A renowned Canadian poet will be reading unpublished work and delving into his 40-year catalogue in an upcoming virtual reading for a Nanaimo audience.
On Oct. 24 Nanaimo’s Wordstorm Society of the Arts presents a reading by Toronto poet Robert Priest. Priest is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry for children and adults, as well as plays, novels and music albums.
He said the variety in his writing comes naturally.
“I came of age in the time of the Beatles and so my models of what kind of oeuvre a person can create were anything from Maxwell’s Silver Hammer to ‘Yes I’m lonely. I want to die,'” Priest said. “It was an era that didn’t put things quite so much in a box.”
Priest’s next book of poetry, Full Circle Smile, is set to come out in 2022 but he’ll be providing a sneak peek during the reading. He said there are a lot of love poems in the book, as well as material that touches on aging and political commentary.
“There are a lot of pretty, let’s say, disappointed or cynical poems about political issues, world order and my outlook on things and then there are poems that I like to invoke hope,” Priest said. “So there are poems where dipping into my imagination I try to come up with scenarios or almost mock suggestions or even prayerful pieces that I hope are uplifting and inspiring.”
Priest said he’ll be reading poems that are “immediate and impactful” in a range of styles including one-line aphorisms and formal English sonnets, “which I was definitely schooled not to do in this modern era.”
Priest said he’ll also be happy to discuss his work and answer questions.
“It shouldn’t be just a one-way vector,” he said. “Back-and-forth is good and I’m really happy if I can encourage someone’s creativity. So it’s all part of the job for me.”
Here is a sample of Priest’s poetry: One Day I Predict from his 2013 book, Previously Feared Darkness.
One day I predict
We’ll be amazed
At our strength
We will look at one another
Astonished and say
We didn’t think we could do this
One day the path will be so clear
We will all say: it’s obvious
And we will hardly believe
We couldn’t see the way before
One day I predict
We’ll have this great true story to tell
A kind of anti-Iliad
For the coming age
Involving all of us
Who think we are not warriors
And all of us who fear
We are not brave
WHAT’S ON … Wordstorm Society of the Arts presents a Zoom reading by Robert Priest on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. No admission charge. Click here to register.