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Not only is there a fabulous new Ottawa arts blogger in town, Matias of ‘Ottawa Showbox’ also gave me a flattering review for my impromptu poetry performance at new series ‘4in1’ Ottawa Park Acoustic Sessions, hosted by photographer/music lover Ming Wu. Perfect end to a magical two weeks in Canada’s capital.

4in1

Jessica Ruano gave me a second, more forceful dose of spoken word. She was the designated ‘time killer’ since Del Bel and Lisa Bozikovic had to run for sound check. Wow. Jessica touched on themes I think we all experience at different points in our lives – particularly powerlessness, but also strength to recover from our times of weakness. She kicked ass.

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Where are the poets?

Hiding between the pages of books

Mumbling loose phrases on street corners

Or wringing their hands behind the red curtain

I find it funny that a poem has to ‘hold up’ on the page in order to be considered successful. Would you say the same thing for a musical composition or a choreographed dance?

I watched her take off her shoes, her socks, her jewelry

Before approaching the microphone

Her words strung together like the Spanish guitar

Her hands flowed like a Flamenco dancer, vibrant

Music can be a literary art when it involves lyrics; poetry can be a musical art when it involves rhythm.

Speak the speech I pray you

Let not the instruments muffle the sound of your voice

Nor the awkward rhythm of language make music coarse

We are for each other

We are for each other

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The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW 2010 Ottawa www.cfsw.ca) returns to the capital for the first time since its inception in 2004 with the largest slam-focused spoken word event in Canadian history. From October 12 to 16, 2010, Ottawa will be treated to a wide-ranging display of Canadian slam poetry and spoken word featuring over 100 of the best spoken word poets from 15 communities across Canada.

Capital Slam: John Akpata, PrufRock, Chris Tse, OpenSecret, and Brandon Wint

Over the course of five nights, 18 teams participate in highly competitive poetry slams that will determine this year’s Canadian Slam Champions. Home of the defending champions, Ottawa has two teams – Capital Slam and Urban Legends – attempting to keep the title in the capital this year.

Truth Is...

CFSW 2010 Ottawa features some of the biggest names in spoken word, most notably Dwayne Morgan with Toronto’s Up From the Roots, Truth Is… with the Burlington Slam, RC Weslowski from Vancouver, El Jones from Halifax, and John Akpata on Ottawa’s Capital Slam team.

CFSW 2010 Ottawa opens with a Francophone Showcase featuring Outaouais poet Marjolaine Beauchamp and closes with performances by the festival’s Poets of Honour Anthony Bansfield a.k.a. ‘the nth digri’ and Shauntay Grant.

CFSW 2010 Ottawa’s Daytime Programming is entirely FREE! Poets and poetry enthusiasts are welcome to attend workshops and panel discussions on poetry writing, spoken word in schools, and connecting with other arts organizations. There will also be a Last Chance Slam on October 12 to determine the festival’s ‘Wild Card’ Team, a Youth Showcase on October 13, and a Steve Sauvé Memorial Nerd Showcase on October 14. The poets will hit the streets of Ottawa ‘Guerrilla style’ on the afternoon of October 15 to perform random acts of poetry in the downtown core.

Following the slams, there will be late-night events highlighting the poetry of music: the Poetry & Music Cabaret featuring Scruffmouth, Moe Clark, and SPIN on October 13; the Slam After-Party with Montréal’s DJ Cosmo on October 14; and Toronto’s Kobo Town and Ottawa’s John Carroll & the Epic Proportions will grace the stage on October 15.

Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poetry in Canada has boomed over the last few years with numerous achievements across the country and around the world. In January of this year, Shane Koyczan introduced spoken word to the world at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver when he performed his poem “We Are More” at the Opening Ceremonies. This past summer, Ottawa’s Ian Keteku, member of the spoken word group The Recipe and one of the workshop facilitators at CFSW 2010 Ottawa, won the World Poetry Slam Cup in Paris, France.

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word takes place in numerous venues in downtown Ottawa (see the attached CFSW 2010 Ottawa press release and schedule for details) from October 12 to 16, 2010. For more information, please call the CFSW 2010 Ottawa hotline 613 301 8648, email info[at]cfsw[dot]ca, or visit www.cfsw.ca.

