December 8: Poets, priests, professors and one-time dancers

The force of winter became undeniable this night, but attendance was generous, nonetheless, at Clintons, no doubt owing to the calibre of talent on hand.

Mind, body and spirit were well tended to as people were treated to an intellectual poet, with freshly-inked Ph.D, a prolific Toronto-area poet who also pursued his calling to become a priest and a veteran dancer who found a second life in the ryhthm of words.

Robert Winger is funny and smart, and if that makes him sound like a catch, we’re sorry ladies, he’s taken.

After taking pointedly humourous swipes at literary cliches and academic jargon during his reading, Winger delivered his own modern verse take on the ancient poetry form, the ghazal. Winger’s ghazals incorporate a slew of contemporary references, including lyrics by the Clash. Free-verse ghazals were the topic of Winger’s doctoral thesis, so he must know his stuff.

Winger is currently poetry editor for ARC Poetry Magazine in Ottawa, where he lives with his family.

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The melodic voice and well-selected words of Toronto’s one-time poet laureate Pier Giorgio Di Cicco graced the ears of rapt listeners at Clintons that night. However, by dint of some subtle agency, his words were too effervescent to be harnessed for long by wordly recording technology. That or someone forgot to flip the tape. However, you may hear his thoughts about the blessings, the importance of preserving a public realm and who poetry and priesthood are complimentary careers.

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Recording gremlins proved even less kind to dancer-turned-poet Moira MacDougall. Her reading did not fully make its passage from the sound board to the recording machine, but a brief interview survives. Moira’s first career was in ballet and modern dance, and dance is a subject of her poetry, along with sex, religion, mythology and entertainment legend Eartha Kitt.

Her first book, Bone Dream, was published by Tightrope Books.

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