There’s a popular belief that the year 2012 will be momentous: some say it will be the end of the world. And in Ottawa, a group of poets have decided that this is a great reason to throw a party and send a poem to the end of the world, as a message of sorts.
Poetry for the End of the World, on January 21, is a social evening and party in support of VERSeFest, which takes place February 28 to March 4. Along with live music by bluegrass/folk band Call Me Katie and Montreal indie band Puggy Hammer (both bands claim poets in their membership,) an open mike, and featured readings of apocalyptic poetry, the organizers will name the winner of VERSe Ottawa’s ‘Poetry for the End of the World’ contest, and then, to crown the night, the winning poem will, quite literally, be sent off to the End of the World.
The idea to send the winning poem off into the unknown came as the organizers were thinking up the best way to celebrate the supposed apocalypse, and they have gotten their hands on a weather balloon, which will be launched from outside Arts Court, at 2 Daly Avenue, at 10:00 PM, after which everyone will head back inside to hear Puggy Hammer perform.
The poem will be laminated to protect it from the elements before launching. A weather balloon can climb to 100,000 feet (high enough to see the curvature of the earth), and can travel great distances if they catch the jetstream. The assumption is that the balloon will climb, and expand as it climb, until the helium inside it expands too far and it bursts, taking the poem out “not with a whimper, but with a bang,” to misquote the famous poem by T. S. Eliot. Maybe not literally the End of the World, but this is poetry: it’s the metaphor that matters.
The Poetry for the End of the World contest is open until January 7th, and poets can submit their work, or sign up for the open mike, at versefest.ca. The party will be held on January 21, starting at 7:00, and guests are welcome to attend some or all of the events. The full schedule is available at the VERSeFest website.