Tickets and Passes

Tuesday FREE ALL DAY | Slams Wednesday and Thursday $10 at the door

Semi-Finals Friday $10 adv./$15 door | Finals Saturday $15 adv./$20 door

Festival Pass $40

Advance Tickets and Festival Passes available

East African Restaurant | 376 Rideau Street | 613 789 7397

Compact Music | 190 Bank St. | 613 233 7626 | 785½ Bank St. | 613 233 8922

Vertigo Records | 193 Rideau Street | 613 241 1011

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Profit: £1.50

Photo credit: Jim from San Francisco

For the complete list of 101 things in 1001 days and the progress so far, follow this link.

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Greetings arts enthusiasts!

Hope everyone had a great World Theatre Day on March 27. Congratulations to new Ottawa theatre group Rock the Arts for winning the Ottawa Theatre Challenge with their awesome puppet show. I also really enjoyed Scott Florence’s tribute to Henrik Ibsen, featuring the Wakefield Nudes Calendar.

It seems like everyone has decided to take advantage of April Fools’ Day, so April 1 is jam packed full of events. Good luck trying to decide on just one activity!

As always, visit my website https://jessicaruano.wordpress.com for updates throughout the month, and feel free to add any upcoming April events in the comments section.

April 1
6th Annual Urbana

http://www.dharmadevelopments.com/urbana

URBANA celebrates the tireless work of Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa that has been an important part of our community for 50 years. The evening includes urban rhythms by DJ Memetic, hors d’oeuvres and live visual art, created by young artists from YSB, under the direction of local artist and illustrator Jordan Kent. Ottawa’s own Funk Delivery, performing street style dance such as locking, popping and b-boying will be featured. There will also be a silent auction of unique pieces of art created on windows.

April 1
Mélissa Laveaux at the Black Sheep Inn
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=104013046295788
http://www.melissalaveaux.com

Mélissa Laveaux returns to our old stomping grounds to re-release a new-er version of her debut album on the Spectra Musique label. Available in France since 2008 on the No Format label, Mélissa’s album captures her distinctive voice, performing acoustic blues, soul, folk and calypso in English, Creole and French. I first saw Mélissa perform at Café Nostalgica when I was 16, and it is so satisfying to see her working as a successful international musician; she really deserves it.

April 1
Patrick John Mills Contemporary Fine Art Gallery presents Going Local
http://www.patrickjohnmills.ca/FirstThursday.htm

Now that’s a title I like to hear! This (free) exhibit runs all month, but on April 1st you can meet the artists from 6 to 9pm at the gallery, with a reception catered by Essence Catering. These local artists are: Dane Atkinson, David Cation, Chikozero Chazunguza, Angela McGowan, Daniel Martelock, Patrick John Mills, Daniel Nadeau, Dawn Sandy, Robert Toovey, and Mariam Qureshi. Video film by artist Marc Adornato. Sculptures by: Garry Bowes, Shaukat Chaney, Cairn Cunnane, and Stefan Thompson. Also, check out the monthly Gallery Hop with seven participating galleries, all in the same neighbourhood!

April 1 & 2
The Bus Driver’s Handbook to Far Flung Destinations
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=111101248901001&index=1

Don’t miss this theatre creation between two members of Tatiana Jenning’s Kadozuke Kollektif: Brad Long and Sean Robertson-Palmer. It takes place at the relatively new Guerilla Heart Juice Studio, 111-A Rideau Street. For me, this venue is fitting because I first met Brad through a GHJ workshop last summer; I can’t wait to see more of his work.

April 6 to 10
Unicorn Theatre presents Blood Relations
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=396201841689&ref=ts

Winner of the Governor General’s Award, Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock is a metatheatrical approach to the story of Lizzie Borden, who was accused and acquitted of her parents murder in Massachusetts, 1892. Miss Lizzie and her close friend relive the events leading up to the murders, removing the boundaries of time from 1892 to 1902. This production is directed by Rideau Award Nominee (Outstanding Adaptation for Pirate Jenny‘s Circus, Counterpoint Players 2009) Bronwyn Steinberg, an MFA candidate in Directing for the Theatre at the University of Ottawa. Ivo Valentik is the set designer; Sarah Waghorn, the costume designer; and the show features prominent local actors Michelle Leblanc and Kelly Rigole. Looking forward to it!

