Last Saturday I attended Canteen Gallery’sVisi>Cue-Cue
our semi-literate summer love child exhibit. It features “small prints, paintings, photography, drawings, poetry and other works complicating the life and times of our minds in this our summer of love.” The exhibit runs until August 31 and the gallery is conveniently located in downtown Ottawa at 238 Dalhousie.
I don’t feel up to doing a proper review, as this event was a fairly large collaboration of artists in various mediums. Let me just say that I generally enjoyed the experience and throughout the event I took advantage of the very reasonably priced wine.
My main reason for attending the opening, and the reason for this post, was because Jessica Ruano mentioned on her blog that she (along with others) would be giving a poetry performance as part of the launch. I have been a fan of Jessica Ruano’s poetry for awhile now. Her last performance as the “headliner” for the Voices of Venus series was particularly exceptional and I was eager for more.
While she seemed quite a bit more nervous this time, she once again delivered a solid performance. In fact, she stood out as the highlight of the poetry portion.
Here is why:
Jessica rarely reads her poetry. She performs it. It is quite refreshing to have a poet look the audience directly in the eye as she recites her work. This is in sharp contrast to the majority of the others that evening who stared primarily at the printed page in front of them. The impact of something as simple as regular eye contact and “stage presence” is extraordinary. It creates a feeling of inclusivity, followed by intimacy, and finally community. Despite her obvious nervousness, Jessica firmly had won over the audience because of her presence and delivery.
Jessica did two other things that nurtured a feeling of community that are also
noteworthy. During the event, a few people had gathered outside the gallery obviously curious to see what was going on. By the time Jessica started they had made it as far as the doorway. Jessica welcomed these folks and invited them in. They were a little too shy to take her up on her offer but it was obvious that the genuine offer was appreciated. In fact, they stayed all the way to the end.
Jessica also noticed that one of the poet’s bios wasn’t read so she took it upon herself to introduce this individual before she began her own set. The host herself had missed this oversight and Jessica’s awareness of this error, and action to correct it, demonstrated tremendous solidarity with her fellow performers.
Artistic performances whether they are musical concerts, plays, or poetry are ultimately all about building, nurturing, and growing the community. As you can tell from this post, Jessica does this remarkably well.
I’m really looking forward to her next performance and for those of you in Ottawa, I highly recommend you check Jessica’s poetry out. I’m also hoping she’ll have a recording available for purchase soon. Because her delivery is such a vital part of the overall experience, I don’t feel that the traditional chapbook would do her justice.