How has the reading series been transformed by the Covid pandemic and its accompanying technologies of virtual gatherings? In this episode, Jason Camlot – SpokenWeb Director and Professor of English at Concordia University – takes us on a reflective listening tour through recordings of the Words and Music Show as it has evolved through the pandemic since early 2020. The Words and Music Show has been organized by Ian Ferrier for two decades to bring performances of literature, art, and music to live audiences at the Casa del Popolo in Montreal. Jason assisted Ian with organizing after Covid sent the series online, and this episode takes us into the in-person and virtual sounds of the Show. In this episode, we listen to the journey of one reading series and its co-curator over the past two years. Join us in reflecting on how the pandemic has changed the ways we share and connect to each other through literature, art, and performance.
The Show Goes On: Words and Music in a Pandemic
February 7, 2022
|00:00:06||SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music:||Instrumental Overlapped With Feminine Voice] Can you hear me? I don’t know how much projection to do here.
|00:00:18||Hannah McGregor:||What does literature sound like? What stories will we hear if we listen to the archive? Welcome to the SpokenWeb Podcast: Stories about how literature sounds. [End Music: SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music]
|00:00:36||Hannah McGregor:||My name is Hannah McGregor, and each month I’ll be bringing you different stories of Canadian literary history, and our contemporary responses to it, created by scholars, poets, students, and artists from across Canada. How have our experiences of live artistic events changed during the pandemic? The Words and Music Show is a monthly gathering that poet and musician Ian Ferrier has organized for over twenty years. It invites artists to share spoken word poetry, literature, music, dance, and other kinds of performance. Before March 2020, Ian brought the show to audiences in the physical space of Casa del Popolo in Montreal. The pandemic sent this event online and into strange hybrid physical/digital forms, as has happened with so many events that we used to attend in our favourite venues. Jason Camlot assisted Ian in hosting the show online during this pandemic period.
|00:01:34||Hannah McGregor:||In addition to co-hosting the Words and Music Show Jason Camlot is the director of the SpokenWeb Network and a Professor of English at Concordia University. He uses past recordings of the show to bring us this new episode of the podcast during yet another wave of Covid contagion and shut-downs. Listening to these recordings is a call to reflect back on the many pivots this show and other live events have made over the past two years of Covid-impacted life. Jason wonders aloud whether it’s too soon (and too close to home) to yet theorize about how Covid has transformed reading events, but he suggests it might be helpful to listen back to what organizers, artists, and fans of the show have been experiencing. What does this artistic gathering sound like now? Some of the sounds may be familiar to you: Zoom glitches and tech troubles; the lonely reverberance of a small crowd clapping; coughing fits; the strange absence of ambient conversation; and the background sounds of pets and children, reminders that people are listening from usually-private home spaces.
|00:02:34||Hannah McGregor:||Artists and creative event organizers are a tough bunch: they have and will continue to weather the storms of challenges and unknowns in order to share writing, art, and poetry with those who wish to listen. We invite you to listen to this episode with us, as we reflect on the shifting sounds of poetry readings and artistic community – and the power these events continue to have for us all. Here is Jason Camlot with Episode 5 of our third season of the SpokenWeb Podcast: “The Show Goes On: Words and Music in a Pandemic”. [Interlude: SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music]
|00:03:14||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||Here we go. Four minute venue buzz. Let’s see if it works… [Indistinct Shuffling Sounds] Not a chance.
|00:03:28||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music Online, August 2020:
|It’s not working? [Laughs] Are you sharing computer sound? [Sounds of Ian and Jason Troubleshooting Continue]|
|00:03:32||Jason Camlot:||That is the sound of me, Jason Camlot, and Ian Ferrier working out some technical effects just before the start of a Words and Music show that we hosted on Zoom in August, 2020.
|00:03:43||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||– well, you don’t have the advanced?
|00:03:45||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||I’m not sure that I do at the moment…
|00:03:47||Jason Camlot:||I’m Jason Camlot, a professor in Concordia University’s department of English and research chair in Literature and Sound Studies.
|00:03:55||Ian Ferrier:||Hi, I’m Ian Ferrier and as far as this conversation is concerned, I’m a poet and a musician and a curator of multimedia shows featuring literature, music, poetry, performance, and dance.
|00:04:11||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||Yeah, I think we’re just gonna start this.|
|00:04:17||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||Oh, here’s Jay Alexander Brown.
|00:04:20||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||Oh, there we go. [Laugh].
|00:04:24||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||[Laugh] Yeah. Let that go for a minute before we start. [Start Music: Instrumental with Voices]
|00:04:26||Jason Camlot:||This episode is about all the shows that Ian and I have hosted online during the pandemic.
|00:04:32||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music Online, August 2020:||So, good evening everyone and welcome to the Words and Music Show.
|00:04:36||Jason Camlot:||Since 2016, the “Where Poets Read” online listing of literary events in Montreal (curated by my colleague and regular collaborator Dr. Katherine McLeod) has posted details of nearly 800 readings. [End Music: Instrumental with Voices] The last “live” in-person event listed on the site (until very recently) was for the Épiques Voices: Bilingual Poetry Show held at La Vitrola on March 10th, 2020. That amazingly fun and moving bilingual show was co-hosted by Katherine and Catherine Cormier-Larose. I remember the show very well, not only because of the awesome readings by Klara du Plessis, Kama La Mackerel, Alexei Perry Cox, and ten other excellent poets, but especially because it was the last public reading I would attend in person for a period for a very long time. For 593 days, to be exact. More about how that stretch of time ended a bit later in this podcast.[Sound Effect: Tape Rewinding] But first let’s go back to March 2020, a time when we were just beginning to understand the implications of how the pandemic might alter our lives. Between March 12th and March 29th, the “Where Poets Read” listing showed a series of notices for “cancelled” or “postponed” shows. You would find messages on Facebook, like this one from Ian Ferrier.
|00:05:59||Ian Ferrier:||[Start Music: Breaking News Music] [Voice Effect: News Anchor Voice] Tonight’s show is not cancelled, only postponed. We are collecting tracks from all the performers who were scheduled to present and preparing the way to present them live in this group sometime in this upcoming week. Stay tuned and stay safe.
|00:06:12||Jason Camlot:||And then we see a listing for the Words and Music Show online.
|00:06:18||Ian Ferrier:||It took longer than a week, by the way, it ended up being towards the middle or the end of April, before we could get people online.
|00:06:26||Jason Camlot:||Yeah, this was the first one, right? Like April 20 –April 19th?
|00:06:30||Ian Ferrier:||Gee, was that it? Wow, that was a good one too.
|00:06:33||Jason Camlot:||Or was it…?
|00:06:35||Jason Camlot:||The correct date of that first online Words and Music Show of the Pandemic Period was March 29th, 2020. It featured work by Brian Bartlett, Lune tres belle, Alexei Perry-Cox, Nisha Coleman, and Choeur Sala.
