On Thursday, May 14th, the Edmond Place Making Room Community Arts group celebrated the launch of their book EP Verbal Cigarettes.
The product of many months of writing, editing, designing, and making led by Making Room book artist Jonathan Valelly, the book is a unique object. Rather than a traditionally bound book, it is shaped like a pack of cigarettes, with each page rolled up into the shape of a smoke.
All together, the book contained 13 poems by members of the arts group at EP, all reflecting on smoking. Some of these poems were original, others prompted, and still others made from found and manipulated texts. Rather than simply looking at the narrative of health and quitting (though that came up plenty), we also unpacked the way smoking shapes your day, creates pause, changes the way you see the world, and affects how you are read and how you behave.
As a way of celebrating the production of 25 copies of EP Verbal Cigarettes, Edmond Place residents were invited to a literary-salon-style reading in the upstairs recreation and dining room. Carolyne, Robbie, and Sabrina all read two to three of their poems under a special, collaboratively-made smoke cloud complete with handrolled cigarette beads.
After the reading, a smokey BBQ chicken dinner was served. As guests ate, a final reveal was made of a new piece of art hanging in Edmond Place, a collaboratively drawn tracing paper drawing reflecting the wire sculptures and books the Edmond Place group made as a part of One Small Gesture.
This project was supported by a Toronto Arts Council Platform A Micro-grant, and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity. All of the pictures in this post were taken by Jess Shane.
The launch was a total success and a wonderful way to end a long and challenging project and to kick off the exciting projects that will be happening at Edmond Place this summer.
Please read on and fine some examples of the brilliant poetry written by members of the EP arts group this spring!
The problem is smoke, factory fumes,
with every soup of blood and body.
400 government scientists say, “it’s a tribute, my god.”
Know-how takes a question out of the way.
Social colony banned all public.
A decade dedicated to a rush related to insanity,
something heroic, evil, and a disgrace.
(Robbie Mitchell and Carolyne Sawler)
Women rarely admitted publicly to
the First World War providing the watershed
in the history of female.
Acceptance of women occurred.
Woman, reflected and promoted by etiquette specialists, images of female stars. What women “would” was also hotly debated, “feminine forms”
had the added benefit of redrawing boundaries,
creating rituals. While this potential may have put
dollar signs, men to ritual,
women had other priorities, making choices.
Acceptability, women following, raised new issues: Public space, a third element in etiquette and ideology.
I have argued, much of the etiquette — prescriptive spatial metaphor —
of middle class and elite women did so itself private and out of sight.
Men — “in public” — changes — etiquette —
New spaces where women may be read as a barometer, female challenge
to exclusion from the public ideologies in the formation of
etiquette and tenacity. Indeed, women’s new
public roles in the post-First World War era.
Did they approve of women?
Roman Catholics? Leaders in Montreal?
Practices that were making “female” acceptable, long-established associations between women and the survival ofthe French Canadian “race”,
dangers, women’s ability.
They call on women to free themselves.
Big rig trucks
Public places don’t go far enough,
dropped a form of “she.”
coffee, a cigarette, her life.
She finally got the hunger, the concentration.
She, still herself, her being,
her 88-year-old mother after life.
Last Original, the eye
would understand first,
a pack of cigarettes.