Saturday, July 3, 2021

                                           https://www.gordonhillpress.com/products/stars-need-counting

 

“There is but one truly philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” Albert Camus The Myth of Sisyphus

 

            For those who have attempted suicide and failed, those who have lost someone they have loved because of self-killing, and those who keep their suicidal ideation a secret: there is no greater shame than the one who thinks evil of this. - (Honi Soit qui Mal y pense.)

 

_______________________________________

 

 

In the epigraphs before the preface to Concetta Principe’s rigorous and brilliantly poetic meditation on suicide, she is careful to set up subtly contrasting sentiments that begin this impressive and thoroughly researched collection of essays, sprinkled heavily with startlingly beautiful segments of poetic prose. This may be a simultaneously difficult and breathtakingly comforting read for anyone who has questioned the complex and horrific death toll that the twentieth century and the first two decades of the twenty first century have amassed. An important read for anyone interested in discovering how one articulate being looks closely at suicide and its myriad implications. 

 

One particularly haunting segment occurring halfway through the essay entitled Afghanistan Is Not Suicide possesses the signature poetic strains that rise up throughout the collection -

 

 

            As per the soldier’s training, he keeps the facade of marble and hides the depression room at all costs. Makes it so that no one sees Afghanistan as a room inside, projected on the night, porous with dreams. I can imagine this but I don’t understand. I was not deployed; I was never interested in pro patria mori; I was not born a fighter coming of age in a post-9/11 world. Honestly, army life is an enigma, but I can see it is full of the promises of belonging, which everyone wants. It also offers a pretty structured system around honour and shame, so that you know what is right and what is wrong, and you know a mistake when you make it. The soldier is told it is Afghanistan that is the cause, but then is treated as if everything he is suffering is his fault. The gaslighting forces the corporal inwards.

            The fact is, even if I can get inside because I know how these rooms are built, I would not know where to start dismantling the room that the Military’s Afghanistan built around him.  

 

            *

 

            There is a closed response to suicide, like a room around the soldier’s room. This outer room, a shield perhaps with some bricks slipping, is the room that surrounds the inner room, as if it is a device for quarantine. The slipping of outdated mortar. This room, it has no doors so they can’t get in and she won’t leak out all over the place. But she keeps her window with which to hear the world. She’s not totally inhuman. And humanity comes in, distorted, through these layers of judgment, thick and sturdy. She doesn’t even know the mortar is crumbling. Even if the outside started tearing down what’s coming apart, they won’t get in. There is nothing she can tell him.  [pp 33-34]

 

 

Principe dares to move in and out of notions clearly related to suicide, and instances where suicide becomes an indirect yet pivotal global spectre, looming over many cultures in a world hell bent upon destroying itself and its inhabitants via complex socially conceived structures - ranging from war, to commodification, motherhood, anorexia, Sylvia Plath, and “THE BLOOR LINE.” 

 

In the essay entitled CASE STUDY: KATE SPADE a designer silk scarf becomes a vaguely comforting yet frightening signifier within a brief yet harrowing encounter with the news of a celebrity designers suicide by hanging. Including herself in this essay, and elsewhere throughout the collection, the author reveals a simultaneous fear/fearlessness regarding confronting the ghost of suicide that plays a part in so many lives.

 

The sheer range of topic and emotion packed into 159 pages may be compared to that cliched roller coaster ride of sentiment we so often feel when someone close to us makes the decision to take their own life. Sentiments including anger, shame, grief, and regret. Principe moves deftly through and beyond the sorrow of the individual, honouring all of the grief and complexities of dealing with the loss of a loved one to self-killing. She provides her reader with a heart-wrenching yet vastly engaging mediation on one of life’s most dire mythologies, or as Camus says in the epigraph - the “one truly philosophical problem.” A difficult read for some perhaps, but a must read for anyone interested in attempting to understand how suicide is a deeply complicated mechanism built into living. 