|00:06:50||Jason Camlot:||Since that date (based on data some students of mine have been collecting by scouring events postings on social media) there have been thousands of online literary events (readings, book launches, public interviews and panels) hosted from locations across Canada (and across the world) using platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Live, Crowdcast, Instagram and YouTube. If you have ever attended a poetry reading (whether you enjoyed it or not), or if you have ever listened to an episode of the SpokenWeb Podcast before, you will know that public readings and performance are an important kind of literary communication, circulation and community-building. Much of the collaborative research pursued across the SpokenWeb network is committed to preserving, listening to, and trying to understand the many meanings of historical recordings that document literary activity in Canada. In studying the thousands of recordings that constitute our collective archives of literary sound, we find ourselves asking, “What did this event mean?” [Start Music: Ambient Sounds] Sometimes we find ourselves asking even more basic questions, like, “Whose voice is that? [Pause] What’s that sound?” [Pause] But here we are, in a period of major disruption again to just about everything, including to literary events, readings, and gatherings. There seem to be new, urgent questions to ask: What does this pandemic mean for literary performance communities? What does it mean for the way we think about and experience literature, as compared to how we did before, when we could see each other in person without concern of spreading or catching a potentially fatal virus? Even as I articulate the question, “What does this mean?” another question arises simultaneously, not quite drowning out the first one, but certainly obscuring its intelligibility and potential. “What does this mean? Is this a question I should be asking right now? [End Music: Ambient Sounds]|
|00:08:53||Jason Camlot:||Back in May, 2020, my colleague, Katherine McLeod, and I made a podcast for this SpokenWeb Podcast series, an episode called “How are we Listening Now?” –|
|00:09:07||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||[Zoom Doorbell Chime] Hello? [Start Music: SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music]|
|00:09:09||Audio Recording, Katherine McLeod, Words and Music, May 2021:||Hello? Can you hear me?|
|00:09:11||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||Yep. Hi Katherine.|
|00:09:13||Audio Recording, Katherine McLeod, Words and Music, May 2021:||Hi!|
|00:09:14||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||Wait, let me turn my video on. Where are you, in your kitchen?|
|00:09:21||Audio Recording, Katherine McLeod, Words and Music, May 2021:||Uh, no, actually I’m in my office room.|
|00:09:25||Audio Recording, Unknown Voice, Words and Music, May 2021:||Hello from my kitchen!|
|00:09:26||Jason Camlot:||– about what it felt like to live and listen under pandemic conditions [End Music: SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music] just a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic first began March 2020.|
|00:09:35||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, March 2020 :||Good evening and welcome to a fine winter evening of literature and some poems and some music.|
|00:09:44||Jason Camlot:||We actually used the sounds from that first online Words and Music Show, including the performances of Nisha Coleman –|
|00:09:51||Audio Recording, Nisha Coleman, Words and Music, March 2020 :||It’s precarious, of course it’s precarious in the best of times. And now we’re entering a new time where it’s sort of precarious for everybody. So I think it’s more important than ever to have this community, whether it be in person together, singing hymns and drinking out of the same beer bottle or maintaining this connection over the internet.|
|00:10:13||Jason Camlot:||– and Alexei Perry Cox.
|00:10:16||Audio Recording, Alexei Perry Cox, Words and Music, March 2020 :||[Baby Cooing] [Reciting Poetry] My lover believed there had to be a point at which reality perfect and conquerous would get through to humankind.|
|00:10:23||Jason Camlot:||In retrospect, it marked the beginning of a long series of ongoing, and maybe repetitive questions. That episode could go on and on, with only slight modifications to the title: How are we listening, now? And now? [Multiple Repetitions of “and now”] Katherine and I did revisit the episode and expand our thinking around that initial question in a scholarly article recently published in a special “Pandemics” issue of the journal, Canadian Literature. We ended our contribution to the article with a rather upbeat take on the transformative implications of the pandemic upon our scholarly and pedagogical activities. We concluded:
|00:10:58||Jason Camlot and Katherine McLeod:||[Simultaneous Voices] Pandemic listening may be a new, tremulous classroom within which we will come to hear, unlearn, and transform our understandings and practices of listening.
|00:11:20||Jason Camlot:||Our article is filled with theses of different kinds about pandemic listening, that were developed through a process of listening to the kinds of online conversations about literature that we were having with students and colleagues during the first months of the pandemic. Writing the article necessarily represented an exercise in abstraction and theorization of that early experience (at least I felt it was necessary in preparing the article).|
|00:11:41||Jason Camlot:||[Start Music: Ambient Electronic Sounds] When is it a good time to reflect on a crisis within which one is still deeply entrenched? When’s a good time to reflect on our experience of the pandemic? Is it too soon to do so? Given that we are in a fifth wave now, and that the Omicron variant has initiated a series of public responses that are reminiscent of the very early period of the pandemic, it may be a good time to listen to what we have gone through, even though we’re still going through it. Perhaps it is still too early to theorize the meaning of the pandemic, but it feels helpful, somehow, to listen to it. [Pause] In this episode, my way of listening to my recent experience of the texture of time, and to the pandemic as it existed for me for an hour or so, on every third Sunday of the month, will take the form of selecting and playing recorded moments from some of the sixteen distinct online Words and Music Show events that I have co-hosted with Ian Ferrier (from my institutional Zoom account) since March 22nd, 2020. [Pause] In selecting moments from pandemic episodes of the Words and Music Show, I have been as interested in listening to the sounds around the performance, as the performances themselves. [End Music: Ambient Electronic Sounds].|
|00:13:16||Jason Camlot:||We were interested in the sounds that surround the show, as well.
|00:13:19||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||So, Jason, will you be doing the fake applause?|
Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:
|Oh, I can send you some fake applause if you want.|
|00:13:28||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Yeah, sure. Send me some fake applause.|
|00:13:31||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||One sec –I just –Jason, I just sent you a couple of little applause clips.|
|00:13:39||Audio Recording, Klara du Plessis, July 2020:||How’s everyone’s weekend been?|
|00:13:47||Audio Recording, Cole Mash, July 2020:||It was like Klara just walked in on a sitcom and –.|
|00:13:53||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||By the way, that’s real life Casa applause.|
|00:13:57||Audio Recording, Klara du Plessis, July 2020:||Oh cool!|
|00:13:57||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||And I just sent you four minutes of crowd buzz too, which is like just when nothing’s going on –|
|00:14:04||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Right.|
|00:14:05||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||– and people are talking with each other.|
|00:14:07||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Oh, hi Judee.|
|00:14:07||Audio Recording, Judee Burr, July 2020:||Hey everyone.|
|00:14:10||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Thanks for coming.|
|00:14:13||Audio Recording, Judee Burr, July 2020:||Yeah! So happy to be here. Jason, that’s a virtual background. I didn’t know.|
|00:14:19||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||It is.|
|00:14:19||Audio Recording, Judee Burr, July 2020:||It’s quite deceptive.|
|00:14:20||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Yeah. It’s the Casa del Popolo where the Words and Music show often happens or usually happens. Yeah.|
|00:14:28||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||[Start Audio Clip: Crowd Buzz] There we go! Crowd buzz.|
|00:14:31||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Crowd buzz. We’re creating a virtual atmosphere.|
|00:14:35||Audio Recording, Judee Burr, July 2020:||Wow, the crowd is so, so loud. It’s hard to hear you guys!|
|00:14:38||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||[Laugh] I know. That’s why we gotta yell.|
|00:14:42||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, July 2020:||In honour of this crowd, I’m gonna go grab myself a beer before this show starts. I’ll be right back.|
|00:14:48||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:||Good idea. Alright.|
|00:14:49||Audio Recording, Katherine McLeod, July 2020:||It’s so crowded. He might find there’s a line up.|
|00:14:55||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, July 2020:
|Hey Kenny, I don’t know if you can hear us.|
|00:14:58||Jason Camlot:||Sounds like audience buzz and different kinds of applause captured on tape [End Audio Clip: Crowd Buzz] from past live shows to give a sound of appreciation from a group of people that is practically impossible to produce when on Zoom, [Start Audio Clip: November 2021, Words and Music Crowd Buzz] because Zoom cancels out sound altogether when more than two or three people speak or make noise at the same time, at least with the standard noise cancellation settings on. [Audio Clip of Crowd Buzz continues] We missed those sounds online. [End Audio Clip: November 2021, Words and Music Crowd Buzz]|
|00:15:32||Jason Camlot:||Those first ten months of the Pandemic. Oh my god. Not only were we dealing with the anxiety and intense uncertainty of the virus, not quite knowing what it was all about, and many months away from the first vaccines. But Donald Trump still had a Twitter account (that was only taken away from him on January 9th, 2021). And on May 25th, George Floyd, was murdered. [Silence] Teaching and collaborative research activities, and community work (like being on the Board of the Quebec Writers Federation, QWF) kept me sane by giving me a sense of purpose. But the dull hum sounding feelings of utter purposelessness and helplessness were always there, in the background. Through my participation in the QWF, and with the leadership of spoken word performer and novelist Tanya Evanson, a regular Words and Music performer over the years, I became involved in collaboratively producing a show that featured Black Montreal-based performers, Roen Higgins, Fabrice Koffy, Faith Paré and Jason (Blackbird) Selman. For this QWF, Wired on Words, Throw Collective, and SpokenWeb special “Black Writers Out Loud” edition of the Words and Music Show, we invited these four amazing performers to appear on the legendary stage of the Sala Rossa.
