‘EVENT’ hosts successful reading at Aboriginal Gathering Place
By Rebecca Peterson, Humour Editor
On October 27, EVENT magazine hosted a reading and author meet and greet with four prominent indigenous writers in the Douglas College Aboriginal Gathering Place.
The evening started with an opening address by Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator Dave Seaweed. During this address, Seaweed explained the significance of the gathering place as well as the art installations within it, including the four-metre Coast Salish welcoming figure at the back of the room by artist Susan Point.
EVENT editor Shashi Bhat then took the mic to welcome the first featured author, Jónína Kirton, an award-winning poet of Métis and Icelandic heritage. Kirton explained that the inspiration for much of her poetry is drawn from her life experiences, and her attempts to connect to the spirit of her ancestry. The pieces ranged from narrative accounts of her life as a young adult in the prairies struggling to find her place in the world, to more figurative examinations of her cultural heritage and family dynamics. Many of the pieces she read were from her first book, page as bone ~ ink as blood, but she also shared a few works from her next collection of poetry, set for release in Spring 2017 by Talonbooks.
Next was Cree-Métis/Icelandic author Carleigh Baker, a writer of short fiction and nonfiction as well as poetry. Baker was late in discovering her Aboriginal ancestry, only meeting her Métis family when she was 30, and much of her work explores this revelation as well as intimately recounts certain moments in her life. She read her short story “Chins and Elbows” to the audience, demonstrating her frank and humorous narrative style, and then read a few poems written during a perilous expedition up north with a team of writers and documentary filmmakers. Baker also has a book set for release in Spring 2017, a collection of short stories titled Bad Endings.
After a brief intermission, Cree author and UBC Creative Writing Program graduate Larry Nicholson took the stage. His poetry was often an all-out celebration of his Aboriginal heritage and his life growing up on a reservation. The audience was included in his performance of his poem “Big Brown Beautiful Bannock-Stuffed Indians,” a call and response piece that filled the Gathering Place with sound. His poems ranged from boisterous and lyrical, to individually contemplative.
Finally, EVENT Poetry Editor and accomplished author Joanne Arnott read from her newest book, Halfling spring: an internet romance. The poems were intimate pieces of personal narrative, ranging from prolific and almost ethereal to short and tongue-in-cheek, many of them expounding upon her relationship with a man she met online, as well as her love of the Canadian landscape. It was a gentle end to a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
EVENT magazine publishes works by Canadian authors three times a year, and often holds contests for burgeoning writers. For more information, visit www.eventmagazine.ca.