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  • Dan Duguay

C-town has Poets Who Are Helping to Grow Its.

Poets in Calgary

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what was seen during a moment.

-Carl Sandburg

On a recent trip to the bookstore, my 12 year old daughter purchased a book of poetry written by Rupi Kaur. She tells me this Toronto author is all the rage. Poetry is coming into fashion for the first time in decades.

It caused me to reflect on the poets we've had as guests on The WhoKnows Variety Show. At our inaugural show, we had the poetry of Kirk Miles, with his group Midnight Yoga for Alcoholics (aka: MIA). Since then, we've been fortunate to have the artistic director of Calgary's Spoken Word Festival, Sherri-D Wilson as well as Calgary's Poet Laureate Micheline Maylor.

As a songwriter, I consider myself to have some poetry running through my blood. I've been writing prose and poems since my teenage years. Being host to a variety show has given me more opportunity to listen to professionals recite their work. I'm amazed to hear these artists weave their magic with words. The way they write, the way they recite.

My friendship with Kirk Miles is one of my longest since moving to Calgary. We have worked together many times. Kirk is a man of many talents. One of his talents is clowning, which is how we met. His alter ego is Hamlet the Clown. I met Hamlet in the 90's, performing at the Prince George Children's Festival. Since then, we have been a part of many festivals together. It was Kirk who opened my mind to what "serious poetry" was. He's had several books of poetry published. I think I've bought all of them. What got me hooked was a series called "Clown Poems". Probably living in the "performer's world" gave me a special appreciation for these particular poems. For the past 20 years or so, Kirk has been inviting poets and want-to-be poets down to the Ship & Anchor Pub on Monday nights for an informal evening of drink and poetry. If you go, you will find a group sitting at a table in the corner, sharing poems they've written or discovered. On top of that, Kirk is the president of the poetry organization Single Onion.

Having Sherri-D and Micheline Maylor on the show to read some of their pieces, opened my eyes even more to what great poets Calgary has. They are both so talented in their own right. I have much appreciation and respect for what they do. They were both so kind with their time and the audiences loved them. Sherri-D's poem about a walk through the forest is still ringing in my ears.

Recently, another dear friend of mine, Calgarian Richard Harrison was nominated for a Governor General's Award for his book of poetry called "On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood".

We haven't had him as a guest (yet), but he has been a supporter of the show since its inception. I love to see him in the audience. When Micheline Maylor was on last month, she described Richard as one of her mentors. Richard teaches a poetry class on Thursday nights.

Through the ups and downs, Kirk Miles, Sherri-D Wilson, Micheline Maylor and Richard Harrison along with a few others, have been carrying the poetic torch in Calgary. Even when it wasn't in fashion! I am happy The WhoKnows Variety Show gives poets another platform to share their talents.

With her new found love of poetry, perhaps my daughter will come to the show. It's an all-ages event, don't you know!

The next WhoKnows Variety Show will be on October 24th 2017 at 7:30PM at The Ironwood Stage & Grill.

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