About the series


In 2014, The Ash Wednesday Poetry Series will examine the line, real or perceived, between the page and the stage, the written and the spoken, and how and where these two worlds collide (and whether or not they are best conceived as two worlds at all).

Taking its cue from Leonard Cohen’s ‘How to speak poetry”, the series will feature the work of 8 poets, and their thoughts to Cohen’s positions on speaking poetry, some of which include:

“Do not act out words. Never act out words”.

 “There is no more stage. There are no more footlights. You are among the people.  Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside”.

“This is an interior landscape. It is inside. It is private. Respect the privacy of the material. These pieces were written in silence. The courage of the play is to speak them”.

“Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list.”

 “Do not work the audience for gasps and sighs. If you are worthy of gasps and sighs it will not be from your appreciation of the event but from theirs. It will be in the statistics and not the trembling of the voice or the cutting of the air with your hands.  It will be in the data and the quiet organization of your presence”.

“Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired.  You look good when you’re tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty”.

For the full text of “How to Speak Poetry” click the following link:     http://acephalous.typepad.com/acephalous/leonard-cohen-how-to-spea.html

To hear Leonard Cohen’s “How to Speak Poetry” click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2XkfBWSmcs

The series will begin on Wednesday January 8, 2014.  Each week,  the series will showcase the work of a poet featured in the series on the chalkboard at Nick’s Coffee Company.   In addition, the “How to Speak Poetry” series blog will include a small interview with each featured poet, as well as a video or soundcloud link of the performance of the poem showcased in the series.   The series will culminate with a reading on the evening of Ash Wednesday – March 5, 2014 – at the Ranelagh Arts Centre.

This series will take the word butterfly and do whatever it wants with it.


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