Egg the Poet

Spencer Nafekh

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Yolk told the Montreal literary community to show up, and show up it did.

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Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”

If you throw an egg at somebody reciting poetry, most of the time it will explode upon impact, but sometimes it might bounce lifelessly and crack only upon hitting the floor. If you’re getting egged after delivering your work to the masses, then it may be a good idea to wear a protective poncho as to not ruin your clothes, although some people would much rather indulge in the feeling of eggshell tearing away at bare skin. These assertions might seem odd and frivolous, but to us they are essential truths. Yolk’s inaugural event, Egg the Poet, was a raw, sticky, and revelatory evening.

The night began at 7 p.m. with the yolk team—giddy from the beers they had already drank and the excitement of watching the event they had laboriously planned for weeks unfold—greeting guests and sharing our vision. Ginger beer and English IPA sizzled from the kegs behind the impromptu folding table bar. The keys of the keyboard, the strings plucked on the guitars, and the beautiful voices pouring out into the microphone were heartfelt and contemplative, creating the vibe needed to bring people together, and shining a comfortable amount of light into the dark and unexplored places of the human psyche; We are writers and poets, after all.

Yolk told the Montreal literary community to show up, and show up it did. By 9 p.m., a crowd of more than seventy restless writers, anonymous drifters, friends of friends of friends, and various other kinds of ethereal beings flooded Gham & Dafe to feel the rhythm of live musical performances and absorb the nebulous force of the spoken word. Our Editor-in-Chief, Josh Quirion, kicked off the live readings, and although he began by wearing the protective yellow poncho, the energy in the room was so palpable that by the end of his performance he could not help but rip off the poncho, throw away his shirt, and face the barrage of eggs bare-chested, brazenly belting out the words, “Baptize me, motherfu***rs!”

The readings continued, and with pianist David Gubiani on the keys; voices merged with the music in an amalgamation of artistic expression and divinity. Some readers decided not to be egged upon the conclusion of their reading. Most wanted musical accompaniment, while certain others desired having their incantations permeate alone the stark silence of the crowded venue. None of this mattered; standing there and listening with their ears and their hearts was a community of people ready for anything, awaiting a sermon, a truth, and letting the literary voice of Montreal spill unto them like a new awakening.

We did not need the mountains of Tibet to reach enlightenment. All we needed was a little beer in our systems, music in our ears, love in our souls, and lyrics in the air. By the end of the night, everything in the building became one. Musical harmony interlaced with iambic pentameter interlaced with a lightheadedness from perspiration and alcohol interlaced with shards of eggshell interlaced with a general feeling of euphoria to create a single entity… the yolk identity.

Yes, that night came to a close as everyone filed out of Gham & Dafe, but to the yolk team and their blossoming circle of friends and contributors, all that could be felt was an insurmountable sense that Egg the Poet was the promise of a new beginning.

egg the poet petry reading

lamp art show
Photography by: Sean Smallwood (@some_narc_idk)

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