The Shaken and the Stirred

books review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Shaken and the Stirred
Published 18 Aug 2016

The death of Tilda Swinton and the love life of John Clare are just a couple of the subjects explored in this engaging evening showcasing contemporary Canadian poets. Rather more established, or perhaps “establishment”, than much of the poetry you’ll see at the Fringe, this series of readings from the Centre for Creative Learning will appeal more to the academic or literary-minded than those seeking laughs and political punch from up-and-coming slam artists.

That these are readings of published, written works as opposed to spoken word performances doesn’t mean they’re uninteresting to watch. Host Ginger Pharand warmly holds the evening together, and poets Jeanette Lynes, Steven Heighton, Catherine Graham and Ian Burgham keep their chosen verses short and sweet, with insightful commentary where necessary on origins, inspirations and meaning.

There’s a broad range of themes and subjects across the four writers’ chosen works, from the violent wonders of the natural world to the loss of childhood innocence via a mashed potato sculpture of a pair of breasts with peas for nipples, and quite a complimentary mish-mash of forms – from Graham’s glosa, which patchworks existing poets’ work with her own, to Lynes’ visual poem, which she explores different ways of presenting in performance.

With the poets choosing different works every evening, this spirited series offers the chance to see and meet some of Canada’s leading artists and academics—and of course, buy their books—in a comfortable, open setting.