Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A toast to the agony of love

The night may have been about empty hearts, but the house was full at the Dominion Hotel for the Dead Poets Society's Valentine's Day salute to the agony of love on Feb. 12.

Linda McNamara got things cooking with a reading of Alfred Tennyson's The Lady of Shallott, a tale of a magical being who, while it is forbidden, falls in love with a mortal man.

"There's a small onion joke in there somewhere, but I just couldn't find it," quipped mistress of ceremonies Kathleen Atkinson-Hindle.

Doug Pugh took the stage as Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet and theologian.

"I've been dead for 800 years, so that's not the smell of fear of me being on stage," Pugh said before reading a few selections of Rumi's contemplative work.

As it sometimes does, the society opened its doors to couple of live poets on Saturday and Marjorie Green gave a reading of February, a humourous take on a dreary month by Margaret Atwood.

"Frankly, I think she always sounds like she's dead," Green said as she took the podium.

Next up, John Unrau read poems by another living Canadian poet, Partick Lane.

Unrau said he'd chosen poems that were about a very different kind of love than the romantic kind and read some of Lane's work about his tortured relationship with his parents.

In a Dead Poets' debut, George Farrell and Jazz Kitchen performed a Valentine's blues number penned by Farrell himself, to much delight from the crowd.

Alex Morrison took the stage as Robbie Burns, Donna Gagnon as Elizabeth Smart and Laura Redman as Anne Sexton.

Dominion owner Shawn Chamberlin performed as Roy Orbison and brought down the house with a rendition of Love Hurts.

The society is set to reconvene for the summer solstice.


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