On November 29, Shift & Switch launched at Supermarket in Toronto. What a powerfully lovely evening!! The launch featured all Mercurial fall titles, with readings by Gary Barwin, derek beaulieu, Mark Miller, Richard Truhlar, and Betsy Warland as well as Shift & Switch contributors Hugh Thomas, Gregory Betts, Suzanne Zelazo, Mark Truscott, Geoffrey Hlibchuk, Sharon Harris, gustave morin, Trevor Speller, Rachel Zolf, and Rob Read.
The first set of readers (Barwin, beaulieu, Miller, Truhlar, Warland) gave great insight and sample to their new books. Info about these books can be found on Mercury’s website.
The second set featured the Shift & Switchers. derek and I hosted the readings Pen and Teller style: I spoke, derek stood quietly (amusingly) onstage. We had a lot of fun with our silly hosting improv.
Hugh Thomas commenced the readings with “Launch Party,” a crowd-pleaser he’d written specifically to celebrate the launch of the book. Gregory Betts also delighted the audience by accompanying his sung version of the Canadian cities anagram (from the anthology and from If Language) with the guitar. Was that to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land?” Suzanne Zelazo chased this with a poem excerpted from the anthology, and Mark Truscott shared an anthology (and Said Like Reeds or Things) poem as well as new work.
Geoffrey Hlibchuk prefaced his reading by referring to the anthology by its nickname Shizzle and Swizzle (which reminded me of another nickname I’ve heard frequently: Scratch ‘n’ Sniff). Sharon Harris then read a new Fun with ‘Pataphysics. gustave morin read my favourite piece of the evening, a constraint-based love poem featuring the words most frequently employed in English.
Trevor Speller read “famous people./” from the anthology, as requested by derek. Rachel Zolf shared work from Human Resources, and Rob Read finished the evening with some Daily Treated Spam.
I’d given the contributors a rather tight (and unreasonable) stage limit of three minutes each, due to the volume of readers. I was so impressed with everyone for bringing their game, performing with grace and ingenuity, and sticking to the requested time. It was such a sweet sampling of the anthology, quickfire, with varied performances and texts.
Shift & Switch is now making its way into the world, and trickled responses are beginning to leak back to me. I’m greatly looking forward to the dialogue this book (and the many other anthologies from this year, including Post-Prairie, The New Canon, and Open Field) will elicit surrounding why/how/who we anthologize, submission/solicitation concerns, definition and diversity, and the many other topics sure to be raised!
I also can’t wait to hear how the Calgary Shift & Switch launch goes next Tuesday!