 

She closes with a beautiful and lightly hopeful paragraph, relating to parts of her own subject position as woman and mother, indirectly citing the collections title in her final words -

 

 

 

… At school he learns to count to one hundred, then he is bringing home stars for excellence in math, for his spelling.

            Slowly the grinding in me fades and I start to hear things. A cardinal, twittering and trilling. The whining of my sweet feral cat to be let out. The cackle of squirrels. My love, back from school, running in the door. [p159]

 

 

‘Cackle, twitter, trill, whining, sweetness, feral…My love…running in the door.’ 

 

 

            

            A cacophony of life’s joy and heartbreak, as it begins and ends, as it counts each star. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021



in your bleak, times of trouble, &

the uncertain Years to,

Come,

My two skeletal, well lotioned

hands,

Could be the ones,

That free your famished tiger, from its

Bird…..cage

& Hoist in

Your Wayward

direction, the stark, White -

un-onion skinning light,


of….


The Black, Lactating

Sun.


from the poem 'Olga' - Stedmond’ Pardy’s 

The Pleasures Of This Planet Aren’t Enough

Mosaic Press, forthcoming, July 2021 (official release)


In the final stanza of Olga, Stedmond Pardy brings together a romantic declaration of unbridled adoration and a general missive for these wearying times. His uncut declaration of a vivid gaze spent upon a  “Criminally Un-venerated girl” creates a capsule of thematic suggestive versification running through the collection, in parts surreal observation of a city and a planet gone terribly ‘wrong,’ and an unabashed caring for and loving toward the bodies he encounters in urban, semi-dreamscapes - poetic sites that poet Dane Swan has called a debut collection by a writer “As heavily influenced by surrealism as he is the Beat Generation . . . full of awes, beauty, wonder, darkness, despair and much more."


Pardy’s romantic declarations take on a beautifully skewed heteronormative tone, making inroads into a more marginalized gaze when he speaks, through simile,  of ‘Olga’ “Being like a refugee in the brutal cold, in urgent need  of, winter…..clothes/or a Transgender/boy Forced to wrestle…” A form of queer normative gazing refracts through urban corporeal views as the observer revels in and describes, with elegantly crafted abandon, the bodies that move him.


A gorgeous tension between landscapes, both human and geographic, changing with time and torrent, exists throughout the collection, becoming, simultaneously, a staccato, fluid, rhythmic and seamless series of poems that meander energetically in and out of each new title, subtly linking and dividing them as the writer speaks candidly of his impressions.


And the titles stand alone as enticing invitations into this intimate mindset, ranging from  the present nostalgia of A free jazz poem for Joan Baez and Ode to Liza Minelli, to “The Script for Taxi Driver scared the shit out of Everybody” and A Fragment of a Long poem written whilst walking down Yonge Street.


What begin as engaging icons, in their titular presence (Baez & Minelli), become journey poems far away from the subject of initial desire, and into a kind of free associative map of specific moments in specific times.


Ah, I can clearly remember The

The Nebulous Vistas of our lunar earth!

Us

Self exiling Ourselves along the

Seashores of that OTHER World,

David Bowie & Nine Inch Nails Touring,

Together in 1995,

The St, John, St. Vitus Mania,

of 1518,

You dating Steve Jobs? & Bob Dylan,

& you locking arms with Me,

After

Your performance, at Roy Thomson 

HALL.

A free jazz poem for Joan Baez


Evocative, beautifully broken line breaks, capital letters in a sea of free verse and jazz-like meditations, blank spaces elegantly littered throughout, suggesting breathlessness and pause, saturate the pages of this collection with a literary performance heralded as a potentially “landmark” moment "in Canadian literature.” (Dane Swan, back cover)


In some ways these are Toronto poems that speak to a global audience from the perspective of a writer whose life has been profoundly affected by the physical changes of a city he has spent much of his life in (e.g. Yonge Street). And then the time, intimated in his work, when his global visitation was about to expand, and the next pandemic arrived, and everything changed, except for the poet's passion for putting words to paper and giving them a vivid, rich, and startling life of their own.