Also, on Saturday, April 10 – the last day of the run – the University of Ottawa’s Department of Theatre will be hosting its inaugural multidisciplinary bilingual graduate student conference entitled Staging History in Canada. And I’ll be on one of the panels giving a paper about international festivals. For more information, visit this website: http://uottawatheatre.wordpress.com/

April 7
The A B Series presents Sonnet L’Abbé
http://abseries.org

Don’t miss Sonnet L’Abbé, the award-winning author of two collections of poetry, at the Mercury Lounge in the Byward Market.

April 7 to 24
The National Arts Centre English Theatre presents The Comedy of Errors
http://nac-cna.ca/en/theatre/index.cfm

The NAC English Theatre concludes its 40th anniversary season with one of Shakespeare’s earliest and silliest comedies. I have never seen this play performed, so I’m glad to have the chance to see it now. With this show you get two sets of identical twins, mistaken identities, hilarious wordplay, and even a case of demonic possession. Inspired by Montreal’s crazed summer festival season, this show is directed by the one-and-only Peter Hinton and features local actor Paul Rainville.

April 11
The Spoken Word Plot presents Nadine Thornhill and Jessica Ruano
https://jessicaruano.wordpress.com/upcoming/

The Spoken Word Plot presents the poetic stylings of Ottawa-based writers/performers Nadine Thornhill and Jessica Ruano. Both feisty and thoughtful, these poetesses bring their personal stories to the stage with an adorkable elegance and a hint of mischief. Having both headlined separately at the Voices of Venus series at the Umi Cafe, we are super excited to be doing a show together for the first time. And if you need more incentive to attend – I’m going to be playing Nadine’s clitoris. Yes, you heard me.

April 13 to 24
Spring Fest 2010
http://springfest2010.ca/

SpringFest 2010 is a grassroots festival of local and regional poetry, visual arts, theatre, and music dedicated to the celebration of community and the emergence of spring. This celebration is for the people of Ottawa by the youth of Ottawa, and is a small effort against the homogeneity and elitism of art in our city. All are welcome at this festival featuring the same bards and artists who frequent the same parks, the same cafés, the same libraries, and the same community of neighbours.

April 13 to May 2
The Great Canadian Theatre Company presents Facts
http://www.gctc.ca/

Khalid Yassin, a Palestinian inspector and Yossi HaCohen, an Israeli detective are brought together under political pressure to solve the murder of an American archaeologist in the West Bank. But how do you solve a murder when all sides are suspect? A politically charged mystery, this new play by local playwright Arthur Milner looks at the space that lies somewhere between fact and fiction, truth and lies, friends and enemies. Don’t miss the world premiere directed by (former AD of the GCTC) Patrick McDonald.

April 14
Jer’s Vision Gala
http://tiny.cc/gala2010

Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative & the international Day of Pink celebrates its 5th anniversary at the Exchange in the Rideau Centre (formerly the Elephant and Castle). The FREE event will celebrate diversity, and will include a reception and performances all evening! I attend Jer’s Gala every year and it’s always a most wonderful evening. Actually, for a couple of years I stage managed the event: and let me tell you, you don’t know what stage managing is until you’ve done it with drag queens.

April 16
Halabisky’s Uprising Video Release Party
www.myspace.com/halabiskysuprising

Check out local musician Dave Halabisky joined by Moka Only, directed by Luca Furgiuele at Zaphod Beeblebrox.

April 17
The Cube Salon
presents “carpe diem”
http://cubesalon.ca/

“Procrastini” is the name of Jonathan Koensgen’s playwriting debut on the Ottawa stage. Since he was first cast professionally at the age of 11, Koensgen has racked up stage and screen credits too numerous to list, and Cube Salon is thrilled to be working with him as he turns his theatre craft to the written page. With musical support from recording artist John Carroll.

April 22 to 27
Ottawa International Writers Festival
http://writersfestival.org/

Festival season kicks off with the Ottawa International Writers Festival: the perfect event to stretch your literary muscles. The festival has a new home this year at the Mayfair Theatre in Old Ottawa South, with lunchtime programming back at the National Library and Archives. Full schedule available online!

Thanks for reading, and have a great month!

Artistically yours,

Jessica Ruano

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Official launch: March 14

Greetings arts fans!

