22 June 2011

Tour notes...

The SDJ/Mansfield tour has had some great moments, but it hasn't been without its twists. Yesterday, Marko Sijan had to suddenly leave the tour to be with his family in Windsor. This was after a magnificent reading the night before in Toronto, at the Magpie. Marko entirely took on the persona of his character Gunther, beautifully displaying the contradictions of a seemingly intelligent and eloquent racist/misogynist. Particularly chilling were Marko's grins and chuckles at some of the most harrowing moments.

It's been just fantastic to hear him read from his novel, Mongrel. I had hoped for another three excerpts this week during the tour. For now, our thoughts are with him.

Robert Earl Stewart also gave a masterful reading from Campfire Radio Rhapsody. He's quickly hitting his reading stride with this book.

The Toronto stop was the one place that I wasn't launching on this tour: it was strictly a Mansfield Press event. So that meant I got to just sit behind the book table and enjoy, between brief bursts of being host. The Toronto reading also featured guest appearances by Peter Norman and Amy Lavender Harris. Great to hear both of them read again.

Last night brought Bob and I to Kingston, and it was great to go back to the city where I was writer-in-residence last fall. We had a fantastic crowd upstairs at the Grad Club. In a last-minute recruitment, Lachie MacDonald opened the evening with four or five original songs. This guy is such a great storyteller, such a great singer.

Here he is with his band Horses:

After Lachie performed, Jaime Forsythe read from her recent poetry. A quiet and powerful reading. Such strange and beautiful poetry. I can't wait to begin working on her debut with Mansfield Press in 2012!

Again, a great reading by Robert Earl Stewart, who totally commanded the room. And then I read three chapters from SDJ, at least one of which I'd never read aloud before. It was a bit of a sombre reading on my part, but I got an enthusiastic response.

So many great friends in the crowd. And a nice gathering at the Mansion afterwards. I hate to have to leave Kingston right away.

But Bob and I are hitting the road for Montreal in a couple of hours. We'll read tonight at Drawn & Quarterly, joined by poet Priscila Uppal, whose Winter Sport: Poems came out with Mansfield last year. I'm a little anxious about tonight, because Montreal is Marko's town, and Marko won't be there. We'll hope for the best.

And we're thinking of Marko.

Over and out.


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