|00:16:55||Jason Camlot:||[Start Background Audio: Sounds of the Sala Rossa]|
|00:18:01||Jason Camlot:||On this night for the recording of the Montreal Black Writers Out Loud event, a little more than two years later, the atmosphere at the Sala was something quite different. Venues were not allowed to have audiences at shows. We were recording the performances from the Sala stage to be webcast as a “live from the Sala Words and Music show” just a few hours later. The only people in the venue were the four performers, the audio and video technicians who were recording the sets, Ian, who was introducing the artists from the stage, and me, because it was thought I might need to Zoom cast the show from there if the recording took longer than expected. We were all masked when I said hi to the performers before they began, and then I watched in the chilly empty space leaning on the bar at the back of the room. The taps were dry. The performances were fantastic. Fabrice Koffey.
|00:18:58||Audio Recording, Fabrice Koffey, Black Writers Out Loud, Words and Music Show, November 2020:
|[Fabrice performs the work “Je m’appelle Serge…” alternating between French and English]|
|00:19:19||Jason Camlot:||They were all the more amazing given that each artist has to do their set a second time because the sound messed up during the first recording session, and the error was only discovered after all four sets of the entire hour-long show had been performed. In fact Roen Higgins had to come back another day to re-record her set because she couldn’t hang around to it a second time; she had to get home to a child who was sick. So her set wouldn’t make it out to Zoom and Facebook Live that night. Faith Paré|
|00:19:47||Audio Recording, Faith Paré Black Writers Out Loud, Words and Music Show, November 2020:||Hi there guys. Thank you so much for coming out tonight. I wanna say thank you to the Quebec Writers Federation, to Wired on Words and Ian Ferrier, to SpokenWeb Canada and to the Throw Collective. This is really wicked to be able to be in the space again. So as well, thank you to the Sala Rossa team for taking good care of us and Fabrice and Jason and to Rowan who’s here with us in spirit. It was awesome getting to chat with you guys in September and really wicked to be performing alongside some powerhouse poets from Montreal. So thank you for welcoming me into this community as well. I have a kind of suite of poetry for you guys, which is kind of a Black feminist elegizing of the world. And it begins with an epigraph from the poet, Claire Harris. [Begins reading poetry] While babies bleed, this is not the poem I wanted./ It is the poem I could./ Poetry is the stuff of a life lived./ What I have endured is no life./ The insult of that, the salt poured into the wound my mouth was replaced with./ I know the unsolicited tips to smooth my frown lines./ I know to try a smile from every sidewalk, leering guy./ I know the flies I’m bound to catch, how impolite. /No one likes mouth on a Black girl, unless it’s sucking cock or it’s an open grave, best when both./ And when they still see a hanged man in my dangling shin, I need to fix my face/ But my face is already fixed on the doomscroll, /The hashtags wreck, the headline bolded and stampeding through my throat./ When I’m sitting with a pen./ When I try laughter/ When I take a sip of water stolen from somewhere and still smell smoke from the flash bang grenade tossed on the Black girl asleep./ The breathless call for mother of a Black girl when they barked her off balcony/ Black girl, after Black girl submerged in river after river/ Because of their dead names can’t go,/ Can’t go anywhere in the world. /Can’t go when the one door out is my mouth./ Can’t when sound is cowering inside me with canned food, ready to hide years on end./ Can’t. [Intake of breath].
|00:22:08||Jason Camlot:||The Sala show was an experiment of sorts, an attempt to give the effect of a live show delivered from a beloved venue for an online audience. The quality of the performances, and the quality of the audio and video were both great. But there was also something a bit eerie about the juxtaposition of a recognizable, happening venue in which nothing was happening apart from the amazing performances on stage. The silence surrounding the sets was more than just noticeable. It was audible. It was thick. Thick with quiet and absence. [Audio Clip: Person Exhales] . Jason Blackbird Selman
|00:22:49||Audio Recording, Jason Blackbird Selman, Writers Out Loud, Words and Music Show, November 2020:||[Jason Blackbird Selman performing “Lend me a psychedelic dream…”] Lend me a psychedelic dream./ Lend me pieces of daylight./ Lend me a destruction sweeter than anything I can remember./ Lend me open sounds, a courtyard, Sedgwick Ave. /Bury this knowledge and sound./ A beat that repeats a rhythm that has a mind of its own./ Let the mind grow,/ spread to all five boroughs like a virus, black fire, wild stone rhythm for talk,/ Speak softly. Take over the world./ It was so easy to know you once I began listening to myself,/ the verse became free psychedelic colours and psychedelic graves./ Daisies growing wild from the barrel of a gun shoot stars./ Love is an idle threat shouted to the world who is not like I when delivering themselves to themselves,/ a glass filled with years, this venom filled with love./ I love her so much because she lets me know that I am fading./Ghetto codes and grey days./ The search for search, the sound of sound./ Find yourself in flames evenings on pause, part of something, apart and in parts/ Open the first door./ Let yourself in. [End reading]|
|00:25:20||Audio Recording, Jason Blackbird Selman, Writers Out Loud, Words and Music Show, November 2020:||Good evening. It’s good to be here at Sala. It’s always good to be here, in amongst wonderful poets from our city. And all of you are watching right now. I just wanna say thank you to KWF to Ian, Words and Music. And, it’s good that we can do this. But I also really look forward to coming back into the world and having a full audience because we appreciate your virtual support, [Start Music: Ambient Sounds] but we also appreciate your energy and face to face. Cause that does make what we do really worth doing.
|00:26:06||Jason Camlot:||I feel honoured to have been one of a handful of people who was in the room to see those terrific live performances before an absent audience. I hooted and yeahed, clapped and cheered loudly through my mask from the back of the room. The reverberation of my solitary response was a bit sad. I could have been an installation in the show currently running at the Montreal Museum of Modern Art, entitled, “How long does it take for one voice to reach another?” For the next month’s show, Ian and I went back to sitting in front of our computers and hosted an event of performers and audience members who were sitting in front of theirs. [End Music: Ambient Sounds] As we realized that online shows meant you could invite just about anyone in the world to perform (on Zoom), I suggested to Ian that we invite the UK-based poet Angela Szczepaniak to join the December 13th, 2020 show. I had just finished editing Angela’s third poetry collection for DC books, and I knew it would be great to hear her read from it.
