I have been away from my blog for far too long. Below is a review I wrote for a poetry reading I attended in October. I apologize for the out-of-date post, however, I think Daniela is worth hearing about and listening to whenever she is reading.
Poet Daniela Elza read from her latest work The Weight of Dew at The Writers Studio (TWS) Reading Series on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at the Cottage Bistro in Vancouver. With graceful and effortless composure, and making sure that everyone in the pub/restaurant could hear her before she began, she took us through a colourful garden of passages of her life from living in Maple Ridge to moving to Vancouver and finally leaving the city for a trip through the Kootenays.
Daniela knows how to engage her audience. Her unassuming blonde wavy hair, lovely smile, and open presence makes you want to get to know her immediately. She keeps the tone relaxed and informal by first connecting her own experiences to what other readers have read aloud that evening. She related Esmeralda Cabral’s travel piece on Lisbon with her own awkward experience on an air plane, having a glass of milk in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, not knowing which one to drink first. The explanations of her readings were layered throughout to give the audience just enough information, but not so much that you began to shift at your table, wondering when the poetry is about to begin. Daniela has an amiable smile and a personality that makes you feel as if she is talking only to you.
I find her poetry clear and easy to understand while still finding myself wrapped in those lines of beauty sprinkled throughout the seven poems she read. “Serving Time in the Burbs” told us about life in Maple Ridge where “saying is too much to explain.” The poem “Dying for answer” took us back to Vancouver and explained that “they say it is mist rolling in from the sea that turns this City into silhouettes and shadows.”
Half way through her reading, she posed the question, “What do you do when you lose your first line?” to the poets in the audience.
“Get some sleep,” “write down the third line,” “cry,” and “hit something,” were a few of the responses shouted out from the crowd of 30 or so supporters, writers, and readers.
“Well, this poem is about that,” Daniela says and reads the first line of her poem which is “the first line of the poem is missing.”
She reads with just enough “poet voice,” that is, emphasizing the end of a succession of words, that it gives meaning to her images without overpowering the delicate pieces. She knows her writing well enough to look up without having to read every word, which is something I try to do, but am often too concerned with losing my place.
My two favourite poems of the evening were “In the Arms of Kootenay Lake” where “the hands wander over grain of remembered surfaces,” and being “displaced by a purple thistle by a poppy by the sounds of a bee,” and “Crumbling through Harmony” where “the quiet will steal your ears.” Daniela’s use of language shows me that good poetry doesn’t have to be filled with overblown imagery. It’s her descriptions to which an audience can relate that I am drawn to. It’s her skill at infusing these subtle gems sewn into her work that make her writing so special.
The Cottage Bistro is a brand new venue for this reading series. With lighting that was easy on the eyes and the temperature inside just warm enough, everyone settled into a night of listening to poetry, fiction, and non-fiction work from TWS current students, Alumni, and the writing community. Co-hosts Ivan Antoniw and Jocelyn Pitsch kept the evening relaxed and comfortable. I felt as if I was in a friend’s living room. I have been both an audience member and co-host of The Writer’s Studio Reading Series, and I always hear something special in each reader’s work.
I already have a copy of The Weight of Dew (and a signed one, I might add) and look forward to Daniela’s next collection Milk, Tooth, Bane Bone that will be published in April 2013. I highly recommend taking the time to listen to Daniela whenever she reads next as well as buying a copy of one of her books.