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Celebrating the human voice with the A B series

By Alejandro Bustos on May 18, 2014

Since 2007, the Ottawa-based A B Series has been presenting innovative programming filled with experimental poetry, music and spoken word.

Founded by Max Middle, the Series’ artistic director, the cutting-edge programming has brought first-rate performers from across Canada and around the world to our region.  But while the current programme includes musical performances, literary readings and innovative arts, its origins lie in poetry.

“The original motivation behind the series was partly to give poets/writers travelling through Ottawa the opportunity to read here and partly to give voice to local poets/writers,” Middle tells Apartment613.

At first, Middle organised the series by himself, as he put on shows that gave opportunities to showcase experimental poetry.  This one-man operation, however, soon blossomed into an important cultural force in the city, as it grew to include musical concerts in addition to literary readings.

The Series also grew large enough to have a three-member Board of Directors, currently made up of Michèle Provost, Sanjay Mohanta and Susan Johnston.

“We bring people from all over the world,” says Middle, when asked to comment on the events that the Series has organized over the years.  “[Performers] that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else.”

The Series is also an important venue to see local talent, whether it be writers, musicians or creative artists.

“What ties everything together is the human voice,” says Middle.  “Spoken word, experimental poetry . . . musical performers.”

Maja Ratkje

Maja Ratkje

The next show in the Series is a concert by Norwegian composer, vocalist and instrumentalist Maja Ratkje at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage this coming Tuesday, May 20, at  7:30 pm.  Ottawa’s talented saxophonist Linsey Wellman will be the opening act, and tickets start at $28.

This musical concert will be followed by a reading on Thursday, June 5, at 8 pm at the Ottawa Art Gallery (Arts Court, 2 Daly Ave.) by Toronto-based poet Sarah Pinder and acclaimed Ottawa-author and translator Antonino Mazza.

The Series will conclude this season’s set of performances on Friday, June 13, at 8 pm with a reading involving several poets.  The event, which is being held as part of Michèle Provost’s upcoming exhibition Roman Feuilleton, is a co-presentation with the Centre d’exposition l’imagier, and will take place at the Centre’s location at 9 rue Front in Aylmer, Québec.

Ten writers, poets and artists will be presenting their works on June 13, including such notable members of Ottawa’s literary community as Sandra RidleyCameron AnsteePearl Pirie and Amanda Earl.

The A B series will return in October when it launches its eighth season with readings by Sandra Ridley and Erín Moureand.