____________________________



EARLY ACCESS

30% Off Till Official Release Date!


“The joy of publishing is discovering a totally original and new voice…here in Stedmond Pardy we have found ONE!”


“This first collection of poems by Stedmond Pardy has the potential to become a landmark in Canadian literature – to encourage you to become lost inside a painting. No street is just a street, no addict, an addict with Pardy.Reading Stedmond Pardy’s jazz-infused poetry is to be pulled into a different world, whether you wish to be there, or not. As heavily influenced by surrealism as he is by the Beat Generation, the worlds Pardy creates can be full of awes, beauty, wonder, darkness, despair and much more. Pardy the poet is willing to take risks, beyond vacuous, redundant mimicry; Pardy dares to swim in the deep end of the pool.”

Dane Swan, author of A Mingus Lullaby, 2017 Trillium Book Award for Poetry Finalist.


Stedmond Pardy’s is a barbaric voice. No mere versifier, his lines and cadences come from deep in his body where the imagination lives. A walk down Younge Street becomes an Daliesque voyage, the poem’s imagery conjured from an inner world where beached whales coexist with Joan Baez, the Pyntian Oracle at Delphi and the corrupted premier of Italy. A psychedelic rant, Pardy’s poetry is also the utterance of a well-informed, streetwise, passionate voice, prophesying doom and hoping for peace in long, lyric lines that sing. “

Stanely Fefferman, author of Heart of all Music & Home was Elsewhere.


Stedmond Pardy is a self educated, Left handed Poet of Mixed Ancestry ( Newfoundland & St. Kitts/Nevis ). Originally from the Lakeshore, Mimico area & now residing…Dionysus knows Where?…He got into the literary scene AFTER THE Mysterious music Reviewer the Lonely Vagabond got hold of some of his work, & Hooked him up with The late great poet & Host of the radio show “Howl on 89.5 CIUT”. Since then He has performed his work Around the Greater Toronto Area & has appeared on stages In Montreal & Washington state. The Quotes “An artist is an instrument through which the Universe reveals itself” & “Word poetry Is for every man, but soul poetry alas, Is not Heavily distributed” Are the words he tries To live by.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021







presents


THE WORLD PREMIERE OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEATRE INITIATIVE 

 

SOLICITING PROPHECY


AN ARTISTIC RESPONSE TO COVID 19

 

LAUNCHED ONLINE VIA SCAPEGOATCARNIVALE.COM 

FEBRUARY 15, 2020 AT 8PM  

 

WRITTEN BY ALEXIS DIAMOND, MARY JANE GIBSON, GITANJALI JAIN,
JULIE TAMIKO MANNING, ALEXANDER NEMSER, OMARI NEWTON, AND CONOR WYLIE

CONCEPTION AND DRAMATURGY: ALISON DARCY AND JOSEPH SHRAGGE


_____________________________________________

SCAPEGOAT CARNIVALE is proud to present its new international digital commissioning initiative in response to Covid 19, SOLICITING PROPHECY, being launched online February 15, 2021

 

The artists of Soliciting Prophecy. Clockwise from top left, ending in centre: A.Diamond, O.Newton, J.T. Manning, MJ Gibson, Conor Wylie, A. Darcy, J. Shragge, G. Jain, A. Nemser.

Scapegoat Carnivale's current production of Soliciting Prophesy is a magical attempt to bring audiences back to the theatre before theatre doors can open again. Although much closer to video art and animation at times, with successful forays into outdoor solo monologues, and an online intimate and intensely powerful, claustrophobic encounter, this varied collection of short performance pieces provide engaging and thought provoking looks at a variety of ways of perceiving potential doom and destruction.

High points include a conflicted, animated conversation between fraternal twins as they await the end of the world. An animated cityscape through a condo window gradually reveals, through image and dialogue, an oncoming threat to the planet's existence and the very fraught relationship between siblings.

