AA Wallace

The Atlantic Film Festival Music & Image 10x10 Music Video Mentorship Program videos are all online, ready for your perusal. 10x10 matched 10 directors with 10 musicians to make 10 music videos over five days. The winning video will win $10,000, presented at the Closing Gala Awards Ceremony on September 19.

Although I'd love to embed them all here, I urge you to go to the AFF YouTube page instead. Here's your cheat sheet of musicians and directors, respectively. AA Wallace and Adam Penney; Andrew Hunter & The Gatherers and Brock Gallant; Dennis Elsworth and David J. Fulde; Breagh Mackinnon and Gesar Mukpo; Shaun Leblanc and Matthew Ingraham; Irish Mythen and Millefiore Clarkes; Kyle Mischiek and Kelsey Thompson; Rain Over St. Ambrose and Stephanie Young; Steven MacDougall and Jason Levangie; Gabrielle Papillon and Evan S. Elliot.

In other video news, check out this brand new, real cool and trippy one by Cheryl Hann for Broken Deer's "Saddest Song in Outer Space" off of Unseen World.

And someone better make a video for one of Alison Smith's poems quick, so I can stick with this theme. New Germany's Smith was selected as one of five English-language finalists for the CBC Poetry Prize. Smith's "Bluegrass Meteorology" was selected from over 2,000 works of poetry from across the country. The competition was juried by Sue Goyette, David McGimpsey and Anne Michaels.

Smith joins co-finalists Cassidy McFadzean of Regina, SK, Pamela Porter of North Saanich, BC, Robin Richardson of Toronto, ON and James Scoles of Winnipeg, MB in the knock-down, drag out fight to the finish for the prize of $6,000 and a two-week writing residency at The Banff Centre's Leighton Artists' Colony.

Read them all here!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

An ode to the Common

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 1:29 PM

  • Wikimedia Commons User: Sprocket

Crust punks
Open alcohol
Making your way downtown
McCartney (as in Paul)
Noise complaints

This year marks the 250th birthday of The Halifax Common or "The Commons" as it's most commonly referred (pun intended).

If you’re from Halifax you probably have a memory associated with this open space in the downtown area; whether it’s putting soap bubbles in the famous fountain, drinking on the bleachers, getting yelled at by patrons of the surrounding apartments to shut up, guessing what sort of bodily fluids are in that barely swimmable pool or getting chased by the dogs off their leash.

The Common has survived two and half centuries of us walking, biking, jogging, running, skateboarding, throwing Frisbees, pitching baseballs, kicking soccer balls, rollerblading, serving tennis balls and most recently skating through it for that long. Not to mention the somewhat scandalous concerts that have rocked the grounds. It’s about time we give our appreciation.

Friends of the Halifax Common along with Gaspereau Press are creating an anthology of poems in honour of the Common's birthday. If you are poetically inclined (unlike me evidently) you too can contribute!

There is an open submission for poems with the deadline being June 30. So get on your thinking caps and write your best haiku, freeverse, sonnet or even acrostic about our beloved field.

“I thought it was very complementary to represent the celebration of the commons in a narrative that would have been popular in the day. I’m sure in 1763 people would have been writing poems,” said Peggy Cameron, co-chair of the Friends of the Halifax Common.

The anthology will be released October 3-6 to coincide with the Halifax Common Festival 250. Get writing Haligonians!

For details contact Gaspereau Press and send entries to Halifax Common Poetry anthology, 6032 Charles Street Halifax, NS B3K 1L1.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Poetry for April and everyday

Poet Tanya Davis, Phanuel Antwi and Jaime Forsythe to read at Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library Tuesday, April 30, 7pm

Posted By on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Davis gets cozy with the world of poetry
  • Davis gets cozy with the world of poetry

Since the League of Canadian Poets established National Poetry Month in 1999, April is officially the busiest month for poets. The union of schools, booksellers, literary organizations, publishers, libraries and poets now come together annually to celebrate poetry’s crucial role in Canada’s culture.

In Halifax, celebrate all things poetical with a reading at Spring Garden Public Library with poets Tanya Davis, Jaime Forsythe and Phanuel Antwi on Tuesday, April 30 (Poetry, What's Happening? 7pm, Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library).

“I’m a poet in all the months. It doesn’t change anything for me,” says Davis. “I get more gigs in April. It would be more ideal to have poetry throughout the year.”

The intentions of National Poetry Month were developed by the League of Canadian Poets, whose mandate for the month is to educate and expand poetry audiences, boost poetry sales, increase poetry’s profile in media and hopefully inspire more reading, writing and teaching of Canadian poetry. “National Poetry Month is for the people who don’t read or write poetry,” says Davis. “There are no answers in poetry, or to any of our questions. And yet we keep choosing it, reaching for the unanswerable.”

Davis believes poetry is a way of life. It’s in how she takes her coffee, ties her laces, and interacts within her community. As a spoken word poet and performer, Davis is a public poetic figure. Her video poem “How To Be Alone”, a collaboration with filmmaker Andrea Dorfman, and poetry collection At First, Lonely (published by Acorn Press), are mere testaments to her poetic presence in this city.

For Davis, poetry is a reminder of our humanity, with splashes of inexplicable magic and insight. Poetry is integral to society, a means of thoughtful consideration, and to documenting the evolution of our species. “My role as a poet is to be an observer,” she says. “My job here on the planet is to watch what is going on. Observe it, and report back with my words. That’s my role here.”

For the past 18 months, Davis served as Halifax’s poet laureate. Her role was to be a new voice of poetic counsel in our community. Davis term as poet laureate officially ended in December, though she is still acting as the city’s go to poet until the next poet laureate takes over the reigns. Of her time as poet laureate, Davis’ most affirming and memorable experience was speaking at Raymond Taavel’s vigil last April. She read her poem, “For Raymond, and for all the Raymonds, which is to say: for everyone”---in a time of deep grief, confusion, and devastation, her words offered grace, and comfort. “It was an honour to be poet laureate,” Davis says. “It made me want to be a better poet, and to write better poems.”

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