Rusty's World

Rusty’s Reading List 2017 | July 24, 2017


I have known Shane for about ten years now, ever since he asked if the CapSlam team would open for him at the Mercury Lounge back in 2007. He struck me right away as a genuine, honest, caring, strong person. He was generous and obviously talented.
The years since then have done nothing to change my opinion of him.
I have seen him sparingly over that time… maybe six or seven times in that span… and the last time was in 2014 when my team had just finished competing at CFSW in Victoria. It had been an turbulent and emotional year, but it also marked the first time I was booked for solo shows out in B.C., where I was born and raised. I did a show in Victoria and had one booked in Vancouver.
At that time the people at VanSlam had been approached by a rep from the Vancouver Opera about doing a show that combined poetry and opera as a way of promoting their brand new production – an Operatic production of Shane Koyczan’s ‘novel in verse’, Stickboy. I was already booked for that evening but when Chris Gilpin asked if we could convert my feature into this other show, I was thrilled to comply.
We worked with members of the Opera and a skilled pianist to create new works that combined poetry with opera and music. In my case that became a merging of ‘The Stranger’ with the singing of ‘Whither Must I Wander’. It was one of the most memorable performances that I have ever done.
(It was filmed but apparently lost, unfortunately.)

It also gave me the chance to catch up with Shane. The world had really opened up to him at that point. The idea that they had made an opera based on his book was incredible. I was very happy for him.

Having said THAT, I had never actually read it. Somewhat oddly, actually. I had a copy of ‘Visiting Hours’, his previous poetry book, but I have never read that either. How did that happen? I am a big fan of Shane’s work and own multiple CDs… maybe that was it. When I think is Shane, I think about LISTENING to him.

I ordered Stickboy. It went into the pile. I just finished it.

Uh, wow.

What powerful writing. It is Shane’s style, certainly, but the truth comes through in a way that isn’t possible when writing about something you CARE about rather than something you ARE.

Poetic biography doesn’t get better than this.


Books read in 2017

Stickboy – Shane Koyczan
On Equilibrium – John Ralston Saul
ARC Poetry Magazine #78
The Anthropocalypse is Nigh… – Shayne Avec I Grec
The Associate – Phillip Margolin
Peter F. Yacht Club #25
Forth-seventh birthday – rob mclennan
Li’l Bastard – David McGimpsey
Love is a Tree you Planted – Mary Pinkoski
oratorealis #3
Muybridge’s Horses – Rob Winger
Trouble Boys – The True Story of the Replacements – Bob Mehr
A Magical Mystery Tour – Inside the Coach House Press
Arc Poetry Magazine #80
Dancing Alone – William Hawkins
Peter F. Yacht Club #24
Canticles I (MMXVI) – George Elliott Clarke
Touch the Donkey #9
Touch the Donkey #12
Arc Poetry Magazine #81
The Emperor of Water Clocks – Yusef Komunakaa
Warhorses – Yusef Komunyakaa
The Mosquito Coast – Paul Theroux
Guff Ink – Wes Ryan
Hurting God – Rita Ann Higgins


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