|00:27:09||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, December 2020:||She lectures in creative writing at the University of Surrey, and she has a new book coming out soon called The Nerves Center. So please welcome Angela Szczepaniak.|
|00:27:18||Audio Recording, Angela Szczepaniak, Words and Music, December 2020:||Thank you so much, Ian. And thank you for having me. It’s really lovely to be here from London very late at night right now, for me. Really nice to meet you all too. So, I’ll be reading from my forthcoming book, The Nerves Center, which is a long narrative poem about a performer in the midst of stage fright while on stage and attempting to give a performance. And each act in the sequence of the long poem she, the performer is trying to speak and what she actually says, which takes a form of sound poems. The sounds poems are comprised, I guess I should say, of recordings of panic attacks, that I played into transcription software, which then assigned kind of letters and phrases and words-ish, to it. It wasn’t very good at transcribing, which was very helpful when I was reshaping them into sound poems for the page. What didn’t really occur to me until now – this is my first reading of the work or from this book –[Cough] excuse me – is that I am essentially going to be reenacting lots of panic attacks that I once had [Laugh] long ago, which is a kind of exciting night, I guess, for everyone. [Cough] Excuse me.
|00:28:40||Jason Camlot:||It seemed especially appropriate for the Zoom stage, which might add its own sonic glitches through wavering connectivity. I was excited to hear what the planned silences in the poems would sound like on Zoom. And I was just excited to see Angela, since it had been a while since we’d zoomed, because she had contracted the COVID virus some months before and had been knocked out of commission for quite a while, now.
|00:29:03||Audio Recording, Angela Szczepaniak, Words and Music, December 2020:||I suppose also I should say that panic attack-wise, I very helpfully caught a virus a while ago, which results in me coughing constantly. So that’s what you’re going to hear for a lot of those kind of breathy sound poems. It’s just going to be replaced by coughing today. [Coughs] Excuse me. There are ten acts all together and each one maps onto a specific self-help strategy for managing anxiety and performance anxiety. [Coughs] Excuse me. I will keep this short also given the cough. So The Nerves Center, a novel in performance anxiety. The nerves center in 10 acts, the nerves center in 131 stanzas 2,417 fantic utterances and tonight, especially for you all 9, 381 coughs – and I’m guessing on that. [Angela begins performing] Act one. Act natural. Be yourself. /Speaker stands alone at microphone pin neat, polite,/ Serenity slipping through finger twitchers./Speaker ready self opens mouth. Silence. / Mouth opens this time with resolve./ Silence snaps jaws shut. Speaker opens steady mouth. Finally./ [Exhaling] [Coughing] Regroup reapproach. [Exhaling] [Coughing] Speaker back steps, wheezes, a casual graveyard whistle./ Shuffles a soft shoe, sidles up microphone adjacent to take it by surprise. [Exhaling] [Coughing]
|00:31:19||Jason Camlot:||Angela continued performing, despite the discomfort, from several other acts in The Nerves Centre, as we all listened intently to a combination of breathing, coughing, and rich descriptions that frame the staged readings within a vaudevillian kind of world. Angela’s book is very funny, and remarkable for its acceptance without judgement of so many failures in speech, for the sense of hope that each act brings, and for the deep compassion the book shows for anyone who may be struggling to find their voice, for anyone trying to speak and be heard. And here we were, sitting in our own isolated sets, listening to a performance of anxiety and disarticulation that was both deliberate and real, highly performative and absolutely involuntary, at the same time.|
|00:32:11||Audio Recording, Angela Szczepaniak, Words and Music, December 2020:||I am going to stop there. Thank you everyone for listening. And, were it not for many, many coughing fits I would continue, but I think you get the idea [Laughs] of what this is like. Thank you.
|00:32:26||Jason Camlot:||In many ways, it was the most pandemicky performance imaginable. Painful, beautiful, absurd. It made perfect sense.
|00:32:34||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, December 2020:||And thank you so much for coming. I should tell everybody, Angela’s been telling us a little bit about living with COVID in the UK, which sounds pretty intense with Starbucks open and everything else open and lots of people catching it. And it’s one in the morning for you. So I thank you very much for joining us tonight.|
|00:32:50||Audio Recording, Angela Szczepaniak, Words and Music, December 2020:||Thank you. Thank you so much, everyone for listening to that.|
|00:32:54||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, December 2020:||And if you wanna catch some more of that, I think The Nerves Center is coming out this winter at some point.|
|00:32:58||Audio Recording, Angela Szczepaniak, Words and Music, December 2020:
|Yeah. Thank you.|
|00:33:01||Jason Camlot:||[Audio Clip: Fastforwarding Tape Sound] Alright, let’s speed ahead a bit. Lots of shows happened between December 2020 and the special Words and Music Show – SpokenWeb Symposium edition held in May 2021. February 21st, 2021 for Black History Month, we reprised a screening of the Sala Rossa Black Writers Out Loud show, now with Roen Higgins’s performance restored so that all four sets could be viewed together.
|00:33:25||Audio Recording, Roen Higgins, Black Writers Out Loud, Words and Music, November 2020:||[Roen Higgins performing] Ware shell shocked, numb, sick and tired./These are the symptoms of PTSD whether we march, kneel, or speak./ Our voices are unheard in the streets, /every living thing on this earth retreats or reacts or stands still until the threat passes./ So please stop asking our people who are paralyzed to walk with you./ Stop judging others for not speaking up when their vocal chords are shot from screaming,/ Crying for babies, they never birthed yet feel the contractions of these now household names./ I can’t even say all their names as there are too many to remember, but their faces are etched in my mind/ with their mothers cry looped over this never ending soundtrack./ We are forever in labour with pain that our children will never belong or feel accepted,/ that they are guilty and being groomed from preschool to prison./ Before they leave their house they’re reminded by their mamas/ Stand tall, smile, look straight so you won’t come off hostile./ Keep your hands where it can be seen. Move slowly. Never, never run./ Don’t hang out on the streets and keep your hoodie off./ Comply. Answer their questions and cordially and politely./ Whatever you do, just stay calm and keep the camera rolling. Thank you. [End performance]
|00:35:02||Audio Recording, Roen Higgins, Black Writers Out Loud, Words and Music, November 2020:||Thank you everyone. Thank you for this opportunity. It’s an amazing time to have a show in these times to be able to come together even virtually while they say we socially distance, we do not distance socially.
|00:35:13||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Black Writers Out Loud, Words and Music, November 2020:||Thank you. Ronan|
|00:35:15||Jason Camlot:||[Start Music: Upbeat Accordion] Sunday March 21st the Words & Music Show is your online welcome to Spring. Tawhida Tanya Evanson is here with a new book. And catch poems, music, art and dance with: Emilie Zoey Baker (Australia), Raymond Jackson (New Orleans) , Marie-France Jacques (Montréal), Visual Art by Francis Caprani . Verse by Kelsey Nichole Brooks . Music by Ramela Arax Koumrouya.
