Friday, January 27, 2012, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Room 418, City Centre branch, Surrey Public Library
The second gathering of Surrey Muse began with the evening’s Featured Author, Margo Bates. Margo read from her 2006 debut novel P.S. Don’t Tell Your Mother that, through an often amusing exchange of letters, tells the story of the 13 year old Maggie Mulvaney and her feisty always-ready-to-damn-the-neighbourhood-Jehovah’s-witness Nanna in a northern British Columbia town. Margo also read briefly from the opening of her forthcoming novel, ‘The Funeral Follower’, that locates Maggie in the present day amidst the growing number of funerals among Terrace’s baby boomers. Margo shared with us how she blends facts with fiction in her novels and how northern B.C. produces a distinctive literature through its history of communities of pioneers and through its sense of community of First Nations background.
During the first break, Ashok Bhargava was on hand to sign his books of poetry, Skipping Stones, Mirror of Dreams and Lost In The Morning Calm.
The evening’s Featured Poet Timothy Shay then took the stage, reading a number of intensely felt and powerfully rendered poems, including one reflecting on the suicide of his younger brother. In another, Timothy recalls how he had to pledge allegiance to a flag for the first time when he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in his childhood. Asking what a flag represents, Timothy gave us images of bombs and devastation in Vietnam along with suggestions of other countries made to bow to the might of a superpower. Along with one of his darker elegies from The Dirty Knees of Prayer, Timothy closed with a piece on the beauty of Nelson and its surroundings.
Next, Featured Filmmaker Alison Richards, through a Power Point presentation, presented us with an overview of the process of producing a film or documentary, how she established an international chapter of Women in Film & Television in Dubai, and to the world of transmedia storytelling and her forthcoming projects such as Lions, Tigers and Bears shot in South Africa. Alison gave us an idea of the themes she explored through documentaries such as F-Stops and Every 15 Minutes and her feature film Bare Knuckles, all of which look at people communities living ‘on the fringe’ or adopting unconventional lifestyles. Bare Knuckles, for instance is the story of a single mother who takes to the underground world of all-female bare knuckle fighting so she can provide for her daughter.
After the second break, the gathering started its open microphone session. The first reader, Valerie B. Taylor, read from her unpublished novel entitled ‘Summer of Love’. Fauzia Mannan followed reading from a letter in Urdu which was written by Mother Earth to Humanity about how it must become aware of the cost of progress before it is too late. Jason Sunder read several poems, lending the evening a humorous touch with a poem on words realtors would and would not use in marketing properties for sale. And a musical rendering of poetry came through Helga Parekh who sang her poem to the 1-2-3 waltz cadence. Lastly, Kusum read two couplets in Hindi/Urdu, one by a friend, and her own, both on the importance of eradicating hatred and suspicion between peoples and uniting through love.
The gathering was filled with interesting questions, and on behalf of Surrey Muse, I thank everyone for their generous donations and for their presence, interest and participation.
Randeep Purewall, Host