FISH QUILL POETRY BOAT:
We are Leigh Kotsilidis and Linda Besner, two Canadian poets with critically acclaimed first books. In 2010, we wanted to organize a reading tour, and we talked about how author tours tend only to hit the big cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax. We thought it would be great to get out to some smaller towns, and find a way to reach new audiences—people who might not ordinarily come out to a literary reading.
We wanted a tour that would make poetry feel like something people can relate to. And something that seemed like fun.
At first we thought we would ride horses from town to town, and call ourselves the Royal Canadian Mounted Poets (RCMP). Then we figured since we don’t know how to ride horses, don’t own horses, and would probably break all our bones on our way to the readings, that was probably a bad idea.
Then we thought of the perfect unconventional tour vehicle: the canoe.
We started Fish Quill Poetry Boat, which is now an annual ten-day poetry and music tour featuring five poets and one musician—2013 will be our fourth year. For riverside towns, the water is a huge part of the life of the community. Travelling along a river seemed like an ideal way to get to know a region rather than just parachuting in for a reading, talking about ourselves and our work, and then taking off.
We chose the Grand River in southwestern Ontario. The Grand is a beautiful river with tonnes of herons, turtles, wildflowers, and spots to camp along its shores. It flows 300 kilometres from the highlands of Dufferin County to Port Maitland, where it empties into Lake Erie. It’s also a river that connects a whole string of small and medium-sized towns where we found fantastic local organizations willing to partner with us. In particular, our partnership with Treks in the Wild (http://www.treksinthewild.com/) has been crucial to this tour.
This June 13-23, FQPB will be paddling from Elora to Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, camping every night and giving performances in pre-arranged and pre-advertised venues along the way.
Our poets this year are David Seymour, Gillian Savigny, Andy McGuire, Leigh Kotsilidis, and Linda Besner. All are accomplished poets, and between us we’ve been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards, the Gerald Lampert Award, and have had our work anthologized in publications such as The Best Canadian Poetry Anthology.
To view our itinerary and this year's participant biographies, please click here: http://fishquill.weebly.com/upcoming.html
To join our Facebook event, please click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/431285653633505/
HERE'S WHAT WE NEED YOUR CONTRIBUTION FOR:
TRANSPORTATION: Our biggest cost is transportation; even though we get our canoe rental for free from our awesome sponsor, Treks in the Wild, we still need to pay them for the shuttling service they provide—the nature of running a tour by canoe means that sometimes where we sleep (campsites) and where we give our performances (cafés, heritage sites) aren’t very close to each other, and sometimes our campsites are too far from the river for us to lug our canoes and all our gear. If you’ve ever driven a huge van with a canoe rack with three canoes, eight people, and ten days worth of camping gear, you know it guzzles a lot of gas. We also need to get our participants and their gear out to Elora, and then back to Toronto at the tour’s end.
FOOD: We’re lucky to be reading in some great venues that are able to feed us for free, so some of our dinners are taken care of. But we still need to feed six people breakfast and lunch every day for ten days, with a few dinners as well. We cook at our campsites over Coleman stoves, so our budget is very reasonable.
CAMPING: We get some of our camping costs sponsored by the Grand River Conservation Authority, but a few campsites we have to pay for.
PROMOTION: We’ve worked out a great deal with Coach House Books who do our poster and flyer printing for free. But to get our promotional materials out, Leigh and Linda have to rent a car and drive out to the towns our tour goes to and put up posters and place flyers in local businesses and libraries.
And, if we exceed our indiegogo goal…
ADMINISTRATION: Leigh and Linda organize this tour in their “spare” time. If the four other performers on the tour were to pay a professional tour manager for a ten-day tour with eight performances, complete with all logistical and promotional activity, it would amount to a lot of money. We’d like to offer Leigh and Linda a small honorarium for all their work.
ARTISTS' FEES: Fish Quill Poetry Boat’s writers and musicians are professionals who have reached a high level of accomplishment in their fields. They’ll all be taking time off from other work to go on the tour. We’d like to offer each of them a professional reading fee for each performance.
WHAT YOUR CONTRIBUTION WILL GET YOU:
Perks! We’ve got perks galore. We’ve devised rewards for the following levels of Fish Quill supporter:
PERCH: 10$ will get you a Fish Quill tote bag stuffed with the gorgeous Fish Quill poster made by artist extraordinaire Ian Turner, and a Fish Quill magnet.
BASS: $20 will get you a copy of our Fish Quill anthology, a book with poems and song lyrics by Fish Quill performers past and present; that’s 50 acclaimed poets and musicians, including Nick Thran, Gabe Foreman, Asa Boxer, Helen Guri, and Jack Marks.
TROUT: $25 gets you a sweet Fish Quill t-shirt featuring artwork by the talented Ian Turner. Ian’s got serious chops.
SALMON: $50 gets you a plaque-mounted copy of our poster signed by all six of our 2013 participants. Literary wall art you can be proud of.
PIKE: $100 gets you all of the above. A great deal.
DOLPHIN: $300 means we’ll compose a poem just for you! You can commission an original piece on a topic of your choice; it’s an original and meaningful gift for a loved one (or for yourself).
SHARK: $500 gets you a Fish Quill-themed day with Leigh and Linda! First, canoeing on the Grand River, with a private reading on the water. Then, dinner with us at one of the region’s fine restaurants.
SHARK + ONE: $750 gets you AND A GUEST a Fish Quill-themed day with Leigh and Linda! First, canoeing on the Grand River, with a private reading on the water. Then, dinner with us at one of the region’s fine restaurants.
WHALE: $1000 will get you a personal manuscript workshop with acclaimed poets Leigh Kotsilidis and David Seymour. Leigh and David will read your work (up to 70 pages) and provide you with detailed feedback.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON'T REACH OUR GOAL:
The show must go on! If we don’t reach our funding goal, it means we’ll prioritize paying for transportation, food, and camping, and skimp on our promotion. We would nix any administration fee, so once again Leigh and Linda would do all the work for free and no participants would be paid.
What we love about Fish Quill Poetry Boat is that it really does get a different audience out to hear new poetry and music. Every year audience members who’ve been attracted by the quirky concept come up to us after the show to tell us they’ve never been to a poetry reading before, and they loved it. This really means a lot to us. Poetry doesn’t get a lot of exposure in our society, so a lot of people never get a chance to find out whether they like it or not! We always bring extremely high quality performers on our tour, and often their art isn’t what people are expecting.
For the past four years, we have also made a point of involving non-arts organizations who have a concern for the river and see it as an integral part of their environment that enriches lives. We believe it is extremely valuable for these distinct communities to be in conversation with one another. In most cases, we have more in common than we think.
Our track record makes us confident that our 2013 tour will be a success. It’s the fourth year we’ve run Fish Quill Poetry Boat, and every year we’ve had great audiences, great performers, and no one has drowned yet!
If you like the idea of modern-day troubadours heading down a river in canoes to share their music and words, we think you’ll see why Fish Quill Poetry Boat is something we want to run again in 2013.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
Get the word out! If we do say so ourselves, our video is pretty funny—share it on your social media networks, email it to family, friends, and colleagues. You can use Indiegogo’s share tools to make spreading our campaign even easier.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!