More childlike, magical animation occurs in the underwater drawings that create the beautiful and hauntingly melodic setting and narrative for "Prophette." (see illustration below)

Perhaps the closest example of live theatrical performance comes in the form of a layered and engaging piece from Alexander Nemser as an outdoor setting provides an expansive space for the well managed, subtly acted, and engaging storytelling narrative. 

"Prophette" by Gitanjali Jain 
Lula, a young girl, descended from whales, learns from her ancestors that she must play a role in altering the course of our climate crisis, as well as revive the well-being of whales on the planet. This hand-drawn, ethereal animation features real whale-songs as a central part of the soundtrack.





__________________________________

Faced with the repeated closures of Canadian and American theatres, Scapegoat Carnivale co-artistic directors Alison Darcy and Joseph Shraggesolicited prophetic predictions from fellow artists in Montreal, Vancouver, Mexico City and Los Angeles. This new collaboration evolved into an online think tank/writer’s room with the aim of creating a series of contemporary responses as digital performance pieces on the theme of Prophecy.  
 

After a month of discussions ranging from Greta Thunberg, to treating trauma with psychotropic drugs, to utopian visions, and brushes with mortality, each artist produced a digital work reflecting their own interests and lines of inquiry. 
 

In these videos, which range in form and sensibility, prophets appear as nonhumans, children, botanica workers, non-believers, and stand-up comedians. The pieces include biblical and ancient Greek re-imaginings (Samuel, Kassandra), animation, direct address and Minecraft inspired creations. 

 

SOLICITING PROPHECY SERIES:


Alexis Diamond (Montreal, QC) First Flush of a Gleaming New Age 
In a near post-pandemic future, Myriam follows the signs revealed to her in a dream to fulfill the prophecy of the Great Flush.


Mary Jane Gibson (Los Angeles, CA): Primordial Prophecy
A dying woman seeking to find what awaits her on the other side pulls open an ancient door to another psychedelic dimension.


Gitanjali Jain (Mexico City, MX)Prophette
Lula, a young girl, descended from whales, learns from her ancestors that she must play a role in altering the course of our climate crisis, as well as revive the well-being of whales on the planet. This hand-drawn, ethereal animation features real whale-songs as a central part of the soundtrack.


Julie Tamiko Manning (Montreal, QC)Whoever put me up here, you just wait ‘til I get down!
A woman gets off of her pedestal.


Alexander Nemser (Los Angeles, CA) God's Eyebrows
A retelling of the Bible story of King Saul and the Witch of Endor. Picture Larry David as a Trumpian King Lear who visits an illegal healer on the eve of his unraveling.


Omari Newton (Vancouver, BC): You Know, You're Right...
On the last day on earth, fraternal twins debate what awaits them on 'the Other Side'. The tension between the diametrically opposed lifestyles of these loving, but divided siblings, and how they choose to spend their last living moments, makes for an evening fraught with anxiety. 


Conor Wylie (Vancouver, BC): Dimension in the Clouds
The planets align, the bridge appears, and a brave child steps across to tell us what’s on the other side. Created and animated by a kid and a kid-at-heart.


The ancillary project Pocket Prophecies will feature short text prophecies, ruminations, and anecdotes, by writers from here and abroad including Claire Jenkins (Melbourne, AUS), Michael Mackenzie (Montreal, QC), Thami aka Mbongo (Johannesburg, SA), Earl Mentor (Cape Town, SA), Johanna Nutter (Montreal, QC), Rebecca Singh (Toronto, ON) and Anders Yates (Toronto, ON).




After two years of winning the Montreal META award for Best Independent Production (Sapientia 2018, Yev 2019) Scapegoat Carnivale was described by Montreal Gazette theatre critic Jim Burke as, “one of Montreal’s most original and enjoyably eccentric companies.” Founded in 2006, Scapegoat’s mandate is to produce theatre reflecting the diverse talents and extraordinary creativity of the Montreal artistic community. Their aesthetic interest is in the carnivalesque, and the highly theatrical. Whether producing new works or adaptations from the classical repertoire, they strive for theatre to be an unruly, visceral and authentic shared experience.


