Thursday, February 28, 2013

End of Month Review #2: February 27 poetry reading by George Elliot Clarke

Last night I went to hear George Elliot Clarke read poetry.

To be honest, I was only mildly interested in going. I'd read Clarke's book, George and Rue, and had loved it. But that was my only experience with his work, so I actually thought I was going to a prose reading.

Clarke opened with a seemingly random speech about how students in Quebec are protesting tuition hikes because they are the last students with any oomph left in them because they have been the least crushed by debt. And they sensibly want to stay that way. From the freedom of the sixties, GEC explained that there has been a concerted effort to use financial burdens to encourage students to toe the line. Clarke called for students and retirees to seize their relative financial freedom and be a force for change in the world.

Though unexpected, this speech set the tone perfectly for an evening of poetry that was revolutionary, joyous, free original and sexy.

Not knowing what to expect, I was quickly lost in Clarke's world of words and his rhythmic, impassioned delivery. By turns scholarly and earthy, and sometimes both together, my brain and libido both got a good workout.

My favorite moment came when a member of the audience asked if GEC had any advice for writers and aspiring writers. "Find your own voice," he replied emphatically. And went on to explain that even when that hurts the writer, or people around the writer, there is only one choice to make about speaking the truth.

Inspiring. Fascinating. Illuminating.

***George Elliott Clarke has written numerous books of poetry. Last night he read from three of those volumes: Red, Blue and Black.***

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