|00:35:46||Various Speakers:||[Collage of audio of March 2021, Words and Music Show]
|00:36:59||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, March 2021:||Okay. Thanks folks. Goodnight for now.|
|00:37:01||Various Speakers:||Thank you very much Ian! Nice meeting you all. Yeah. Nice meeting you all. Likewise. See you next time. Cheers everyone. Thank you.|
|00:37:06||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, March 2021:
|Bye everyone, thank you. We’re going to go off air now. [End Music: Upbeat Accordion]|
|00:37:07||Jason Camlot:||[Start Music: Various Vocals and Musical Sounds] April 18th 2021. An absorbing evening featuring: verse by Sarah Wolfson , music by Geronimo Inutiq , art by Louise Belcourt, David Bateman as Dr. Sad , a new video by Marie-Josée Tremblay , words and music by Ian Ferrier, with a wealth of words, music, video and art, an online show to help us forget 8PM lockup (or is that lockdown?)|
|00:37:41||Various Voices:||[Collage of audio of audio from 18 April 2021 show] Should I start now? [Laugh] Yes, you are live! [Laugher] Okay. “They love to laugh together and drink and shop, especially when they were unhappy. She was much less happy than he was.” “In those days. We had a tool for taking the cords off beats. We grew everything. Then even our little toes. If our noses went missing, we replaced them with the most obliging webs.” “I love my grandfather. I hated my parents. He painted all the time. I hung around him.” [Guitar] “We’re just too many and we’re born too fast. Sarah and Will and James and Tina and Ian and John and Michael and Eric and Ty and Sarah, Beth, and Mary.” Bye. Take good care. Bye. Goodnight everyone.
|00:38:46||Jason Camlot:||So now we’re entering May 2021, and the entire Concordia SpokenWeb Team is deep into planning and delivering the annual SpokenWeb Symposium, which, for the second year in a row, was supposed to bring everyone to Montreal to share work, but which, again, had to take place online. The Symposium, with the theme “Listening, Sound, Agency” was a great success, with over 30 panels (so nearly 100 papers presented) by scholars and students from all over the world who were interested in exploring intersections between literary studies and sound studies. The Symposium was great, and then the Summer Sound Institute, filled with all kinds of workshops and research showcases, was also great. But, with all of that done, I was extremely excited to host a special edition of the Words and Music Show, where anyone from the Symposium, or from our research network, could share a poem, a story, a song, or a joke. We sent out a call trying to entice people to participate. And once we had a roster, I asked Ian to prepare one of his radio promo ads for the show.
|00:39:51||Ian Ferrier:||On Sunday May 23rd Wired on Words partners with SpokenWeb to present a special edition of the Words and Music show.
|00:39:56||Jason Camlot:||If this had been a live show, it would have taken place at the Casa Del Popolo, longtime home of the Words and Music Show. Instead, we were online again. Still, it was as close as we would come, that summer, to hanging out, joking around, being silly and creative, together.
|00:40:12||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||Yeah. We have a bunch of different performances from members of the SpokenWeb network. And this is really – it doesn’t replace the gathering and party that we would’ve had if we’d been able to all gather together in Montreal, but it’s meant to have the fun feel of that kind of gathering.
|00:40:32||Jason Camlot:||Poet and Simon Fraser University PhD student Cole Mash, hosted it in a way that made it all feel, at times, like we really were at the Casa together.
|00:40:41||Audio Recording, Cole Mash, Words and Music, May 2021:||I’m just turning my video off so I have a better connection and then kinda having a drink. But yeah! Welcome to the Words and Music show SpokenWeb edition. I personally have actually never seen this show but I’m really honoured and privileged to be able to host it and be a part of it. I hear it’s a pretty good show. We’ve got – we have about 10 or so lucky people who have signed up for tonight’s event. So can everyone please turn their cameras off? [Pause] Okay, great. Everyone turn their mics on. [Pause] Everyone say “Words and Music” all at the same time and see how that goes. [Various voices overlapping: “Words and Music”] All right. All right. That was pretty good actually. I got to hear quite a few people. That was nice. OK. Everyone turn their cameras back on, but make a weird face when you turn your camera back on. [Pause] [Laughter] All right. Very nice. Very nice. So now that I know you’re all listening…
|00:41:49||Jason Camlot:||[Start Audio Clip: Jason Camlot Archival Performance] My own contribution to the show is to play a clip from the archive of me performing a song at a Words and Music show that took place nearly 20 years earlier.
|00:42:00||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||So thanks so much Cole. And it’s great to be back on the pin screen. [End Audio Clip: Jason Camlot Archival Performance] And, it seemed appropriate really to –rather than to do something new since we’ve been spending so much time with Ian’s archive of shows– to dig into that and to play something that – play a performance that I did back in 2003. And I was thinking about this– and this is what happens when you listen back into an archive, especially if you find yourself in it. Even if you don’t, if you were at a show or whatever– but I’m thinking 2003, that means my son was probably around the same age as Cole’s son is now. I think of Deana Fong and I think of some of my colleagues and friends now who are starting families and that’s sort of where I was at in 2003, actually, my son was probably a year and a half and my daughter was just born probably about a month before this show. And I chose to play a song that I’ve just been singing in the backyard with my daughter no less than a couple weeks ago. So she’s 16 now and taught herself guitar during COVID and has been writing songs herself. And so we’re sharing our own compositions with each other. And so this is one that I taught her and that she’s sang along with. So it’s from the Words and Music show, April 27th, 2003.
|00:43:13||Jason Camlot:||It was fun to introduce this clip, set it up, and listen to it so many years later with new friends and students.
|00:43:19||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, 2003||And we’re just gonna play one more song. I want to thank Ian for lending me his guitar. This song is called Derbyland, and Kenny’s gonna be playing arango, which is made of an Armadillo.|
|00:43:45||Audio Recording, Kenny Smilovich, 2003:||A dead Armadillo. [Laugh].|
|00:43:47||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, 2003:||Yeah. If you hear some screaming, that’s the Armadillo. [Start Music: Guitar]
|00:44:07||Jason Camlot:||[Music Continues: Guitar] It was especially fun and moving to have my old friend and music collaborator tune into the show and to hear his response to a recording that he never knew existed. [End Music: Guitar].|
|00:44:17||Audio Recording, Kenny Smilovich, 2003:||You know, I’m trying to think back to that time and everything’s a blur, but –|
|00:44:22||Jason Camlot:||Musician, Kenny Smilovich|
|00:44:24||Audio Recording, Kenny Smilovich, Words and Music, May 2021:||– I don’t remember, like how did that end up recorded? Was that sort of the plan or did it just happen that someone recorded it?|
|00:44:34||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||So Ian recorded pretty much every Words and Music Show almost since its inception.|
|00:44:40||Audio Recording, Kenny Smilovich, Words and Music, May 2021:
|Wow. That’s amazing.|
|00:44:41||Jason Camlot:||This was the longest online Words and Music Show of the pandemic period, by far.|
|00:44:46||Various Voices:||[Audio Collage of several performances from the May 2021 show.] [Start Music: Guitar] “When the artist takes matter and builds fence around it in the name of the line, or takes matter into their own hands and abstracts, what results is a manifestation of power in the sense of imposition and not in the sense of strength.” “This poem’s called ‘Asking the Spoon to Runaway Takes Courage: A spoons work is never done. They sit folded in the time waiting as we all do to be picked up.” I should have predicted the death of this city. I couldn’t predict it. Only there had been no such creepy blocks.” Pools and pavement in black ice, random stones steam, faintly. Lime water and liquorish light. Think how the black dust Beth made men dance.” “I have no words, officer lay my tongue. You stole each one in a scamper for escape. When he begged me when your men with the gavelbang voices hounded me. Yes.” “Using my full song to the wise intoxicating yarl and thrall alike. I know the rooms, the words of white. I know the words of flaming light. The words that still the sea at midnight.” [End Music: Guitar] [Start Music: Singing] “I see my from the west down to the east. Any day now. Any day…. [Fade Out Singing] [Start Music: Guitar and Singing] “All of my friends in a plastic, all around jumping train, track, silver effects, bang all back, sleep on a bench in a park on your birthday….” [Fade Out Singing]
|00:47:11||Jason Camlot:||And yet even after two hours, we were happy to linger, chat, and debrief.|
|00:47:17||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||Well, I guess at this point we’ve been together for two hours. It’s gone really quickly and it’s been so enjoyable. I just want to thank, first of all, Cole and Ian for hosting tonight. And Ian, like I said earlier also for just lending us The Words and Music stage for this evening and really to everyone for taking the chance to share something tonight, it’s –I think as Mike put it – it’s a safe environment that we’re trying to create both in terms of sharing ideas, concepts, methods, in our research and our collaborative practice, but also our creativity. And this is just an extension of that. And, since we haven’t been able to join in person this year, it just felt like it would be great to have a space where we could just share some stuff and other parts of ourselves. And I think that really happened tonight. And I’m just so happy that it did.
