News and Reviews

Resistance at Cafè Voltaire

Posted Feb 23, 2017 by Paul Strickland

Resistance was the name of a poetry reading held at Cafè Voltaire at Books & Co in Prince George on Thursday, February 17th 2017. About 25 attended the literary reading emceed by published poet Kara-lee MacDonald.

MacDonald started off the evening with her poem "Interview," from her Caitlin Press poetry collection, Eating Matters. The book is a semi-autographical narrative about how she overcomes anorexia and bulimia and the poem from which she read is not titled in the book.

It has been suggested that her book might be helpful to some who would like to overcome the disorder.

MacDonald is also the co-founder, along with Rob Budde and George Harris of a new arts and culture magazine called Thimbleberry.


Andrew Kenway is a Prince George poet whose writing has matured since I first heard him in 2012 at the Twisted Cork. Two years later I again listened to Andrew at an event called Unpublished, hosted by Page Boy Books. At that time Andrew starred with other poets including MacDonald. At Café Voltaire Andrew effectively recited a number of his poems from memory, including "The Bone Machine," "The Poor City Sleeps," and "Bastard."

For anyone wishing to hear Andrew speak, he was interviewed by Grant Bachand in 2015, on CFURadio. During the interview, Andrew spoke about movies, comics and everything else that keeps grown men living in their parents’ basements.

I was invited to participate, and read Spanish writer Antonio Machado's poems “Coplas Mundanas” and “Aqui.” Each Spanish reading was followed by their English translations. Machado’s poetry was influenced by Oscar Wilde and Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario. As Machado’s poetry developed he became known for his social realism and since this event was titled, Resistance, I thought the choice apt. I ended my reading with "The Jackboots Are Still Marching," a poem I wrote a few years ago.

Sam Wall, news editor of UNBC's Over the Edge Student Newspaper read three of her poems, including "Green Book."

"I'm focusing more on the solidarity aspect of resistance," she said during commentary on the ideas inspiring her work.

Sara Sullivan read two poems, including "Why."


Hira Rashid, a well versed poet who studied at CNC before moving over to UNBC. At CNC she was published in the student newspaper, Confluence. Hira, an active supporter of multiculturalism, made reference to her Muslim Pakistani culture and read a powerful poem titled "Infidel." Her second poem was titled "Cultural Appropriation."

Erin Bauman read "Time to Stand Up," about pipeline protests in North Dakota. "Public land shouldn't be destroyed for private gain," she commented.

Sam Wall returned to the microphone to read "Like a Lion," and discussed those who "identify as non-binary."

Darrin Rigo, from Fellows Addressing Masculinity (FAM) at UNBC, read "The Good Men." In this poem he implied that it is not enough to simply not murder or injure women  nor was it permissible to mistreat spouses or girlfriends. These "good men" live lawful lives and never harm anyone. But in his view, they shouldn't rest in just being "good men." They must actively seek to root out misogyny wherever they see it. The Montreal Massacre of 1989 remains in the public memory, and the statistics about the prevalence of domestic violence weigh on the conscience of every reasonable citizen, he said. The now merely good men must take a more active role in calling out men who tell misogynist jokes, express misogynist views, or mistreat the women and they must implement other measures to make our society safe for women.

MacDonald returned to the stage to read key poems like "Mimicry," "Click Bait," and "Caged Bird."

"The caged bird sings of freedom," she said.

Hira concluded the evening with her poem, "Pink Cup," which she said was about women channeled into roles as second-class citizens."

Reviewer Bio:

Paul Strickland — in his 28 years as a full-time journalist and 6.5 years as a free lance journalist, Paul has worked for newspapers in Nevada, Medicine Hat and Prince George. Besides being an investigative reporter, he is a poet, a short story writer and an essayist. He presently resides in Prince George.