A piece I originally wrote for Canada Arts Connect, discussing the origins of the Wrecking Ball hybrid performance series.
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A few short weeks ago, Bill Kennedy, the Artistic Director of the Scream, announced the Festival’s demise. This obituary came in the form of an open letter to the literary community — artists, administrators, volunteers — who had supported the Scream during the 18 years of it’s vibrant, iconoclastic life. The announcement was also a call to action, a request to have the Scream go out with a bang rather than a whimper. We were all invited to host our own events surrounding the last Scream Mainstage, a kind of UnFestival, something that could rise up from the ashes of what has been the best literary Festival in Canada for nearly two decades.
I was absolutely furious when I heard the news. The Scream has been, for many young poets, something to strive for. The Scream combined intellectual ecstasy and straightforward debauchery like few other events. Scream parties are notorious, as are the quality of the readings. I was also angry out of a personal sense of loss. For years, a goal stood on my mind: one day, I would read on the Mainstage. One day I would face the crowd, standing on the Dream stage in High Park, and I would read, while the light faded and mosquitos attacked the spotlights. For me, and for a huge coterie of young writers, that high mark of achievement, that goal, that dream, was suddenly blasted off the literary landscape.
Anger is a fantastic emotion. Grief can paralyze us; fury spurs us to action. I could not let the Scream, something that had given and taken so much from me and so much more from so many others, pass away quietly. I wanted to scream. I wanted to pick up a sledgehammer. I wanted to create an event that was loud and angry, something that would serve as a call to action instead of a laying to rest.
And so, The Wrecking Ball was born. It’s a selfish event, in a lot of ways, as it celebrates my two great loves: poetry and heavy metal. I’ve been dreaming of uniting these disparate yet parallel art forms for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something as crazy as inviting poets and metal bands to perform together. It celebrates everything that was wonderful about the scream: a creative challenge combined with a hell of a party.
Please come. Let out your energy. Sing, scream, listen. Help tear up the crumbling wreckage of The Scream and help build something new out of what is left.
The Scream is dead; long live the Scream.
What: A literary demolition derby, pairing heavy metal bands with experimental poets.
When: July 9th, 2011. Doors at 8pm
Where: The Hard Luck Bar, 812 Dundas St. West
How much: $8