Festival of Words poetry slam to feature performance poet C.R. Avery

Lisa Goudy
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C.R. Avery compares his writing schedule to doing the dishes.

“You should clean the house once a week or you should do dishes every day, but when guests are coming over you kind of slip into overdrive. It’s the same with writing a little bit,” he said.

“I know I’m supposed to write every day and I’m a better person when I do, but … when you’re working on a book or you’re about to head out on a tour or you’re finishing an album, sometimes you slip into overdrive because there’s a real need to have it perfect or the way you’re happy with. It’s like anything.”

Avery will be the featured poet during the poetry slam on July 18 at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words. It’s been a while since he’s been to Moose Jaw to do a couple of shows, but he’s never been to the festival before. He’s looking forward to performing for a Moose Jaw audience.

“I like performing,” said Avery. “That’s fun.”

He added that it’s impossible to know what might turn into poetry.

“It’s everywhere. It’s in Chuck Berry lyrics and it’s in good dialogue of a movie. It doesn’t have to be somebody behind a podium with a book,” said Avery. “It makes the world better, a more interesting place. Who knows, maybe this interview could turn into poetry?”

Avery has released 17 CDs of performance poetry and several poetry books, including Magic Hour Sailor Songs, 38 Bar Blues and his recent release, Some Birds Walk for the Hell of It. He is also a past winner of the CBC National Poetry Face-Off.

He crosses multiple genres, including blues, hip-hop, spoken word and rock and roll.

He enjoys many different genres of poetry, from Hank Williams to Jay-Z. Personally, his inspiration comes from many corners of life.

“It’s a bit of a roadmap too. You’re at a crossroads and you don’t know whether to make a left or a right. You start scribbling. By the end of it, you know which road you’re supposed to take,” said Avery.

Learning other people’s poetry or works of art helps him grow as a writer too.

“Everything you take in, watching Mohammed Ali fight to listening to pop songs on the radio, every you take in comes out. That could just be a nice walk in the rain,” said Avery.

But calling someone a poet is a “really funny phrase,” he said.

“It’s rather pretentious. Bob Dylan wouldn’t call himself a poet. I don’t think George Carlin would call himself a poet. I doubt even Hank Williams would call himself a poet or Mohammed Ali, but they definitely are,” said Avery.

The Saskatchewan Festival of Words runs from July 17 to 20. Passes are $200, flex passes are $100 or anyone can pay for individual sessions. Visit www.festivalofwords or call 306-691-0557.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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