Poet Gabe Forman entertains with the serious and the silly

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The reading series at St. Jerome’s University kicked off their first event of the term last Friday night, Jan. 24.

Their theme, Literartistry, which is “the dance between literature and the other arts and forms,” was introduced by Prof. Tristanne Connolly, one of the organizers of the series, whose goal is to give guests a chance to truly get to know the “wealth and variety that is Canadian literature today.” 

The star of the night was Gabe Foreman, whose initial grave demeanor was soon betrayed by the sly jokes embedded in the witty lines of his poems. He began with some of his newer poems — some of which he had never read before for an audience. He prefaced some of the poems with a brief explanation on their origins; his inspirations varied from the infrastructure of Montreal to British history, and he also drew from his real life experiences. 

He went on to captivate his audience with his readings of poems from the encyclopedia — each poem was an entry entitled with the type of person Foreman strove to describe. Entries spanned from “Couch Potatoes” to “Optimists,” “Ghouls” to “Jurors,” “The Lovesick” to “Tough Cookies.” Finally, the last poem in the book — “Last Words,” was an alphabetical list of the closing words from each and every poem in the whole encyclopedia.  

When further asked about his inspiration, his answer was “jokes,” and he confessed to a penchant for “silly lines.” 

“I like to be serious and silly at the same time,” he said, “… it’s an interesting aesthetic…hovering between the two.”  

Some entries consisted of illustrations in place of a mere poem. Foreman made use of and experimented with different forms and genres throughout the collection.

“I almost ran out of forms,” he said. “The concept for the book was sort of ‘different types of poems and different types of people.’”

A Complete Encyclopedia of the Different Types of People is his first collection of poems, published by Coach House Books, which recently received the 2011 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry and was also a finalist for the Concordia University First Book Prize. Foreman is also a founding editor of littlefishcartpress, which publishes both poetry from Canadian and international poets and is based in Orono, Ontario.  

The reading series invites “cutting-edge” authors and writers to read something every term. It is funded by the Canada Council for Arts and supported by St. Jerome’s and Wordsworth Books. It is free entry and each event includes a reading by the author and a Q&A session. The next event has Lisa Moore, author of bestselling novel “February” reading Feb. 26.

More information on the reading series can be found at canlitkicksass.blogspot.ca

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