Dark Sounds: Poetry+FlamencoLa Palabra en el Tiempo
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ft. Jan Zwicky, Denise Yeo, and Gareth Owen
produced by Garth Martens
Dark Sounds features one of the best poets writing in English today alongside two of Canada’s top flamenco artists. Poet and philosopher Jan Zwicky will perform recent work in collaboration with dancer Denise Yeo and guitarist Gareth Owen, members of the literary flamenco group Palabra Flamenco. This will be followed by an on-stage conversation moderated by local poet and flamenco aficionado Garth Martens. As a musician and a thinker on the subject of music, Zwicky has a formidable perspective from which to exchange ideas with artists across all genres.
In Thirty-Seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences, Zwicky writes within the tradition of Federico Garcia Lorca’s flamenco songs. The songs in this collection are odes, addresses and apostrophes, to household fixtures, human emotions, shades of light, seasons, stretches of land, departures, sounds and solitude. Working with the most associative details, Zwicky has whittled encounters with her subjects down to their integral and resounding notes. Every presence contains absence, every pause embodies continuation, every house has “one chink open to the wind.”
The 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize jury described the poems in Forge as “an extended set of variations on the theme of listening”, noting that the “risky” issues of love and death take central place in the collection. “The payoff is real and extraordinary,” the judges continue. “Her unashamedly lyric verse always feels earned by, and earthed in, lived experience: whether of grief or companionship, those great conditions, or, repeatedly, of a watery world.” A world, that is, both exquisitely beautiful and ceaselessly changing: brilliant, flashing, and falling away.
In The Long Walk, Jan Zwicky takes up the mutability of the world as her central theme, bearing witness to environmental and cultural cataclysm. Both prophetic and acutely personal, these poems extend her previous meditations on colonial barbarism and ecocide, on spiritual catastrophe and transformation. With extraordinary reach and density, these poems penetrate the steepest darknesses also found in flamenco. What exactly is flamenco about them? These are poems about endings, small deaths and large ones, disappearances we are witness to, no third-act miracle to save us. As with flamenco, there are ugly faces here and challenging emotions: anger, despair, accusation, personal culpability. Also, love, for what’s going. Like flamenco, these poems discern what is true and uncomfortable, hard to bear. There is dissent here with no hope of rescue, a grief song for the world that honours what we’ve lost, what we’re going to lose. And, as with flamenco, we are asked to listen, our entire being to listen, before we improvise.
ARTISTS, PERFORMERS, & INTERVIEWER
Jan Zwicky has published more than a dozen books of poetry and prose including Wittgenstein Elegies, Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, Forge, Wisdom & Metaphor, Lyric Philosophy, and Alkibiades’ Love. For her poetry, Zwicky is the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and the Dorothy Livesay Prize, and a shortlisted nominee for the Griffin Poetry Prize. She is also a violinist, with a strong interest in baroque performance practice. With a reputation as one of Canada’s most innovative thinkers, she lectures frequently in Europe and North America, and publishes widely as an essayist on issues in music, poetry, philosophy, and the environment. Originally from the prairies, Zwicky now lives on Quadra Island.
Denise Yeo is a flamenco dancer and palmera out of the Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company & School. She is the artistic director and dance soloist for Palabra Flamenco, a literary flamenco ensemble. As a soloist, she also performs in tablaos across Vancouver Island, and in Vancouver and Toronto. She has performed as a dance corps member in two major productions, Recuerdos and Pasajes. As a palmera, she has performed with guitarist Gareth Owen in solo concerts, a recorded album, and special collaborations. She was also a palmera for Kasandra Flamenco’s production, Encuentros.
Gareth Owen has recorded two albums, Gareth Owen Flamenco Guitar and El Cobre, with a third album forthcoming. Solo concerts include those at the Calgary International Flamenco Festival, the Alix Goolden Hall and St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, and concerts presented by the Arts Council of Haida Gwaii. Tablao performances include El Laga in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, and others across Canada. He has been a guest artist in the Toronto International Flamenco Festival, Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, Dawson City Music Festival, Victoria Flamenco Festival, and in large-scale productions such as Encuentros and Café de Chinitas in Vancouver, and Recuerdos and Pasajes in Victoria. He is also a member of Palabra Flamenco, a literary flamenco ensemble.
Garth Martens’ first collection of poetry is Prologue for the Age of Consequence with House of Anansi. He was a recipient of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and a Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. His chapbook Remediation appeared in 2018 with JackPine Press. He is a student of flamenco through Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company & School, where he was libretist for their major production Pasajes. He is a member of Palabra Flamenco, a literary flamenco ensemble.
Intrepid Theatre Club
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Victoria, BC V8W 2J5
Phone: (250) 383-2663