A trio of local poets will gather in Vernon for a magical evening of in-person readings in celebration of National Poetry Month.
A group of writers has launched the Valley Voices Reading Series to give people access to readings by Okanagan writers up and down the valley.
“During COVID, few writers were able to launch their books in person,” said Nancy Holmes, a local poet and one of the organizers. “And people got out of the habit of going to book launches and readings – Zoom was not the same!”
This spring, Valley Voices will offer in-person readings by nine Okanagan writers in Vernon, Kelowna, and Summerland.
Vernon’s first Valley Voices reading features local poets Sharon Thesen, Michelle Poirier Brown and Holmes at Bean Scene Wednesday, April 19, at 7 p.m.
Thesen, a renowned Okanagan poet, will launch a book called Refabulations, her selected longer poems from her lifetime of writing. Erin Moure, poet and editor of this collection, says Thesen “is a poet who has surprised me and given me joy and wry laughter for over 40 years, renewing my belief in the poem, renewing my need for poetry, ever since I first discovered her work in 1980.”
Meanwhile, Holmes’ most recent book of poems, Arborophobia, came out during the pandemic, “so it will be a delight to have her share these new poems with us,” said Michelle Doege, a Vernon poet and Valley Voices organizer.
Holmes, who teaches creative writing at UBCO, writes into the wonder of these poems, but also the guilt and grief that are part of the human experience and the state of the natural world.
Poirier, a Métis poet and performer, has recently moved to syilx territory in Vernon. The poems in her two recently published collections – Intimacies and You Might Be Sorry You Read This – connect readers to the small and luminous details of a moment, but also show how breaking silences and reconciling identity can transform anger into something useful and beautiful.