In an age where Piranha 3DD is considered an appropriate film title, and people use tiny keyboards to relate their innermost feelings on a daily basis, it’s not hard to imagine that poetry is going through a flux.
Luckily for Montrealers, there are plenty of peopleâ€”and young ones, at thatâ€”who are both passionate and active in making sure the written word as we once knew it stays alive and relevant.
Such is the case with The Room 22, a local art collective that strives to promote the poetry and art of its members, as well as other artists around the city.
Conceived in 2008, the collective’s beginnings were as auspicious as the work that would follow in the next few years.
“We had planned to go to a motel room on St-Jacques, to take pictures,” recalled member Marie Jane. “After an entire night of bonding we just realized how much we were longing to create more. The idea was to create a channel in which everything, all our inspirations, all our expressions of art were communicated.”
Publishing their work through their website (which offers a mix of poetry, photography and a manifesto that flows as easily as a poem), the eight-member strong collective is able to share their work with the public, as well as showcase the contrast between the members’ poetic aesthetics.
“Through the blog, we push each other to create consistently. By seeing others produce work, it makes us want to do the same. The blog becomes a way of sharing every step of the process of writing, as well as visual creation,” explained Marie Jane. “We share our inspirations, our poems, our letters, our secretsâ€¦”
And like any gathering of creative people working together, they also share in growing as a group.
“We have different styles or maybe just different strengths and weaknesses, so from time to time we’ll disagree on certain things,” said member Guillaume Morissette. “In those times, it’s important, I feel, to try to have empathy for the other person and try to see where the other person is coming from with his/her suggestion.”
The collective also publishes their work through zines, a popular medium for young artists, because they are easy to distribute and pose no creative limits.
“So far, the zines have been a collection of our work, as well as artists that we know, love and are inspired by,” said Marie Jane. “We enjoy receiving people’s work by email, and we are always looking for new writers and artists to promote.”
Being wordsmiths in a modern era, the members of the collective also have their opinions on the direction poetry is headed. Poetry is not as appreciated as it was centuries ago, admits member Nicholas Lindsay, but it sill has a modern footing.
“I think today it’s attached to temporary divertissements: […] music, or Twitter, or street art. But I think that poetry, because of its intimate attachment to the written word […] is easily lost in a world where the written word is everywhere coming at you from every direction.”
Lindsay fears a lot of work is “lost” in the glut of writing available everywhere.
“But I think this should force poetry and the best poets to make grander strides [and] step out beyond its limitations to the written word, like explore and reinvent its own presentation and themes.” Room 22 writers are aware of this, he added.
At the end of the day, the collective is best described through the members’ own words.
Devin Charitonidis puts it: “newborns, rootdown, cosmic, multilateral, poetry.”
Morissette’s own description: “home.”
Join The Room 22 on Sept. 10 at the Friendship Cove, 215 Murray St., for We Send the Wave to Find the Wave, an evening of poetry and live music. To see more of their work, visit their website at www.theroom22.com