Sunday, February 7, 2021

ORESTES 



 playwright’s note

I demand so much of my screen. Sex, news, love, conversation, shopping. I’m addicted to my phone. And through the attention I lavish on it, a new someone emerges online, at least as real as the embodied me. Me and not me. A kind of ghost that shadows me, demands things of me, even on the bus or in the grocery store. I/not I takes form in the still-forming space of online, a space of whispers and shouts, intimate and vast at the same time. A spiritual space.

In the original Orestes, there is a presence that stalks the shadows and emerges as Apollo at the end. Some demonic, god-like hybrid. I feel the same way about the internet. The perfect place for Greek tragedy.


The rules kept changing as we put this together. I am so grateful that I got to gather (virtually) with the talented people who made this show. Working without any sort of net. None of us knew what we were saying “yes” to. When COVID took our spaces away, we made a space in here.


Rick Roberts - Jan 2021


Powered by LIVELAB, the Tarragon online production of Orestes, adapted by Rick Roberts, is a vastly entertaining, engaging, and terrifying exercise in just about everything we are surrounded by in this day and age. A day and age apparently not so unlike so many bygone days and ages, as old as Greek tragedy and as debauched and humorous as Greek comedy. 


A stellar cast take the stage, or rather, their very separate performing spaces transmitted through cyberspace, and they manage to pull of  an amazing array of emotion and interaction over the course of a ninety minute tale of sex, lies, and messy dates with hubris, material wealth, and looking good in a bad situation.


Early on lists of high end products from clothing to everything capitliast, excessive, commodified and vainglorious, peppers the speeches of various characters - within which Roberts finds a rhythmic admixture of poetic and daily usage dialogue that never ceases to impress throughout. 


When lengthy monologues move toward a booming finale, in the hands of actors as adept as David Fox, Cliff Cardinal, and Richard Clarkin, Robert’s reaches a peak of playwriting skill that sharply reveals a cultural awareness allowing opposing viewpoints to possess equal weight. These hefty and convincing speeches live within a complex and corrupted world where inter-generational warfare has the aged blaming youth for their millennial traits and youth blaming the aged for carelessly abusing a planet and its inhabitants within a bludgeoned environment where constant, ever-increasing fear is the only emotion available. Thus a dramaturgical online sensibility that speaks of everything and nothing in a single breath. Notihng coming of nothing in the midst of it all. Lear-like, apocalyptic, and wildly entertaining.


The entire ensemble excels, with Lisa Ryder as a glamorous somewhat bewildered Helen and Krystin Pellerin as a more ‘down to earth’ yet equally intense and captivating Electra. Cues are picked up seamlessly in this distanced theatre setting, creating an action-packed, breakneck tale. What could have been static boxes of histrionic self-satisfaction becomes a textured array of ensemble acting - supported beautifully by costume, sound, and set designers working within a whole new realm of theatre expertise and innovation.


Cliff Cardinal in the tile role creates a youthful, manic flow as his speech patterns sound alarmingly and appropriately like someone speaking in their influencer, branding, online dialect. His captivity is well caught in a simultaneously open yet claustrophobic 'cell' that ultimately becomes a screen for faces watching him - giving the production a high tech feel that could easily work onstage. Not so unlike techniques used by artists such as Robert Lepage, among others, this production holds the promise of a lush form of online theatre that borrows and utiliizes techniques we were already beginning to see in live theatre in recent decades. A live version with onstage actors in front of screens would create another layer of this already multi-layered yet, by necessity, one dimensional viewing space. Finding depth in a single dimension, director Richard Rose has orchestrated a rich array of sight and sound.