|00:48:11||Jason Camlot:||To help make the signoff period feel less harsh and abrupt, we engaged in an exercise of imagining each other offline, after the show as a way of saying goodbye, but still keeping each other in mind.
|00:48:23||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||I will say finally, when Katherine and I had a workshop recently, we were sort of trying to address the issue of like, well, where do people go after they disappear from Zoom? You could spend time together and then suddenly you’re in a shared space and then you’re no longer in the shared space. So maybe as a way to lessen the blow of departure I’m gonna suggest that we do the same thing again and ask you, what’s the next thing you’re gonna hear, or the next thing you’re gonna do after leaving us tonight? Katherine, you wanna share what you’re gonna hear next?|
|00:48:58||Audio Recording, Katherine McLeod, Words and Music, May 2021:||Yeah, sure. I’m gonna be picking up my little cat, who’s been hanging out and we’re gonna have a little chat. And then, I’m gonna hear the creaking of the door. And I also just feel like putting on some music and continuing to just move and stretch. I feel like it really made me want –I said this after the last time,I was gonna go dance –but I feel like just like moving and stretching, just some music. That’s what I’m gonna do next. Yeah.|
|00:49:27||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||I’m gonna go see if my daughter wants to play guitar outside. [Laughs] How about you, Kenny? What’s the next sound you’re gonna hear?|
|00:49:36||Audio Recording, Kenny Smilovich, Words and Music, May 2021:||I’ll probably have a few bites of dinner and then head downstairs and see if I can remember the chords to “Derbyland” by Tarango.|
|00:49:43||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||[Laughs]. Awesome. That’d be great. Klara?|
|00:49:48||Audio Recording, Klara du Plessis, Words and Music, May 2021:||I’m definitely gonna get some ice cream, which means I’ll be opening the fridge and there will be a suction sound from the fridge. [Laughs].|
|00:49:55||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||[Laughs] Nick, what’s the next sound you’re gonna hear after you leave us?|
|00:50:01||Audio Recording, Nick Beauchesne,
Words and Music, May 2021:
|Well my cat’s meowing and I have to keep grinding at my dissertation. So –|
|00:50:05||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||[Laughs] Some grinding, just grinding. [Laughs]|
|00:50:08||Audio Recording, Nick Beauchesne,
Words and Music, May 2021:
|– not for too long. I’m gonna go do something fun after, but that’s when next,|
|00:50:14||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||How about you Faith?|
|00:50:15||Audio Recording, Faith Paré, Words and Music, May 2021:||Probably the sound of my roommate and I chatting. I’m probably gonna watch a movie tonight, so maybe some horror movie screams and we have some Indian food on the way. So like that kind of straw sound, you know, sucking up like the last bits of like mango lassi I’m very excited for that particular thing. Yeah.|
|00:50:35||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||That’s great. Great array of sounds. Ali, how about you? What’s the next sound you’re gonna hear?|
|00:50:41||Audio Recording, Ali Barillaro, Words and Music, May 2021:||So probably similar to other people. I don’t know if you can see her, but my cat over there will probably wake up. So I’ll probably hear her – she’s right there. And probably my own excitement over going to eat some food. So sounds of excitement.|
|00:50:57||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||Felicity?|
|00:50:58||Audio Recording, Felicity Tayler, Words and Music, May 2021:||I’m gonna open the door to this room and walk down my very creepy hallway. And I missed somebody’s bedtime. So either I will hear silent breathing or I will hear a little voice that says “mama?”.|
|00:51:17||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||Judee, how about you?|
|00:51:19||Audio Recording, Judee Burr, Words and Music, May 2021:||Yeah. Without you all, it’ll just be undiluted fan noises in this apartment with some like thum of traffic. Just steady cars. And I’ll probably walk outside. So I’ll get some door creak and maybe even a cricket.|
|00:51:36||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||And Cole?|
|00:51:37||Audio Recording, Cole Mash, Words and Music, May 2021:||Well, there’s three unbathed children awaiting me, so there’s gonna be screaming most likely. And then, after that, I hope silence.|
|00:51:48||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, May 2021:||So it makes it a lot easier – not easy – but a lot easier to say goodbye to you all now. Thanks for a wonderful evening, everyone. And, we’ll see you soon at one of the events this week I hope. Take care, everyone.|
|00:51:59||Audio Recording, Kenny Smilovich, Words and Music, May 2021:||Thanks, Jason!|
|00:52:01||Jason Camlot:||That particular show did feel as close to a live encounter over Zoom as I’ve had. The livest online event I’ve ever attended. Since we’re just about out of time, let me take you to the last Zoom conversation of what we thought, we hoped, [Start Music: Jay Alexander Brown singing “Beyond beyond”] might be the last online Words and Music Show of the pandemic period, September 19th, 2021. [End Music: Jay Alexander Brown singing “Beyond beyond”]. We thought that might be it, that we would never see each other again, in the flat, tiled, and often inaudible world of Zoom. We spoke to each other as if we were preparing to teleport into another dimension.|
|00:52:47||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, September 2021:||I’m so excited to imagine that we can start, collaborating, and joining together and seeing things in real life.|
|00:52:57||Audio Recording, Katherine McLeod, Words and Music, September 2021:||It also makes one realize just what sort of community there has been created through the online shows. So I felt that through listening to John’s piece, that it actually – it would be different to hear that on the stage. And it’s very intimate that we are able to gather here to listen to it here tonight.|
|00:53:16||Audio Recording, Jay Alexander Brown, Words and Music, September 2021:||And it feels like it’s maintained a sense of community and a sense of continuity throughout the pandemic to have these. It’s – in my opinion, it’s not the same as the vibe you have in a room full of people. But the fact that this show didn’t just disappear off the face of the earth and has kept us all tethered to the phenomenon called Montreal – cuz you know, barely leaving the house, especially last year when I was more paranoid about COVID – I could have been anywhere. Who even knows if you’re in Montreal.|
|00:53:52||Audio Recording, John Sweet, Words and Music, September 2021:||I’m just – I’m concerned though – if we go back to doing like real live performances, what are you gonna do Jason? I’m concerned. [Laughs]|
|00:54:04||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, September 2021:||I only exist here in this square. I mean – I will still be here if ever you return 20, 30 years from now. You know, if you decide to come back, here I will be.|
|00:54:15||Audio Recording, John Sweet, Words and Music, September 2021:||And you’ll look exactly the same.|
|00:54:17||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, September 2021:||[Laughs] Exactly. Yeah.|
|00:54:18||Audio Recording, Unknown Speaker, Words and Music, September 2021::||Jason isn’t real, John.|
|00:54:24||Audio Recording, Jay Alexander Brown, Words and Music, September 2021:||Jason’s gonna show up at Cafe Resonance as a cardboard cut out.|
|00:54:29||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, September 2021:
|[Laughs] That’s right. Katherine’s gonna be carrying me on a stick.|
|00:54:31||Audio Recording, Various Voices, Words and Music, October 2021:||Audience chatter and background noise|
|00:54:44||Jason Camlot:||After having co-hosted the Words and Music show online for nearly two years, Ian invited me to perform at the first live show since March 2020 – a show that we thought would be a return to live events on a regular basis.
