A summer night, where the thunderheads fist-bumped and parted ways, leaving our skies more Prussian blue than ash grey. Mosquitoes too were deported, sent elsewhere to do their whining — we think they all rented tiny jet-skis and rode off across the river.
Friends arrived just as the make-shift stage (soon to be returned to its rightful duty as a dock — rather than doc. — segment) was commissioned into service and we chatted and snacked and popped open bottles and cans and congratulated ourselves on being capable of being in such a place… in space and time, on Earth, today.
The loaner mic in friend & neighbour Jack Schellenberg’s hand-crafted and skookum-engineered mic stand crackled and away we went, led with panache by author Roger Groening. Knuckleball is Roger’s novel. (The author’s legs appear above, royalty-free; they’re the stems to the right.) He read a recent WIP excerpt that had us reaching for our decades-ago-discarded DuMauriers and l-o-l-ing and giggling through his vivid description of a wry woman tasking a man in a room without solutions.
Next came Leslie Wakeman who brought so much: snacks, wine, a beautiful quilt, handmade cards and her story, “The Goddess Cup.” We were gradually drawn in as her character’s embarrassment grew and our appreciation for Leslie’s deft, humourous-and-so-human touch led us along.
And then it was my sister Marnie Fardoe’s turn with a reading of a diary entry she had repurposed for us, for this perfect evening. She called herself a novice but we knew better. In addition, we got the family discount as Marnie gave us a quiet and moving performance of our sister Char Toews’ powerful poem, “Schedules are subject to change without notice”
[...] If the weather's that shitty it's kind of iffy You're better off in the air or on the land Or living or dead, which is what my Dad did And me with a number of things planned Then home in May, cutting the grass that first day Mowing and crying and thinking about worms and their dirt [...] Vid by Bonnie Friesen: https://www.facebook.com/580948274/videos/800154487823298/ .
The perfect lead-in to Wes Friesen and his soulful playing and singing. Two beautiful Leonard Cohen songs following by a fascist-killing presentation of Deportee/Plane Wreck at Los Gatos, by Woody Guthrie.
Vid by Bonnie Friesen: https://www.facebook.com/bonnie.friesen.9/videos/1403462673497989/
More poetry, from Winnipeg poetess Phyllis Cherrett who wowed and dazzled, showing us her calm control over word and emotion, ending with the perfectly-suited dent de lion
I offered a pair of flash fictions, “New War — Old Technology” and “Luck!”, bookending our great friend Christiane Neufeld’s spelky delivery of poet Ceinwen Haydon’s Gooseberry, a repeat-performance from Prosetry 2019.
Two best-selling and truly masterful authors closed out the evening. MaryLou Driedger (Lost on the Prairie) offered us the first chapter of her WIP SEQUEL novel, set in 1936.
Writer, memoirist, author, instructor and warrior-woman Donna Besel did not disappoint, giving us a thematic reading about a boathouse construction job set at nearby Brereton Lake. The story was a piece from her hit collection of short stories, “Lessons from a Nude Man.”
Through all of this, photographer Phil Hossack was doing his quiet and unobtrusive professional best, circulating among us, taking pictures that caught mood and feeling as much as light and dark.
Cheers to local artists Janice Toews, Gale Bonin, and Allison Rink whose brushwork filled the SheShed with brightness and colour.
NEXT YEAR: Book the day, slot it in and make it sacrosanct… we want you here to read and listen, to watch the clouds part, to smell the woodsmoke and taste the wine, to read, to hear and experience. We’ll make it more of an afternoon event — we’ll start at 1 PM and make it possible to leave without rushing before the sun goes down.
For those who stay, maybe we can set the boreal ringing with this unforgettable folksong refrain:
Janice and I reside in the boreal forest just north of the Fiftieth latitude in eastern Manitoba on Treaty 1 and 3 lands. Our property is situated on Métis land: Anishinabe Waki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ http://www.anishinabek.ca/