Next week, Memorial professor and acclaimed poet Mary Dalton will commit spontaneous readings for strangers and hand out books of poetry in St. John’s. Poet and filmmaker Marian Frances White will also participate in this project, wandering the city and giving her books to people she encounters.
It’s all part of the third annual Random Acts of Poetry, a nationwide literacy initiative sponsored by the Victoria READ Society and the Canada Council for the Arts. The event, which involves 39 poets in over 20 locations across the country, aims to encourage an appreciation of poetry and puts (free) books in the hands of people.
Professor Dalton, who has participated in previous years, says the event harkens back to the days of the wandering minstrel.
In the past, she has read in coffee shops and Fred’s Records, on the street, in the public library in Holyrood and on the CBC picket line. She has read to Jiffy cab drivers, people just off cruise ships and seniors in the grocery store.
“You never know what the reaction will be. Of course people are often wary, wondering ‘is this woman selling something?’ But it’s such a pleasure to see faces melt in surprise and delight,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it a third time if the reaction hadn’t been so wonderful.”
After reading a poem, poets hand out their own work. Some listeners could receive an advance copy of Professor Dalton’s newest book, Red Ledger, which is published by Vehicule Press and will be launched on Oct. 13 at LSPU Hall.
This year, a new component to the weeklong event will see poets read somewhere literacy is addressed. For instance, Professor Dalton will read at the Rabbittown Learners Program.
Random Acts of Poetry runs Oct. 2-8 – maybe somewhere near you.