|00:54:56||Audio Recording, Various Voices, Words and Music, October 2021:||Audience chatter and background noise.|
|00:55:10||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, October 2021:||Good evening, everyone and welcome to our first live show in 18 months. Holy crap. [Audience Applause]. I mean, I look back at that whole time and it feels like a giant hallucination and I wonder where I was I and what was going on. And it’s so nice to see people in a room and to be able to present things for them and to actually jam with other musicians from time to time. All of this stuff is so great. So thank you so much for coming tonight. It’s really nice to have everybody here.
|00:55:42||Jason Camlot:||I was quite anxious about participating in this show, not so much about giving a reading as about being in a room with lots of people. Anxious, but very excited as well. I had to arrive a bit late and so I sat in the back of the room for most of the first set. Then at intermission, I moved up to join some friends who were seated in the audience. [Start Music] It felt great to sit at a table and chat with people. I had a new book of poems that was about to come out. So I printed up some flyers that the press had given me and handed them out to people during intermission. Then I went up to the mic in front of people and read.
|00:56:17||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, Words and Music, October 2021:||[Audience Chatter and Instrument Tuning Background Noise Throughout] Welcome to our fabulous second set. For this set we’re very, very lucky. When we started this project, the project had going online at the beginning of COVID. I was very lucky to have help from Jason Camlot who’s a fine poet and also one of the core people in a project called SpokenWeb, which is taking audio literature and making a databases up so that people can study it in 30 years and say, wow, those people were amazing, whatever they were. And he’s got a new book, which is just coming out called Vlarf. The reason you have those sheets on your table is – the books not quite out yet, but if you have one of these sheets, you get a big discount in the book, so you can get it later. Please welcome Jason Camlot. [Audience Applause].
|00:57:16||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, October 2021:||Thanks so much, Ian, thank you everyone. It’s so exciting to be with other people.|
|00:57:22||Audience Member:||Yes! [Clapping]|
|00:57:25||Audio Recording, Jason Camlot, Words and Music, October 2021:||Let’s just give ourselves a hand for having made it through the last two years, and as Ian said, we’ve been doing the Words and Music Show on Zoom. I had a background of the Casa, always on my screen as I was hosting it from my basement. And it’s just a great feeling to be listening with people and to have the opportunity to read tonight. [Reading poetry] They keep well in winter and sometimes like jagged mounds, they appear frozen in the lake ice. /And then they suffocate in shallow pits, are digested with wood and transform into charcoal and muck./ My botanical book speaks of exogenous stems plunged into lead./ I don’t in the least want to know what that means. /I prefer to understand them as the grounds trembling scales, the soil thus sung in coral shiver./ [Applause]|
|00:58:47||Jason Camlot:||[Audio of Words and Music Show Audience Plays Underneath] In listening back to the audio of those two most recent live Words and Music Shows, the last shows of 2021. It is amazing to hear just how noisy they are with movement, chatter, tumult.|
|00:59:18||Audio Recording, Words and Music, October 2021:
|[Audience Chatter and Musicians Tuning Instruments]|
|00:59:23||Jason Camlot:||[Audio or Words and Music Show Audience Plays Underneath] This was the buzz we had been trying to emulate in awkward attempts that were comically artificial due to latency, inappropriate amplitude, and bad timing. Awkward too, because that “venue buzz” as Ian called it, isn’t just background noise. Not really. It is the sound of affect in action. [Audience Clip Swells] The sound of a kind of responsive choreography that captures what it feels like. Maybe even what it means to be together at an event where people get up on stage and share something they made just for you. [End of Audience Audio] When I interviewed Ian for this podcast during the final days of 2021, it was clear that we had no idea where the next Words and Music Show would happen – in person, online, we didn’t know.|
|01:00:17||Ian Ferrier, 2021 interview||Hopefully this latest iteration of COVID is as not as dangerous as the ones before, but it sure is virulent from the looks of it. So I feel kind of lost about that. I’ve just – I just think that – I mean the first lockdown, I don’t know how it was for you. I found I was in a bit of shock just cuz I didn’t realize how much of my life had been based on going from thinking of something to making something, to putting that thing out and seeing how it lived in the world to going back and making something else, you know? That was the core of my creative practice and all of a sudden that was gone and I –and until we did those live shows, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. And it was like, oh yeah, we’re back on stage. And this feels so much better and it’s so much more present. It’s so much more focused. So, I’m gonna– I’m hoping that if we get stuck again, and I very much hope we don’t, but it looks like we probably will – that we can, that I can devise something more interesting to do with that time. Something that I enjoy doing as opposed to the feeling of being stuck indoors.|
|01:01:27||Jason Camlot:||We talked about how the past two years –and now this recent return to something like a lockdown in Quebec with bars, pubs and restaurants closed to in-person patrons – has taken its toll on the venues that have supported the Words and Music show over the years. La Vitrola (the venue where the Epique Voices show of March 10th, 2020 had taken place) was long gone. The Casa del Popolo had closed its showroom in March, 2020 and tried to make a go it as a shop for a while.|
|01:01:56||Ian Ferrier, 2021 interview||Well, it’s still kind of unfolding. At the moment, it sounds like the two partners in Casa and Sala who were partners themselves or breaking up and they’re running through all the troubles that involves at the same time as these venues that they ran together have basically closed down. Sala is still open, but I haven’t seen anything at Casa del Popolo since COVID happened. I hear the occasional rumour that there will be something in April, but I’m not, I’m not really sure. James Goddart is working there in the office now, so I occasionally ask him, but he doesn’t know either what’s gonna happen. And that would be tough because, for a lot of us in this neighbourhood, that was a place where we could always drop in and catch something or say hello to a friend or meet for coffee or for food or whatever. We did our Mile End Poets Festival – we did at least one or two nights there for almost 10 years too. So I really miss the place.|
