Dead Poets Reading Series resumes!

After a two year hiatus, the Dead Poets Reading Series has come back to life! Four members of the organizing committee kicked off the year with a reading at Massy Arts that featured presentations on Etel Adnan (1925 to 2021), Don Domanski (1950 -2020), Steven Heighton (1961 – 2022) and Phyllis Webb (1927-2021).

We had a full house of 50 attentive attendees who registered for the free public event. In the audience were poetry lovers of all ages, including past organizers Rob Taylor (and family) and Christopher Levenson. Massy Arts community engagement coordinator, Romila Barryman provided a wonderful land acknowledgement at the commencement of the event.

How did the series begin? North Vancouver poet and professor, David Zieroth initiated the series in 2007 as “The Night of the Dead Poets” at the former Upstart Crow Books on Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver. (I participated at the inaugural reading, presenting poems by Bronwen Wallace, alongside fellow readers David, Russell Thorton, Cathy Stonehouse and Harvey de Roo.)

If you look at DPRS’ history of past readings, you’ll see the enormous range of diverse poets that have heen covered since 2007, from antiquity to the recent past, from countries and cultures all over the world! Do check out the full origin story of the series on the Dead Poets Reading Series site.

Other notable poets in the local community have been on the organizing committee over the years including Christopher Levenson, Rob Taylor, Diane Tucker, Sandy Shreve, Kate Braid, Joanne Arnott, Jane Munro, Raoul Fernandes, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Kevin Spenst and Isabella Wang. A huge, long-time fan of the series, I recently joined the organizing committee this past December. The venues for the series have also shifted from North Vancouver (Upstart Crow Books, The Contemporary Art Cafe) to downtown Vancouver (Project Space in Strathcona, the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library).

Massy Arts, the current venue for the bimonthly series, is located at 23 East Pender in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood. Not to be confused with Massy Bookstore on the east side of Main Street, Massy Arts is located in the former Ming Wo Hardware building opposite the Chinese Cultural Center and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens.

This heritage building was built in 1913 by one of the first known Chinese Canadian architects, W. H. Chow, in the characteristic “Chinatown architectural style,” featuring four stories, a recessed balcony, and metal cornice. Ming Wo Hardware, one of the longest operating local businesses in Chinatown, had a store here from 1917 until 2020. (Ming Wo Hardware still exists, with stores elsewhere in the city.)

Please mark your calendars: the next reading will be on Sunday, March 12, 3-5 pm with future readings currently scheduled for May 14, July 9, September 10 and November 19th). You can register to attend for free through Massy Art’s EventBrite listings.) Check the Dead Poets Reading Series website for more information about upcoming readings!