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Toronto Hosts Poets Who Dinner

By Harriet Staff


We wish that we could be there! Tonight, Diaspora Dialogues hosts the first of three dinnertime conversations with poets, moderated by Meaghan Strimas. Dinner’s at 6:30 at Grano Restaurant, 2035 Yonge Street, and the $50 admission includes dinner, a book, and a glass of prosecco. Canada’s National Post recently published a wonderful dialogue moderated by the organization’s Artistic Director, Zoe Whittall, in preparation for the dinner event with participating poets Hoa Nguyen, Sara Peters, and Meaghan Strimas.

Diaspora Dialogues is an organization that focuses on the power of art and literature to foster conversations between Toronto’s diverse communities, and the dinner party series shines a spotlight on discussions between some of our city’s most vibrant poets. Artistic Director Zoe Whittall recently interviewed poets Hoa Nguyen, Sara Peters, and Meaghan Strimas about obsession, bickering amongst poets, and who they’d invite to a dinner party.

Q: Which poets would you love to invite to a dinner party?

Hoa Nguyen: I have long wished that I could bring all of my “page mothers” together for a fabulous dinner party — four women poets who have taught and inspired me.

Joanne Kyger: she devoted her life to poetry early on — was part of the Jack Spicer circle in San Francisco and friend of Robert Duncan (among many other poets). Whenever I visit her in Bolinas, she hands me books, conducts us in a collaborative poetry project, talks poetry and plays music; all of this while serving food and wine — all of this as instruction. She taught me the importance of a magical hearth.

Anne Waldman: she inspired me to create my own nexus and my own writing school for poetry. She taught me to be fierce and generous, to stand next to the men in the writing and to take it all on. Recently, when I asked about her IOVUS trilogy, she gave me helpful insight on how she organized her epic using an imago — a visual pattern — and interval returns.

Gloria Frym: my teacher and mentor. She’s devoted to poetry (and is also a writer of prose). She taught me how to edit a poetry journal, great pedagogy for a creative writing workshop and how to be a deep teacher. A student of Creeley’s, she helped me form my poetry lineage.

Alice Notley: long ago I wrote her a letter saying that I was glad be part of her poetry family. She taught me how one might invent measure and use voice; she gave me permission to claim a new language, one that is an embodied female voice. Through her, I understand the importance of dreams and learned ways to steal story back from the novel.

Plus we all love each other. I imagine we’d drink a lot of wine, eat well, laugh, dish and talk about poetry; it would be so grand.

Sara Peters: If I were to make and/or eat a meal with a famous writer I deeply admire, I’d be stumbling and self conscious, and I’d spend more time fretting about the impression I was making than enjoying myself. So I think I’d actually choose to have dinner with my friends Miriam Bird Greenberg and Erica Ehrenberg, both brilliant poets and incredible people.

Meaghan Strimas: Oh, I’d love to sit down with the fabulous Wendy Cope. Her poetry makes me so happy. I’m attracted to people who can make others laugh — even in grim circumstances (such a gift) — and I’d like to imagine that Cope is as funny in person as she is on the page. Light fare and lots of wine, and hopefully lots of laughter…

Read more of Artistic Director Zoe Whittall’s conversation with Hoa Nguyen, Sara Peters, and Meaghan Strimas at National Post.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, September 26th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.