|01:02:55||Jason Camlot:||And now in the first days of 2022, we have learned that the Ressonance Café, the venue that Ian turned to for the most recent live shows, is shutting down too. The Sala has managed to stay afloat in part through the kind of live streaming and recording sessions that we did for the Black Writers Out Loud show. Just a couple of days ago, CBC reporter, Fenn Mayes published a profile piece on venue covering the long history of the place and interviewing the staff and owners about what it means to them and how they’ve managed to keep going. It makes me a little anxious to read a story like this, which might just as easily be an obituary as a feel good profile piece under the current ongoing circumstances. But the article ends on a positive of note of sorts. The final line being quote, if these walls could talk, they’d sing close quote. I mean, at least didn’t report that the Sala was closing. Even if we could do the next show in person, where would that be? Ian doesn’t know, but not knowing what’s coming next, as far as pandemic circumstances are concerned, does not create even the slightest shiver of uncertainty in Ian about the Words and Music Show.|
|01:04:06||Ian Ferrier, 2021 interview||I think, well, let’s go around the world and find [Unknown Name] from France or something, or track down some people we really like to hear and would normally not be able to bring, I think that’s one quality of it. And another quality is on the shows online. I think it would be worthwhile getting people talking, among, to each other, at the beginning of the show or at the end or something like that, or intermission just to keep part of that spirit alive. Cuz I just notice people actually like to be with each other, and they like to talk and flirt and get huffy or nod or go through all the kinds of experiences they can go through with both with people they know and the joy of total strangers, not knowing who that person is and what they’re gonna bring. [Start Music: Guitar Instrumental, Ian Ferrier, “Rail Music”]|
|01:05:00||Jason Camlot:||There is a stubbornness of imagination. One might say a resilience of imagination to use a popular COVID period word that characterizes our continued willingness and will to keep creating, gathering, and sharing sounds and stories. It’s not so much that the Words and Music Shows must go on. It’s just a given. The show goes on.|
|01:05:32||Audio Recording, Ian Ferrier, “Rail Music”:||[Singing] You wake up, find yourself on a train, no memory of how you got on. No knowledge of where you’re going…[Music Instrumental Fades].|
|01:06:46||Hannah McGregor:||[Start Music: SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music] SpokenWeb is a monthly podcast produced by the SpokenWeb team as part of distributing the audio collected from (and created using) Canadian Literary archival recordings found at universities across Canada. Our producer this month is SpokenWeb Director Jason Camlot of Concordia University. Our podcast project manager and supervising producer is Judith Burr. Our episodes are transcribed by Kelly Cubbon. A special thanks to Ian Ferrier, and all of the hosts and organizers, artists, performers, and audience members who have engaged in online literary events over the past two years, when we have been unable to gather in person. To find out more about Spokenweb visit: spokenweb.ca and subscribe to The Spokenweb Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you may listen. And if you love us, let us know! Rate us and leave a comment on Apple Podcasts or say hi on our social media @SpokenWebCanada. Stay tuned to your podcast feed later this month for ShortCuts with Katherine McLeod, mini stories about how literature sounds. [End Music: SpokenWeb Podcast Theme Music]|
Jason Camlot is the principal investigator and director of The SpokenWeb, a SSHRC-funded partnership that focuses on the history of literary sound recordings and the digital preservation and presentation of collections of literary audio. His recent critical works include Phonopoetics: The Making of Early Literary Recordings (Stanford 2019), and the co-edited collections Unpacking the Personal Library: The Public and Private Life of Books (with Jeffrey Weingarten | Wilfrid Laurier, 2022), and CanLit Across Media: Unarchiving the Literary Event (with Katherine McLeod | McGill Queen’s, 2019). He is also the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, Vlarf (McGill Queen’s, 2021). Jason is Professor of English and Tier I Concordia University Research Chair in Literature and Sound Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
Words and Music Shows of the Pandemic Period:
This episode contains sounds from most of the Words and Music Shows held between 29 March 2020, when it was forced to move online, through to the return to a “live” in person show at Café Resonance held on 24 October 2021.
We are grateful to everyone whose writing, music, art, ideas, and voices contributed to this episode. This episode features the voices of many wonderful performers who have performed in pandemic period online Words and Music Shows, including Alexei Perry Cox, Ali Barillaro, Angela Szczepaniak, Cole Mash, Fabrice Koffy, Faith Paré, Ian Ferrier, Jason Camlot, Jason Selman, Jay Alexander Brown, John Sweet, Judee Burr, Katherine McLeod, Kenny Smilovich, Klara Du Plessis, Mike O’Driscoll, Nicholas Beauchesne, Nisha Coleman, Rachel McCrum, Roen Higgins, and Tawhida Tanya Evanson. Many other voices and sounds from the online shows are integrated into short audio-collage portraits of the events.
A full list of the shows and performers that inspired the episode is as follows:
22 March 2020, Ian Ferrier posted this announcement about the upcoming Words and Music Show:
Tonight’s show is not canceled, only postponed. We are collecting tracks from all the performers who were scheduled to present, and preparing the way to present them live in this group sometime this upcoming week
Stay tuned and stay safe!
29 March 2020
Brian Bartlett, Lune très belle (Frédérique Roy. Eugénie Jobin), Alexei Perry-Cox. Nisha Coleman, Sava (Dina Cindrić, Sarah Albu, Antonia Branković, Sara Rousseau).
19 April 2020
Liz Howard, Liana Cusmano, Ian Ferrier, Lauren DeRoller, Mary St-Amand Williamson.
17 May 2020
Maureen Hynes, Cassidy McFadzean, John Arthur Sweet , Eryn Dace Trudell, Louise Campbell.
21 June 2020
Moe Clark, Taqralik Partridge, Cara Lessard Cole, David Bateman, Jay Alexander Brown, Angela Hibbs.
19 July 2020 (Special SpokenWeb Words and Music Show)
Members of the SpokenWeb network.
23 August 2020
Silvervest, Faith Paré, Cole Mash, Ali Barillaro, S.B. Goncarova.
20 September 2020
Rachel McCrum and Jonathan Lamy, Robin Durnford, Greg Santos, PC Vandall.
18 October 2020
John Arthur Sweet, Carolyn Marie Souaid, Erin Scott, Fortner Anderson and the Growler Chorus, and the winners of the Lawnchair Soirée videopoem contest.
15 November 2020 (“Live” from Sala Rossa)
Fabrice Koffy, Faith Paré, Jason (Blackbird) Selman.
13 December 2020
Roen Higgins, Naomi Steinberg, Klara du Plessis, Angela Szczepaniak,Tatiana Koroleva.
21 February 2021
Roen Higgins, Fabrice Koffy, Faith Paré, Jason Selman.
21 March 2021
Tawhida Tanya Evanson, Emilie Zoey Baker, Raymond Jackson, Marie-France Jacques, Francis Caprani, Kelsey Nichole Brooks, Ramela Arax Koumrouya
18 April 2021
Sarah Wolfson, Geronimo Inutiq, Louise Belcourt, David Bateman, Marie-Josée Tremblay, Ian Ferrier.
23 May 2021 (The SpokenWeb Show)
Featured performer: Oana Avasilichioaei, and many special guests.
1 August 2021
RC Weslowski, April Ford, Natasha Perry-Fagant, Poet Riley Palanca, Nathanael Larochette (of Musk Ox).
22 Aug 2021
Jerome Ramcharitar, Marc-Alexandre Chan, Samara Garfinkle, Shawn Thicke, Tracy Yeung, Hosted by Guest Curator Avleen K Mokha, with backup from Ian Ferrier and Jason Camlot.
19 September 2021
Rachel McCrum, Jay Alexander Brown, John “Triangles” Stuart, John Arthur Sweet, For Body and Light.
24 October 2021 (Back in Person at Resonance Café)
Silvervest (Nicolas Caloia, Kim Zombik), Jason Camlot, Dark Sky Preserve (Ian Ferrier and Louise Campbell), John Stuart.