There is a lot to celebrate in the month of March: International Women’s Day (March 8), World Theatre Day (March 27), and my half-birthday (March 12). All very important occasions; and yes, I expect lots of half-presents.

In recent news: the nominees for the 2009 Prix Rideau Awards have been announced! For a full list, please follow this link: http://wp.me/p1SoS-wQ

Once again, if I have not included any local events in March featuring Ottawa artists in this newsletter, please feel free to post them on my website “the most exquisite moments” in the comments section.

Enjoy!

POETRY AND SPOKEN WORD

March 6
Capital Slam featuring Elyse Maltin
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=339956817648&ref=ts

March 7
Dusty Owl Reading Series “Open Hoot”
http://dustyowl.com/whatsnew.htm

March 9
Voices of Venus featuring Ruthanne Edward
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=82921239343&ref=ts

Storyteller extraordinaire Ruthanne Edward takes the stage at this Ottawa literary series that shines a spotlight on women writers. Quickly becoming my favourite local event! See my piece on VoV on my website: http://wp.me/p1SoS-wV

March 11
Bill Brown’s 1-2-3 Slam featuring Luna Allison & The Living Sound System
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=324713271475&ref=ts

March 12
Urban Legends Poetry Slam

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Urban-Legends-Poetry-Slam/101529778283?v=wall&ref=ts

March 27
The A B Series presents Gary Barwin
http://abseries.org/node/135

THEATRE, SHOWTUNES, BOOK LAUNCHES, and MORE!

March 2 to 21
The Great Canadian Theatre Company presents blood.claat: one oomaan story
http://www.gctc.ca/

I saw this vibrant production featuring d’bi.young at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival a year and a half ago. This is a fine example of dub poetry used in a theatrical setting: totally accessible and still makes your heart sing and your fingertips dance. For spoken word and theatre lovers alike.

March 3 to 6
Toto Too Theatre presents Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
http://tototoo.ca/

Members of a James Dean fan club meet up on the anniversary of his death in small town Texas. Ottawa artist and professor Janne Cleveland directs a predominantly female cast in this play that features an openly transsexual character. Toto Too is passionate about bringing queer theatre to the capital, and I’m glad to see the company is producing this female focussed piece, especially so close to International Women’s Day! Woot!

March 4 (runs until the 28)
Canteen Gallery presents Two Days Slow: An Alice in Wonderland Group Show
http://canteenlife.com/artwork/1206666.html

Sure, the gallery is capitalizing on the upcoming Tim Burton movie. But I think this is a fabulous idea!
A gallery of pure nonsense, Canteen hosts Two Days Slow, an Alice in Wonderland themed show. Featuring a multitude of talented international and local artists indulging in the whimsical world of Wonderland, the show promises the irrepressible silliness of white rabbits, tea parties, wise caterpillars, Cheshire cats and wide-eyed wonder.

March 13
Show Tune Showdown 2010 – fifth anniversary!
http://www.tonecluster.ca/index.php?home

Join three teams of musical theatre performers as they compete for bragging rights and cold hard cash for their theatre company. This year, Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre program returns from Oakville to compete against Ottawa teams from Orpheus Musical Theatre Society and Zucchini Grotto Theatre Company. Judging them this year will be famed Ottawa actor and playwright Pierre Brault, CBC Radio host Kathleen Petty, and performer Erica Peck.

March 14
Von Allan launches graphic novel “the road to god knows…”
http://trtgk.vonallan.com/

This critically-acclaimed graphic novel by (the red-headed and freckled) Ottawa artist and writer Von Allan explores the struggle of a teenage girl as she comes to grips with her mother’s schizophrenia. The formal launch takes place at the independent bookstore Perfect Books on Elgin Street from 4pm. Don’t miss it!

March 14
Acoustic Waves: Ana Miura
http://www.ottawafolk.org/

Ottawa based international touring artist Ana Miura performs at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre as part of the Ottawa Folk Festival acoustic waves series. In addition to having a great voice and charming stage presence, Ana has been really involved in the Ottawa community: you might know her as the founder of Babes for Breasts, a collection of female singer/songwriters that raise money for breast cancer charities, or the General Manager of the Ottawa Folk Festival. Also, on March 20 & 27, you can check out the Ottawa Folk Festival Auditions at the Raw Sugar Café.

