The UKing’s Literary Society (KLS) held its third Live Poets! reading of the 2020-21 academic year on February 18. With Valentine’s Day still in the air, this installment was focused on the theme of love as attendees engaged in a virtual symposium on Zoom. This was the first Live Poets! event to include three special guest readers, with Toronto-based Bahar Orang and Ottawa-based Scott Lemoine and Ben Ladouceur each sharing poems that celebrated different kinds of love. Notably, all three readers identify as LGBTQ+ and the event served as a space to celebrate queer love and identity. Following the guest readings, students were invited to share their own poetic works in an open mic.
The event began with a land acknowledgment, recognizing the presence of King’s on unceded and unsurrendered Mi’kmaq territory as well as host and KLS president Lucy Boyd’s presence in unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin and Anishinaabe Territory. Boyd then set the tone for the evening by referencing Plato’s Symposium, asking “What is love?” before introducing the special guests.
Bahar Orang began reading from her new book, Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty. As a physician in training, Orang noted that there are two narratives at work in her book, one that deals with medical training and another that tells a love story. The poems she shared were purposely fragmented, influenced by the ancient Greek poet Sappho, creating a stream of consciousness style that quickly grabbed the attention of the audience. Orang closed by reading her favourite poem on love, “Against the Police” by Miguel James. She questioned the relationship between intimate and political spaces, asking the audience, “What are the ethics of loving and of caring?”
Scott Lemoine then read a variety of poems from his collection, choosing to highlight a jealous or unrequited love. As a musician, his poetry is incredibly lyrical and rhythmic. Lemoine flawlessly incorporated a variety of themes in his reading, making references to both classical mythology and fandom. His enthusiastic style and exemplary dictation captured the audience, as he read a poem entirely made up of Mariah Carey quotes.
Lemoine shared fellow poet Kayla Czaga’s work for his favourite love poem, noting that although the poem was written pre-COVID, it captures the act of loving someone through a screen. Overall, Lemoine’s readings explored many facets of love and a variety of ways to love someone or something.
Ben Ladouceur read from his collections, Mad Long Emotion and Otter, highlighting themes of intimacy and privacy. His poem “I Love the Whole World,” inspired by Agnes Martin’s painting of the same name, captures a sense of universality while simultaneously celebrating the uniqueness present within all of us. Ladouceur’s work plays with perspective in a way that welcomes multiple interpretations by exploring this sense of universal connection. He took this idea further when sharing his favourite love poems, choosing two surprisingly heart-warming works, one about a dog and the other about a bear.
Following the guests, four students shared their own works of poetry exploring the theme of love. These poems grappled with ideas of remembrance, loving the little things, and survival.
Banner Image: Thomas Sayer’s ‘A Map or Chart of the Road of Love, and Harbour of Marriage,’ 1748