My wife and I had the pleasure last night to attend Mansfield Press’s Ottawa launch of their newest titles, which was held at the Raw Sugar Café. For any Ottawa residents who have never been to the Raw Sugar and like unique, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, definitely check it out.
Mansfield launched five books last night, under the direction of editor Dennis Declerc and my friend and mentor, Stuart Ross. It was an absolute blast to see Stuart again – I realized yesterday that it’s been a year – and especially to listen to readings from his new book, Our Days in Vaudeville, which contains collaborative poems that Stuart wrote with twenty-nine other poets. My favorite reading from Vaudeville – and the entire night, actually – was a poem written by Stuart and Sandra Ridley. The poem contains two speakers jockeying for attention, one seemingly as the primary while the other juts in with footnotes and other commentary, and was read by Stuart and Sandra depicted below:
Hilarious to listen to, partly because of Stuart’s forceful and indignant tone, and partly because of the counterbalance with Sarah’s calm, almost robotic responses. Other than Vaudeville, I also particularly enjoyed listening to a sample from Sara Heinonen’s collection of short stories, Dear Leaves, I Miss You All. The story that we heard detailed a young woman’s forced vacation in Beijing, and I was impressed by the vividness of the narrator, the characters she interacts with, and the setting itself.
An excellent night overall, and I’m already looking forward to the next time a Mansfield entourage comes to my new home. I’m also looking forward to digging into Our Days in Vaudeville – though apparently it’s part of my Christmas present, so I have to wait.