Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Music: DeCroo Releases Allegheny, BC

Renowned Canadian songwriter Rodney DeCroo is launching his debut collection of poetry, Allegheny, BC (Nightwood Editions, $18.95) in Vancouver at the Little Mountain Gallery on 26 Avenue and Main St. on Saturday, September 22. Doors open at 7:45pm, show starts at 8:15. Rodney's performance will feature poems from the book, as well as his music. He will be joined by Doug Andrews, the Minimalist Jugband, Torsten Muller and Christine Rose. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Allegheny, BC is an unsettling collection in which Rodney DeCroo delivers raw footage of a childhood marred by violence, sudden uprootings and abuse. It is a vividly gritty tour through his troubled past in a small coal town, the bush of northern BC and the bars, strip clubs, seedy hotels and bleak streets of both large Canadian cities and small, isolated towns. Sobering and straightforward, the poems are fiercely potent. DeCroo's raw language and stark vision of reality will stick with you, as will “a nausea-twist in your stomach” and “the smell of/ tobacco, sweat, beer and coal dust.” It is a collection that reveals, with urgent intensity, the shape of a life in an abrasive world.
This book expands upon the lyrics in DeCroo's latest album, Allegheny, and broadens the harrowing narrative of his past. The book and album, together, are a reclamation project, an imaginative remembering through the savaged places of the human heart into a state of beauty and acceptance.
Rodney DeCroo, who is headlining the event, will be performing his poems and songs. The line-up also includes: Doug Andrews from the band, The Circus In Flames, who has shared the stage with everyone from the Ramones to Raffi to Ramblin' Jack Elliott; The Minimalist Jugband—with a look that is part scarecrow, part Johnny Cash, and part hillbilly evangelist—who stares out at the audience with a wild look in his eyes as he plunks a wash tub bass and recites poems about wearing a pair of dead man's pants, his inability to distinguish between a raven and a crow, or anything else that happens to capture his imagination; Torsten Muller, an internationally renowned free music/ jazz improviser and acoustic bassist who has performed concerts all over the world with a diverse array of gifted improvisers; and Christine Rose, whose songs are lyrically driven, aiming for honesty and poetry, and finding the melody on which to hang the words.
For more information about Rodney DeCroo, go to

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Literary: Summer Dreams Festival – A Movable and Free Literary Arts Feast

By Mary Duffy

“It’s kind of like coming home,” says Bonnie Nish, Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective, of this year’s 9th annual Sumer Dreams Literary Arts Festival.  The festival, which spent its first years at the Vancouver Art Gallery and then moved to Stanley Park, now takes place at Trout Lake, 300 Victoria Drive, on Saturday, August 25th. Summer Dreams is very much at home in Eastside Vancouver.

Nish, the artistic director of Summer Dreams, has just come home after a summer in the Swiss Alps working on her PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy at the European Graduate School. Therefore, the festival planning had to start earlier than before, with Nish assembling a team of volunteers and feeding them pizza, chili and Pasta Gardenia during meetings at her home, starting just after last year’s festival finished.

Twisted Poets, a Pandora’s Collective venture, just celebrated its 10th year. This was where Bonnie began to dream about creating a showcase connecting local poets in one big festival. Pandoras’ presents a mix of published, award winning writers alongside emerging writers and open mike performers, and debuted at a Commercial Drive café, hosting legendary poets such as Bill Bissett and local spoken-word stars such as R.C. Weslowski.

The Summer Dreams Festival is like an immense expansion of Twisted Poets, featuring poets, children’s authors, musicians and performers from across the lower mainland. The festival, which started with one stage at the Vancouver Art Gallery, has now grown exponentially and will present three stages, on the 25th, at Trout Lake; and a gala night on Friday, the 24th, at the CBC Studio 700, at 700 Hamilton St. The festival is free and open to the public and is aimed at “anyone who loves words, stories or poetry”.

According to Nish, “the gala will honour many who deserve to be recognized,”. This years award recipients  are poets Joe Rosenblatt, Wayde Compton, Heather Haley and Steve Duncan  in addition to D&M Publishers and the magazine, Adbusters. The evening of the 24th will also feature award-winning poet George Bowering and the music of Mount Pleasant’s Inchoiring Minds, followed by a silent auction replete with a smorgasbord of treasures from local artists, craftspeople and businesses.

The Saturday outdoor festival at Trout Lake on the 25th will share the park with the Farmer’s Market, and will provide many pleasures. You can listen to the traditional music of Darfur performed by Sundada, featuring the oud playing of Alaaeldin Abdalla, groove to the fusion of Leanne Averbach’s spoken word poetry accompanied by the jazz/blues of Indigo, or dance to the beat of spoken-word artist Barbara Adler and Fang, Vancouver’s famous accordion rock band. You can attend author-readings, workshops, readings by children’s writers, and other performances, on three stages. You can join in a “Free Silly Workshop” for adults, and participate in crafts and face painting for the younger set. You can move through this joyful fair and consume a cornucopia of desserts.

The fest hosts a feast of amazing artists from musicians to award winning ‘page’ and slam poets , including Evelyn Lau, Jillian Christmas, Denis E. Bolan, Daniela Elza, Billeh Nickerson, and Tanya Evanson.  As Nish says, “It’s a great way to get involved in the literary community and see what’s out there”. You might even decide to
 continue to follow or join one of the many featured writing or performance groups; from the Vancouver Storytellers to the Van Slam Poetry team this fest offers something for everyone.

And in the true spirit of an East Vancouver potluck, the festival invites you to participate. There will be two open mikes that you can sign up for on the day of the 25th, if you would like bring some of your own creations to share at this party.

For more information and a complete list of events and performers you can visit:
or email
or call


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Literary: Poetry Olympians Hit Summer Dreams!

Jillian Christmas
While Canadians are watching our athletes in London, closer to home, a team of four young writers are going for it all in Charlotte, North Carolina, and being noticed by a large, discriminating poetry audience.

Vancouver is one of only two Canadian teams (the other being Toronto) in a sea of American teams, with a smattering of European contenders. Despite being considered underdogs, they have reached the finals with their group piece, this after a grueling round robin series of bouts where members of the audience are recruited to judge the poetry with score cards, figure skater-style on a scale of 1-10. Poems can be no longer than 3 minutes or the team is subjected to a time penalty.

The National Poetry Slam is the annual poetry slam championship tournament, wherein four- to five-person teams from all over North America and Europe gather to compete against each other for the national team title. It has become part superbowl, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. Staged in a different city each year, the National Poetry Slam has emerged as slam’s highest-profile showcase.

This year’s Vancouver team is made up of Jillian Christmas, Erich Haygun, Zaccheus Jackson, Erin Kirsh and Julie Peters.

Jilian Christmas on YouTube

Fresh off the Greyhound, the team takes to the stage at Trout Lake with almost 90 other writers and performers on Saturday, August 25th for the Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival.

Volunteers are needed. It’s a great way to meet people and learn more about event planning and Vancouver's vibrant writing community.  Those interested can sign up on the website at

For more information about the festival, including complete directions and line up, check out our website: or email or call 604-788-8340

Labels: , , ,

Special Event: Artful Sundays Are Back @ Brittania

Click on the pic for a larger version. Check it out this this Sunday!

Labels: ,