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Poetry reading doubles as book launch in Vernon

Three local poets will read their works at Bean Scene Wednesday, April 19
Vernon poet Sharon Thesen will launch her book, Refabulations, at Vernon’s first Valley Voices reading at Bean Scene Wednesday, April 19, 2023. (Submitted photo)

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.”

An expert of the long poem, Thesen uses this extended form to deeply explore planetary disaster, the humor and absurdity of our human lives, and to bring us into “the vigour of the Now.”

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.

“What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than to attend a reading by these three stellar poets, to take in the beauty of their language, their wisdom,” says Doege. “All of these poets offer us an opportunity to see into unique individual lives, but also, offer insights into these times in which we live.”

For more information about Valley Voices readings, find them on Facebook.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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