Sunday, September 25, 2011

Poetry Slam at Ca' Tron

Gigi reads. Off to his right, the panel of 5 judges; to his left, the poets' score sheet.
I thought I was going to see the American poet Michael McClure read last night as part of the international event 100 Thousand Poets for Change at Ca' Tron, near San Stae. (A few of the 99,999 other poets were also on the bill, but the rest were spread out at different venues around the globe). Information for the event that I'd found online said the event would begin at 9 pm.

Actually, it began at 5 and, from a report I got from a friend, was packed. I didn't know this when I arrived, nor even as I enjoyed a poetry competition among local poets of all ages, which I imagined were the opening acts for McClure. Until the competition wrapped up,  a young raggae band set up on the stage, and I ran into my friend.

Have I ever mentioned how challenging it can be to get accurate scheduling information in Venice? Even for natives. For example, no one with kids in my son's preschool--not even the typically in-the-know-head-of-the-PTA types--knew exactly when the first day of school would be. We had a general idea, but didn't find out for sure (well, almost for sure; few things here are for sure) until two days before school opened. Only the day before it opened did we get some idea of what the actual hours of the first two days of school were likely to be. Though those were inevitably revised on the opening day itself.

In any case, I missed McClure. But if you ever have the chance to catch a poetry competition at Ca' Tron, which is the seat of the Università IUAV di Venezia (an architecture, urban design and arts school), it's worth a visit, even if your Italian is limited, just to take in the scene. They also host films and other events open to the general public.

Refreshment tent and Ca' Tron behind a good crowd
Last night's competition was won by Gigi, an older poet who uses dialect in his works. Though he's often in Venice for business, he told me as we caught a ride home together on the vaporetto, he lives on the mainland, in the countryside. He grew up in the mountains, near Belluno, and though the language he grew up speaking would be considered part of the Venet language spoken throughout the old Venetian Republic, he told me about the differences between his native tongue and that spoken in the lagoon. He also reminded me that such differences between mainland and lagoon were hardly surprising when one considers the differences in language spoken even to this day by natives of, for example, the Giudecca compared to those of Castello, of Castello to Chioggia, of Chioggia to Malamuoco....

In light of which the complexities or ambiguities or multiplicities of scheduling seem to pale.

Electric poet: Rudi, one of the night's three finalists

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