Sideshow Tour Diary #1

The poet prepares for a launch via nail art. Having just read and loved Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli’s Rom Com, I had to read up on Jennifer and Justin’s wedding. Can you believe that Joey and Chandler weren’t invited?

I have arrived in Edmonton! I lived here (off and on) for about six years, so there are lots of friends to see and nostalgic grub to grab. How does a poet get in the right frame of mind for one’s first book launch event? I decided that getting my nails done would be an economical, fun, and appropriate way to do so. I think it worked, even if a dip in the hotel pool has helped introduce a few chips into the blue veneer. I like chips though—both the kind that suggests decay and change, and also the kind that is potato.

Speaking of food, it’s just not a trip to Edmonton for me unless a stranger has offered me unsolicited diet advice! (“Cheese makes you too thick.”) One of the poems that didn’t “make the cut” of Sideshow Concessions is a found poem of similar comments from strangers, all received on Edmonton sidewalks. So many of these encounters were unique and meaningful, if possibly risky or invasive (“Lucas? You look more like a Lucy… But will you hold my hand and say some Hail Marys?”) while others were less so (“what the fuck are you?” “fag or dyke?!” “free willy!!!” etc.). Many of us have lots of stories of pain but I’m not meaning to focus on that right this moment. What I want to say is that Edmonton is the place that taught me that sidewalks are a key place where cities happen. We think of them as utilitarian, even boring, but they are dynamic living spaces (including for people who do not have stable housing, obviously).

Here I am giving away my first copy of Sideshow Concessions. From left to right: my friends, Marco Katz Montiel (musician and author), myself, Carmen Ellison (poet), and Betsy Boone (art historian extraordinaire).

In fact, the week I moved to Edmonton, I walked nervously around my new neighbourhood, trying to get a feel for what seemed like an unfathomably large city, when I saw a copy of an alt-weekly that boasted a guide to upcoming queer and literary events. There was an open call for five minute readings at The Roar Spoken Word Festival (RIP). I nervously submitted, mired in the self-doubt that I think a lot of rural people feel when they move to a city—not a feeling of “will I get in?” but of “am I laughable for even thinking this could be for me?!” We so seldom think about rural to urban migration, the shock it entails, or the losses it entails. I digress, but part of what Sideshow Concessions does, I suppose, is to show a jagged path from then to now.

To get to read with Edmonton’s Cato Taylor (founder, with Derek Warwick, of FRESH: a Literary Reading Series) and Ali Blythe (author of the brand new title from Icehouse, Twoism) makes me so happy I could… eat some cheese.

Editor’s note: you can catch Lucas, Cato, and Ali reading TONIGHT; all the details here.

A poetry-tour dispatch from Invisible author Lucas Crawford (Sideshow Concessions). Catch Lucas between readings here on the Invisiblog for the next couple of months.

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