A highlight  of the show is a speech near the end where theatre veteran David Fox displays his typically eloquent and impeccable way of delivering a moving monologue, not so unlike the Lear he mastered at Theatre Passe Muraille not so long ago. An angry older despot making strong, seemingly articulate points through a textured yet narrow misidentifying gaze where he sees all the faults of one generation and misses the faults of his own, only to be lambasted by the impetuous yet spot-on declaration of the young, angry, and equally as articulate Orestes.


Orestes, a tale for the ages, and the extremely altered stages of current theatre - is well worth seeing for the sheer skill of a production team that confronts the challenges of being 'live' in a pandemic and succeeding with immense power and the flawed tragic grace of characters more than half in love with themselves.



ORESTES by Rick Roberts (Tarragon). Live-streaming at tarragon.com through February 14, Wednesday-Saturday 8 pm, Wednesday 10 am, Thursday 1:30 pm, Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$20. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

review of Steve Keil's 'Vanishing Fair'

 



"a collection of ruminations on the ruins of the last year and a half, so you can imagine how cheery it is. If misery loves company, you've come to the right place."

- Steve Keil on his eighth collection of poetry 'Vanishing Fair'


________________________________________________________


the binomial observer   


a review of Steve Keil’s Vanishing Fair

 

Steve Keil’s recent book of poetry, Vanishing Fair, is a bold and unwavering examination of self doubt, self-critique, and an ever-observant eye for the quotidian effect of simultaneously subtle yet searing annoyance - annoyance emanating from the minds and mouths of what Keil somewhat bitterly describes in an early poem as “human interaction." 

            I use the word quotidian in order to - perhaps pompously - blithely draw attention to the infrequent yet remarkable peppering of a not so everyday word, among others, scattered throughout the 148 page collection.  As seen, early on in A home that’s far from it - the poem sets the tone for a stark commingling of longing for and dismissal of the domestic trappings of fulsome relationships within a queer context. Line seven sports the lilting rhythms of the word binomial, a startlingly satisfying collection of syllables that marks the poem with a fine conscious rhythm.

Todd Haynes would have a field day  / In this multi-acred plot / Of suburban New Jersey / Where countless down low lovers / Are looking to be experienced / Ive already had too many to count / Knocking on my binomial door / But, Im sorry / With all respect / I am not here to teach / Remedial homosexuality / I have more than enough problems / At hand / Without courting new ones / That could end in vengeance / Or a rope around the neck / So, I will let that parade /Pass me by /Along with all the others / Content to be on the side / For now / And take a much-needed respite / From human / If thats what you want to call it / Interaction 

A home thats far from it, p5

“Remedial homosexuality” follows “binomial’ a few lines later, comically intimating a kind of sexualized distribution with two possible outcomes (thus binomial), lending the poem a fine sense of the clinical, frequently impersonal, ways in which actual emotion attempts to insert itself,  at times awkwardly, into our lives - casually, carnally, and maddeningly comic. The prefix bi, as part of a relatively uncommon word, allows for the hint of unnamed titillation, infusing the poem with the mystery of language, emotion, and sexuality that Keil interrogates throughout. 

            Binomial appears again on page 14 in the title of an equally satisfying and sexually discontented poem through the use of a finely tuned title that casts off intimate physicality in search of a warmer connection - reprising the idea of human interaction that occurs in the first ‘binomial’ poem. The following section displays the mixture of emotional longing and considered dismissal that lingers throughout the pages of Vanishing Fair.

