Poets Reading at 66 King East - August 20, 2009

He describes his poetry as observational, relying on nature to set the metaphorical scene and, to that end, he can often be seen walking Cobourg’s beach, mingling with the wildlife at the west harbour, or driving the back roads of the county with his wife, Margaret, in search of an image, a moment, triggering the beginnings of a new poem. Which is one side of Cobourg poet Mark Clement who will be reading from his work at the Cobourg Poetry Workshop’s monthly 3rd Thursday Poetry Readings on August 20, held at Meet At 66 King Street East.

"On this occasion, I’ll be reading poems that will reflect our times," he says. " I seem to have a need to write about the turbulence of current affairs. So I’ll be reading mostly new works which reflect humanity’s struggles," at the same time, reflecting Clement’s eclectic style.

His work is much admired within the Poetry Workshop, especially his fondness for Haiku, a short-form poem derived from Japanese tradition. "There are many structures to Haiku and it appeals to me because it’s a fairly measured format." Clement says. "It allows me to observe the natural world, often with a seasonal reference, that hopefully allows the listener to hear, and appreciate, a small part of our universe." It can be a visual scene, or hearing a phrase, that triggers the writing process for Clement. "Once I start a poem, I usually stick with it until it’s finished, then put it away for a few days. Then I revise, and revise it again. A poem is never done. I find myself revising poems that are years old."

Clement started writing poetry when he was in high school in the mid-1950s and had been writing intermittently since, his output increasing upon his retirement from the world of electronic design and moving to Cobourg in 2006. With 10 chapbooks of his own work published, he also assembles and publishes the Cobourg Poetry Workshop’s annual anthology of collected works. And what’s so special about the monthly poetry readings? "Poetry that only lives on the printed page, isn’t explored to its fullest. It has its roots in an oral tradition and being able to read it out loud enriches it for both the work for the audience," he says.

"In my experience, the readings we have in Cobourg are one of the best series in Ontario. Out- of-town poets see it as a sought-after venue."

Joining Mark Clement at the 3rd Thursday Poetry Readings will be Toronto poet Matthew Tierney, who will be reading from his recently published book, The Hayflick Limit, and a familiar face for Cobourg audiences, Belleville poet Paul Brown, who will be reading new poems, some that includes a musical performance. There is no admission charge for the readings, which start at 7.00pm.