It is April. There are still patches of snow in sight, but the warmth of the sun is bliss. It feels like spring is finally here. And what a perfect time to be inspired by new writers, new writing, and new venues for literary happenings, and to compile a spring roundup of literary events.
The events I’ve selected are mostly in Montreal, and since I’m sure more events will be announced after I’ve written this, do check back on Where Poets Read, along with other places with literary events posted — such as QWF and La Poésie Partout — for the latest news. In fact, April has already welcomed a celebration at Afromusée for Linda Leith Publishing’s relaunch of Mairuth Sarsfield’s 1993 novel No Crystal Stair, plus the launch of the online magazine, Font. Online, the League of Canadian Poets hosted a reading by new members in Quebec. Among those readers, Montreal-based poet David Bradford heard the news this month that he has made the Canadian shortlist for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize! And yesterday was Poem in Your Pocket Day/ La Journée du poème à porter! What a start to poetry month. Now, let’s take a look at where readings will be popping up around town, like green buds bursting through the damp earth after a long winter…
SAVE THE DATES
April 22 5 pm (online)
fluid vessels presents an online reading with Medrie Purdham, Michael Trussler, and Liz Howard. This reading is part of an online reading series presented by the Montreal International Poetry Prize (deadline to enter: May 15) and with more information on all the readings here. Plus, Liz Howard has just been shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize – an online reading not to miss!
Event poster for Fluid Vessels, with Medrie Purdham, Michael Trussler, and Liz Howard.
April 23, 8pm at Mainline Theatre
The Words & Music Show is back in person, with performances by Sam Shalabi, Nisha Coleman, John Arthur Sweet, Dark Sky Preserve (Louise Campbell, Ian Ferrier), and Alasdair Rees. Tickets $10.
At the end of the month, Blue Metropolis Literary Festival gets underway, first online and then in person. Do check out the full program, but here are a few events worth highlighting:
May 6, 9:30 pm at Hotel 10 (Blue Met)
ORAL/TRANS/MISSIONS | A performance retrospective by Clifton Joseph (yes, hear the legendary Clifton Joseph live in Montreal!). A night not to be missed, this event will be hosted by Atwater Poetry Project curator Faith Paré and co-sponsored by SpokenWeb.
Image from the event description of ORAL/TRANS/MISSIONS.
May 6, 11 am at Hotel 10 (Blue Met)
As part of the Blue Metropolis Professional Space and presented by the Association of English-Language Publishers of Quebec, check out Reimagining Book Promotion for a New Era, with Ryan B. Patrick (CBC), Sruti Islam (Weird Era), Gregory McCormick (Writers off the Page), Aude Le Dubé (De Stiil), and moderated by Chris DiRaddo. Tickets $7.
May 8, 10 am at Hotel 10 (Blue Met)
Weird Age, Imminent Selves | Consciences neuves pour vies chamboulées, with Tawhida Tanya Evanson, Caroline Dawson and Elkahna Talbi (English and French).
May 8, 2:30 pm at McCord Museum (Blue Met)
Right on Time: Queer Eras, Queer Writing, with Olivia Tapiero, Helen Chau Bradley, Christopher DiRaddo and Tomson Highway for a conversation around what writing while queer has been, is, and could be moving forward. Tickets $7.
May 8, 3 pm at Hotel 10 (Blue Met)
sounding undernames: a reading, with Faith Paré, Carlos A. Pittella and Klara du Plessis, and moderated by me, Katherine McLeod. Yes,I am biased in recommending this one, but it will be on the terrasse of Hotel 10. A reading on a terrasse — I’ve been looking forward to this all winter!
Interested in literary walking tours? Check out the tours offered throughout the festival.
ON THE ROAD
Montrealers Kaie Kellough, Martha Wainwright, Kim Thúy, and Aimee Wall will be in Moncton, New Brunswick, reading at the Frye Festival in late April.
In mid-May, academics and poets will be flocking to Montreal for the ACCUTE (Association for Canadian College and University Teachers of English) conference. Keep an eye out for readings or performances popping up that week, or if you feel like registering for the conference itself, there is a lot to check out!
WHERE ARE POETS READING?
When I saw a poster for a reading on May 12 at 8:30pm with Kasia Van Schaik and Aaron Kreuter at Bar Notre Dame Des Quilles, I thought: I don’t know if I’ve heard of a reading there, but what a great place to host one. (Have you been to Bar NDQ? It’s the bar with fabulous music and bowling lanes where you reset your own pins, plus it’s across the street from Pizza Bouquet.) That got me thinking: we, as a city, are in yet another stage of re-opening and re-emerging this spring — what venues have been born over the winter, or are ready to be reborn?
Oana Avasilichioaei at Resonance Reading Series at the Resonance Cafe. (Photo: Katherine McLeod)
During the pandemic, we said goodbye to classic literary venues such as La Vitrola and Resonance Café (which had been home to the Resonance Reading Series). And yet both of these venues have been reborn, as La Casona and Kawalees respectively.
Venues living on and ready for poetry are places like Dépanneur Café (plus their L’Annexe Dépanneur Café), Brasserie Beaubien, Mainline Theatre, Bar Le Ritz PDB, Théâtre St-Catherine, La Petite Marche, and La Sala Rossa.
At Concordia, 4th SPACE has been hosting quite a few hybrid literary events in collaboration with Writers Read and more.
But where else can poets read?
Where else can we read? The park! Did you ever notice that many parks in Montreal have mini-amphitheatres? Both Parc Beaubien and Parc Drolet were locations for lovely readings last summer.
Keep an eye on when Théâtre de Verdure finishes its renovations in Parc La Fontaine.
Want to be inspired by Théâtre de Verdure and L’Entrepot77? Watch Oana Avasilichioaei‘s video, Tracking Animal, recorded alone in these spaces in 2020. Which brings me to one more outdoor venue…
L’Entrepôt77 — last summer, so many impromptu arts performances happened here, and their popularity has made it so that there is now a way to reserve the space. Get in touch with the organizers for more! (Or hold a reading under the trees in the park across the street from it.)
Where poets read in the city of Montreal is always changing. Share where you think poets are, or should be, reading by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org — and I’ll share your suggestions — or get in touch with AELAQ on social media.
Where Poets Read is Katherine McLeod. She started Where Poets Read in 2016 when she was compiling lists of readings for her poetry students at Concordia, and realized that her lists were a valuable resource for those wanting to seek out where poets are reading. Since then, she has kept updating the lists as a form of sharing, archiving, and community-building. As an academic researching recordings of poetry readings, the producer of the literary series ShortCuts on The SpokenWeb Podcast, and a dancer of poems, Katherine has always been interested in the places where live art happens and the stories of those places. Follow her posts here and here.
Illustration by Todd Stewart