Authors explore polygamy and duality on the page and stage

Vertigo Voices begins its spring readings with Vernon author Hannah Calder and Victoria poet and playwright Marita Dachsel.

Victoria poet and playwright Marita Dachsel reads from her new collection of poems

Victoria poet and playwright Marita Dachsel reads from her new collection of poems

Vertigo Voices, the reading series co-hosted by Okanagan College and Gallery Vertigo, begins its spring lineup Thursday with local author Hannah Calder and Victoria poet and playwright Marita Dachsel.

Dachsel is launching a new collection of poems, Glossolalia (Anvil, 2013), a book that explores the lives of the polygamous wives of Church of Latter Day Saints founder Joseph Smith.

While researching the book, Dachsel wondered, “What was it about polygamy, or more to the point, Joseph Smith, that made [these women] choose this relationship?”

Dachsel was surprised by how varied the women’s reasons were.

“Some women embraced it — they believed that they were fulfilling the end times… and they were entering this covenant for the greater good,” she said.

“Some of the younger ones were coerced into it — their and their family’s eternal salvation hinging on agreeing to it.”

In October, Dachsel took work from Glossolalia, as well as poetry from collections by Elizabeth Bachinsky and Jennica Harper, to create a feature-length dramatic work, called Initiation Trilogy, that played on Granville Island to rave reviews during the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival.

“I wanted to see art based on the Venn Diagram of poetry, theatre, and installation art,” she said. “I was interested in exploring alternate ways for poetry to reach an audience; to go beyond the page and the traditional reading.”

Another writer who has thought of the interplay between the page and the stage is Vernon novelist Hannah Calder.

Originally from the U.K., Calder attended her last two years of high school in Vernon and returned with her family recently, after years living abroad, to teach English at Okanagan College.

Calder will be reading from her first novel, More House (New Star, 2009), as well as new work in progress.

More House is a novel in which two different storylines are played out on one film set.

“I was very aware that I was in the process of writing a novel, particularly because I had allotted myself only one hour a day to complete,” said Calder. “The role of director allowed me to enter and interrupt the novel when I pleased and to bring attention to the artificiality and arbitrariness of writing a novel. One of the characters is also a director and I (as writer, narrator, director, etc.) disagree with her quite frequently. It was fun to have her there.”

Many of the characters are also visual artists in Calder’s new novel-in-progress.

“There’s lots of mental illness to go around. The humour in it is lighter than the humour in More House,” she said. “At times I resort to sarcasm in More House and I don’t think I’m doing that as much now – maybe because I’m older!”

Calder and Dachsel will read from their works at Gallery Vertigo, #1-3001-31st St., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Vertigo Voices Reading Series continues with readings by internationally-known Canadian poet bill bissett March 19 and the presentation of the inaugural John Lent Chapbook award March 25.

Admission is by donation. Call (250) 503-2297 for more information.