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Blaine Greenwood among Southern Alberta poets “Bearing Witness” to different world views at symposium

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Art inspires art. So when local poet Blaine Greenwood went to the Glenbow Museum to see travelling exhibitions of French artist Henri Matisse, Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali and Belgian artist Rene Magritte, he was immediately inspired by their unique world views during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Blaine Greenwood officially releases his second book of poetry, Feb. 15  at Andy’s Place at the University of Lethbridge. Photo by Richard Amery
Greenwood just released his second book of poetry “The False Mirror”, inspired by the works of those artists. He will release the book during “Bearing Witness,” a special poetry symposium, Feb. 15 at Andy’s Place (AH100) beginning at 12:15, featuring seven southern Alberta poets including Richard Stevenson, Ali Riley, cowboy poet Ken Sears, Calgary poet Vivian Hansen, Ian McAdam, performance poet Erin Dingle Adam exploring the theme of Bearing Witness until about 2:30 p.m.. Each poet will have about 10 minutes to showcase their works.


“The theme is general enough that all of the poets interpret it differently,” Greenwood said, noting after a break, he will officially be launching his book at 6 p.m. at the U of L bookstore.
“If you can’t make sense of what Blaine Greenwood is saying, then in 10 minutes it will be different. Part of what poetry means depends on the perception of the reader. You bring your own experiences. You may get something completely out of it that I might not have even thought of it. We have seven poets with seven different world views,” he continued.


 His poetry was inspired by the three different world views of three wildly different arts working in the same time period.


“All three of them were working during the Second World War. So when you thunk about that a lot of them are about the chaos of war,” he said.
“Dali interpreted reality through dreams. Dali spoke a lot with Sigmund Freud about the interpretation of dreams. So when you realize that, you realize they (his paintings) make a lot of sense,” he said.
“And everyone dreams, so people can identify with that,” Greenwood continued, adding art, both visual like painting, and literary art is subjective, so everyone brings their own interpretations to art according to their own life experiences.


“Matisse was inspired by Muslim poet Rumi from the twelfth century and he lived in Morocco during the Second World War, so there is a lot of mid eastern and African  imagery in his works. He was inspired by the casbahs there,” Greenwood observed.
“Magritte is known for his (painting of a) gigantic blue eye. All of his works were very monochromatic. He used really bright colours. He started as a graphic designer who designed posters and billboards,” Greenwood observed.

 Greenwood spent two years working on the poems and writing the book.
“I’m thankful to the Glenbow Museum,” he said, adding  it was important to  see the original works rather than just an image of the works online or in a book.
“I had an emotional connection to those paintings,” he said.

Now he has released his book, he plans on doing book fairs and festivals.


“Unless you are someone like Stephen King, who just has to release a book and it sell, you have to get out there and let people know about your book and build an audience,” he said, adding he applied to Word on the Street for this year.
 In the meantime, Greenwood is looking forward to being part of the poetry symposium.


“Richard Stevenson is writing about Africa, Ken Sears is a mix of  cowboy poetry and bar room gossip. Vivian Hansen is from Calgary and is exploring history and ancestry. Erin Dingle is a performance poet and slam poet. And Ian McAdam is an English professor who just started publishing poetry,” he outlined.


 In addition the poets, members of U of L arts magazine Whetstone will be in attendance to answer questions as well as members of a brand new poetry group at the University of Lethbridge.


 U of L English professor Wendy Faith was happy to organize this symposium, noting it could become an annual event if there is enough interest.
“There are so many talented poets in Southern Alberta, ” Faith said.


“There is a lot of diversity. We wanted range, but we also wanted accessibility, we didn’t want  anything that was too out there. We wanted a lot of different voices,” Faith continued.
 The event is open to the public and free to attend.

A version of this story appears in the Jan. 17, 2018 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/Shopper
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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