What’s it like to share the heart and soul of something you’ve written?
Peter Jickling, the new host of Brave New Words, said, “It’s right in the title of the event. It’s brave.”
Jickling’s goal is to take what can be intimidating—the “pouring out of your soul” and “to create a venue where people where people can feel comfortable, in a community of people sharing their ‘stuff.’
“No one should feel out of place,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by another poet, Naali Holmes, who reflected on the freedom of expression she experienced at Brave New Words. “There was someone who shared her poetry in French and didn’t translate it,” Holmes said. “I really loved that it was just fine, that it was a very accessible space. Even people who wrote things the same day, shared. I wrote something while I was there, and got up and shared it.
“Someone who was an incredible, seasoned writer was welcome to share, and someone who had never written before was welcome.”
People who “get up and share for the first time ever, who stretch their comfort zones,” are an inspiration to Jickling. He has seen people share who have been in their late teens, early 20s … all the way up to their 70s.
They share the spoken word, a performance art that is word-based, which includes poetry (any kind of poetry), prose, monologues, storytelling and whatever else people are inspired to write and share. Jickling recalls someone who wrote in postcards during the event and then got up and shared what they had written.
A poet, himself, Jickling writes what he calls free-form poetry. “I take small moments … what some might consider banality or commonplace, and I make people notice them.” He gives an example of walking just steps behind a woman who stopped abruptly. He had to swerve to avoid bumping into her. That “banal” moment was the inspiration for a poem.
An evening of Brave New Words looks something like this: it has two components; the first, about a half-hour set by a local musician, is followed by the open-mic/spoken-word component.
Jickling is not creating something new, he explains, because Brave New Words has been going on for 10 years. “Susanne Hingley did a fantastic job, and before that it was Lauren Tuck … I just want to keep their legacy going.”
Keeping the legacy going is also a community endeavour. “Coming out and supporting local poets and storytellers is the most important thing … coming out in two ways—It’s great just to listen, but [it’s also great] to consider Brave New Words as a venue to express something you’ve been ‘sitting on.’”
Brave New Words runs from September through April, the first Tuesday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the North of Ordinary Experience Centre. The first event was November 6 and opened with singer/songwriter Lara Lewis.
For more information, you are welcome to email Peter Jickling at email@example.com.