On Wednesday, March 31 at 7 pm, I’ll be taking part in an online evening of poetry and music with Vernon BC musician and author John Lent to kick off National Poetry Month for Oxygen Art Centre, Nelson BC’s only artist-run centre.

Watching a Man Break a Dog's Back - BookCover

This event revives a launch planned for last April for my 2020 poetry collection from Harbour Publishing, Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems For a Dark Time.

Those interested in attending can email info@oxygenartcentre.org to receive the Zoom link and accompanying event information. The reading and musical performance is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

At John’s suggestion, we’re calling the presentation “Dark Times Come Again No More”, based on the 1854 song by Stephen Foster, “Hard Times Come Again No More.” That song has been recorded by dozens of contemporary artists, including Mavis Staples, Bob Dylan and James Taylor.

The “dark time” in the subtitle to my new book doesn’t refer to the pandemic, even though Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems For a Dark Time was published in March 2020, just as the pandemic lockdown was getting underway. As the book mentions, I mean to refer to the situation we’re living through which the pandemic has exposed in more detail: the ever-growing gap between rich and poor, the de-industrialization of the country, permanent personal debt, and permanent war.

Music and poetry, however, are traditionally up to the challenge of dark times, and that’s what John and I aim to show on March 31st.

In the Okanagan Valley, John has performed for more than 20 years in the folk/jazz/blues ensemble, the Lent/Fraser/Wall Trio, among other musical groups. His latest CD, Strange Ground, was released in 2019. Highlight of his long career as an educator was serving five years as dean of the Vernon campus of Okanagan College. His most recent book of poems is A Matins Flywheel from Thistledown Press, 2019.