The Smithers Public Library kicked off Poetry Month with a night of rousing lyricism on April 5.
The coffeehouse and open mic event began at 7 p.m. on Friday with performances by Dorothy Giesbrecht, Grace Hols and Peter Haines.
Giesbrecht, who has spent the past 43 years living in Driftwood, set poems on nature and days gone by between classical string music.
Hols, who worked as a reporter for many years and has also published short stories and poems, performed several spoken pieces.
Her poem Economics 101 humoured the crowd, with it’s protestations against “Calvinist thrift.”
“I grew up in a very conservative, small-town environment. We had a lot of rules and we were taught about the importance of moderation in everything,” Hols said, introducing the poem. “This is my protest to the moderation.”
Haines’ guitar and singing performance, accompanied by Giesbrecht, had a more sober tone, with heavy topic matter that touched on nature and also natural disasters.
“River, wise and strong, keep singing your ancient song,” he sang as part of an anthem for rivers.
Haines said he was inspired to write the anthem by recent protests, though he added the song wasn’t “anti anything.”
His lyrics also touched on the devastation that natural disasters can cause, with a song written years ago for victims of flooding in Mozambique.
With the recent cyclone activity in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, Haines relented, the song, titled Joshua, was unfortunately timely once again.
Having grown up in Australia before moving to Northern B.C. about 20 years ago, Haines also sang a ballad about an Indigenous Australian man who had his child taken away from him, then found his son’s footprint in the sand and covered it with a can to save it as long as possible.
He compared the subject matter of the song to Canada’s history with residential schools and warned it would be a tear-jerker. Several tissues appeared in the hands of audience members before the final chord.
Library staff person Melissa Sawatsky, who also performed at the event, had introduced Haines saying that “wherever possible he tries to leave the listener with a positive message and a sense of hope for the future of our world and humanity.”
He did indeed, finishing with some toe-tapping sung poetry about beautiful children.
Sawatsky told Interior News that following Haines’ performance and a break, the open mic portion of the event “continued to be moving and inspiring.”