March 19 to 28
New Ottawa Repertory Theatre presents Cherry Docs
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=96153615270

In this critically acclaimed play by Ottawa playwright David Gow, a neo-Nazi skinhead charged with murder has a Jewish legal-aid lawyer appointed to defend him. The title is an abbreviation of the phrase “cherry red Doc Marten boots”, worn by skinheads. The lawyer, Danny, insists that the young offender, Mike, help construct his own defence, to make the young man “stand up” and be accountable. Directed Paul Dervis, this production features local actors Jeff Lefebvre and Garrett Quirk.

March 23 to April 3
The National Arts Centre English Theatre presents Where the Blood Mixes
http://nac-cna.ca/en/theatre/index.cfm

Hey, I also saw this at the Magnetic North Festival a year and a half ago! Looks like my travels are catching up to me in this weird time-warped fashion. For his play Where the Blood Mixes, Kevin Loring was awarded the 2009 Governor General’s Award in Drama. Well-deserved, I think. The play looks at the effects of residential schools on the next generation of aboriginals. It is humourous, touching and original, and does not fall into the trap of being preachy or didactic. This is darn good – and important –theatre.

March 27
Ottawa Theatre Challenge on World Theatre Day
http://nac-cna.ca/en/whatson/results.cfm?EventID=6178

Join a Company of Fools at this 10th annual Contest of Creation at the National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage for an amazing evening of creativity. Forty-eight hours prior to the Theatre Challenge, local theatre companies are assigned inspiration items and will create scenes based on these items. The results are hilarious. Eddie May Murder Mysteries took home the rubber chicken prize last year; let’s see who grabs it this time!

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to email me with upcoming events for April. Remember, this newsletter focusses on local artists and events that take place in Ottawa.

Artistically yours,

Jessica Ruano

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Barbara Adler

Last night I attended a special presentation of Voices of Venus at the Umi Cafe: Vancouver’s own Barbara Adler happened to be in the neighbourhood with her newly created band Fang, consisting of herself on accordion and James Meger on upright bass. The songs and poems were about saints riding bears, cats chasing mice, communism in Czechoslovakia, teenage girls, the weather, fantasies of park rangers, and having sex with mimes. Often the songs would encourage audience call-and-response, and we were ready and eager to participate.

I know Barbara from the spoken-word music group The Fugitives, and I’ve been an avid fan of hers for the last five years. I can honestly say that, more than anyone else, she has influenced the way in which I want to write poetry. I love her enthusiasm, her capacity for storytelling, her mild self-deprecation, and the fact that she can spin spectacular metaphors out of real life experience. I once sent someone one of her love poems, explaining: “I wish I could have written this poem for you.” She is a strong, confident female voice.

That’s what I love about this series. I’ve never considered myself much of an essentialist (as in, believing that women have essential features that separate them from men – since I do think that gender is such a fluid thing, and that we all have elements of both male and female, however you might define those words), and yet I find it so comforting, so pleasing, so familiar being in an environment where women are placed in the spotlight. Believe it or not, I am shy about performing: and this series has given me the confidence to seek out performance opportunities, to continue to write and to improve and to share.

For that, I would like to highlight two special Ottawa women who are accomplishing awesome things this particular Friday in February. Also, I wanted to show off these pictures from our recent photo shoots!

Lauryn

You may know Lauryn Kronick from practically every single event that ever happens in this city. A fellow artsy socialite, Lauryn has worked as a journalist in Europe and Africa, and she is the main reason I’m never at home in the evenings. Tonight is the opening night of The Vagina Monologues at the National Gallery of Canada, and Lauryn is doing the “moaning monologue.” Yes, that one. It’s also her birthday today!

Nadine

Playwright-actor-poet-blogger extraordinaire Nadine Thornhill launches her sex-advice column entitled “Dirty Laundry” today with online arts and culture magazine Apartment 613. In addition to her artistic endeavours, Nadine works as a professional sexual health educator with Planned Parenthood. She is open-minded, open to discussion, and speaks openly about the wonders of masturbation. Send in your questions!

Are there any awesome people in this community that you think we should know about? Feel free to post a comment and express your admiration for someone who is doing something artsy, inspiring, revolutionary… or just plain fun.

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