Vertigo Reading Series soars high

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Local writers’ showcase brings authors and readers together

Jonathan Petrychyn
Contributor

The Vertigo Reading Series is the only one of its kind in Regina. In fact, it is the only reading series in Regina, a surprising fact considering Reginans pride themselves on their artistic endeavors.

“The Vertigo Reading Series is a platform for writers to share the work that they’re doing,” said Kris Brandhagen, administrator of the Vertigo Reading Series, in an interview before the show. “If the Vertigo Reading Series didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have these renowned writers coming to town … We want to increase literary awareness in Regina, and give authors who are doing book tours an audience.”

The series takes place once a month at Orange Izakaya on Robinson Street just off 13th Avenue, though a dine-and-dasher at a recent show has forced the series to move to an unannounced location for their next show. Informal and intimate, Orange Izakaya lent itself nicely to the small reading series, and it’s a pity they’ll have to move. More than one writer stepped away from the mic that night to read their works to the small audience of about 20 people.

The series is free for anyone to attend, and anyone to read. “It is for any kind of writer, emerging or established,” said Brandhagen. “People seem to think that going to hear writers perform would be dry, but we’ve had some really amazing performances come through and it’s been really exciting … It’s not academic; it’s about sharing creativity”

Usually the host, Brandhagen stepped away from the mic for the March 27 evening show, “passing it off to the writers.” Having hosted the show for almost one year, the show marked the last one she would host, as she was handing the series over to the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and to the founder of the Vertigo Reading Series, Tracy Hamon, after almost two years of performances. “They will be able to be more available and more accessible,” Kris said. “It will nice to have it back in the hands of the people who care about it.”

The night began with Southey writer Rolli, who read a series of poems from his published book Plum Stuff, some unpublished poetry from what he describes as his “gothic novel in poems”, as well as a short story ostensibly about a using a very large coupon.

The show then progressed through Melissa Richardson’s personal poetry about her grandparents and an excerpt from her unfinished novel. “I’m nervous as all heck”, she quipped before she read “Chilliwack Man”, a poem about a homeless man in Chilliwack, BC. The poem hit a nerve in the midst of a housing crisis and skyrocketing rates of homelessness in Regina “But newspaper has always kept him warm”, she read, “and up to date.”

After a brief intermission, in which the audience ate, drank, and purchased books from the authors reading that night, the show moved onto reading by Jarrett Rusnak of a few scenes from his unpublished play, That Moment In Between, in which “a script writer in agony watches key moments of his life flash before his eyes on stage.”

The show ended with a reading by award-winning and critically-acclaimed Regina author Alison Lohans. She read excerpts from two of her novels, Don’t Think Twice, a book written as “a protest against the Vietnam War”, and Collapse of the Veil, a science fiction novel whose main character is a teen mother.

Brandhagen took the mic one last time at the end of the night, thanking the audience for coming. “You become a writer here. You don’t wake up and you are one,” she said. “Without a listener, audience, or a viewer, as a reader, you don’t have the energy coming back to you.”

The next Vertigo Reading Series will take place Sunday, Apr. 24 at 7 p.m. The location remains to be announced. They are always looking for new and established writers to share their work.

For more information on the Vertigo Reading Series, where to go, and who to talk to about reading, check out their blog at vertigoreadingseries.wordpress.com, or find them on Facebook.

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