So many lead with their jawline / Instead of their heart / And thats the part / That leaves me instantly cold / A connection thats dismantled / Before it begins Because what I need most / Right now /Or anytime for that matter / Is true human interaction / With complexities that come from / The conditions of living

Binomial freeze out, p14

            These human/domestic trappings - these “conditions of living” - set in a home that is far from one near the beginning of the collection - are revisited in a decidedly more biting way in the wonderfully dry, acerbic observational poem Stretching the canvas for more space -

Hey, the new issue of / Southern Living is in / There’s a sentence I never thought I'd say / Mostly because I have never heard / Of the magazine before / But since I am in a current phase / Of reading what I ordinarily wouldnt / And realizing that the Sunday New York Times / Was too much of a time hoover / To leave room for anything else / I picked up this magazine from the periodical shelf And dove in / It did have Octavia Spencer on the cover / Which was a good sign / But I dont know if it was by accident / Or editorial design / That the first photo inside / Was one of a pie /Apple, I'm assuming / Without any other ingredients included / I zipped through the articles about / Throw pillows and Japanese maples / All pleasing enough in their scope / Only a clutched paw of more bits of string / To add to my ever-growing sphere / Which may or may not serve any value / In the W.H. Auden sense / Or inspire something of limited or lesser value / On my own 

Stretching the canvas for more space, p39

There is a pleasing anti-bourgeois derision for the Martha Stewart-like list of throw pillows, Japanese maples, and apple pies, followed by the quick-witted unspecified insertion of Auden’s subtly queer sensibility - giving the finale of the poem a perhaps inadvertent query that challenges the the reader to reconsider and reexamine the images and texts we come across on a daily basis. Images and texts that, in this poem, are found on the periodicals shelf in, presumably, a library.

            Keil’s work, in Vanishing Fair, could be considered a library of complaints - or as he so aptly puts it in the poem Next stop, strong drink - his “angry dispatches.’

Yet, there I was in my shorts and bowling shirt / Reading my angry dispatches to a crowd of / Mostly unknowns to me / Who Sally Fielded me when it was over / Then paid me the pass the bucket pay share of Forty-six dollars / All of a sudden, I thought / This might turn out to be something / I guess people are so starved for live performances / Of any kind / That even I will do 

excerpt - Next stop, strong drink, p131 

But these are not merely angry dispatches. They are a continuous narrative, story like, of one poet’s journey through self interrogation and discontentment in a world that serves up plenty on a daily basis. Seeing Keil perform his work live this past summer on an outdoor patio at Buddies In Batshit Times (my typo, not Buddies, rather, the times) Theatre served up a fine sense of performance that matches the acerbic and “angry dispatches” his current collection embodies on the page. One might consider these dispatches sly joyful moments of friendship and sharing, a somewhat begrudgingly accepted joy, but a kind of joy nonetheless, a joy found in poetry, both ‘onstage’ and off. Replete with “Sally Fielded”  moments - a fine and funny turn of phrase -  and a brief Norman Maine citing, Keil’s image/word choice also roots his artistry within a decidedly, yet subtle, sense of queer consideration as it intertwines with light pop cinematic camp. 

            Ultimately Vanishing Fair is a rigorous, frank, and absorbing journey through self critiques and the critiques of others - critiques so many of us simply bury in our consciousness and let them sour in our souls. Keil lets them out and they become a subtly soul -searching narrative romp, allowing readers to revel in his angry dispatches as though they were our own.

            And there is of course my favourite moment, a familiarizing moment regarding shared accommodation, when a room mate pleads, through alleged hard times, for another month of tenancy when the poet decides to move out following an especially annoying argument. And then one discovers the financial hardship, only days later, does not disallow the acquisition of  “The big screen tv he just purchased / With my rent money / I didnt say anything I was thinking / I didnt follow any of my natural impulses / I only went into my room / Kept my mouth shut / And cried myself to sleep / Begging for help / Silently /With each hyperventilated breath 

(excerpt) The end of all optimism, p17

            Vanishing Fair is saturated with “natural impulses” - and not the end of all optimism by any means. Rather, a well-endowed series of poems, at times funny, frequently enlightening, and always dispatching - in measured, direct, and frankly poetic language - an articulate journey through someone’s way of grappling with some of life’s most irritating moments.


Vanishing Fair is available at

https://www.amazon.ca/-/fr/Steve-Keil/dp/B08P852236