Two recent local events made me ponder the important symbiosis between writers and poets who read out loud and their audiences. The first was an evening of readings at the Yellow Door in downtown Montreal where a number of talented novelists and poets read selections of their work to a crowd of people visibly riveted to their seats. The second was a series of readings at the Greenwood Centre for Living History’s StoryFest where luminaries such as Michael Ondaatje, Helen Humphreys, Michael Crummey and Emma Donoghue read to, and fielded questions from, audiences who had relished their books and were interested in learning the genesis of their creativity. On each of these occasions the shared experience appeared to have energised both artist and audience; the two having worked together to create meaning. The author tells his story and the listener views that same work through the lens of his own experience, perhaps creating an altogether different story in their own mind from the same material.
This relationship between writer and reader-listener was inconceivable in the Middle Ages when the monks in the scriptorium could either read or write but seldom do both. The writers would spend hours ornately copying script which totally eluded meaning apart from the shapes and elaborate decoration of symbols. The readers, never having developed the habit of reading as a silent occupation, would read out loud, but only to themselves, carefully forming and enunciating each word. Moreover, only a privileged few others actually had access to the printed work.
Plans are presently in the works at sunday@6 to get a number of our published writers and poets together for an evening of readings out-loud in March to add this other dimension to the mag. We’ll post the time and venue on a variety of social media as soon as plans are concretised.
In the featured writers section of this issue of sunday@6 we present works of short fiction by multi-talented local writer, performer and CBC personality, Lorne Elliott, and journalist, newspaper editor, poet and writer of short fiction, Terry O’Shaunessy. On the featured poet’s page you can read poetry editor, Sandra Stephenson’s, fine introduction to our two Montreal featured poets, Julie Mahfood and Jeffrey Mackie.