Ron Romanowski Reviewed

Posted May 24th, 2010

By Amanda Hope

Aqua Books has been a favourite hangout spot for me since I started Creative Communications last fall. Its combination of books and food fulfills pretty much every basic need, and its proximity to campus means I’m never more than a ten minute walk from a wealth of creativity. The bookstore also hosts over 200 events each year, and tonight I witnessed one of them. In celebration of the May Works 2010 Festival, I spent the evening listening to epic poetry and foot-tapping, head-bobbing music. Watching the performances gave me a much needed boost to continue writing the collection of short stories I have been slaving over for the past month. Sometimes the best way to find one’s inner creativity is through the celebration of another person’s creativity, and the “Bread and Roses” artistic evening gave me exactly what I needed.

Poet Ron Romanowski kicked off the evening with readings from two of his books, including Insurrection, a collection of poetry about the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. I purchased this book from McNally Robinson a few months ago, and it’s definitely worth a read. What drew me to this collection in particular was the historical aspect. I am currently in the research stage of my IPP, and most of the stories are set in Winnipeg. I was curious to see how another Winnipegger approached writing about the city, and was not disappointed. Romanowski also read a few new pieces, which will be published next spring. His delivery was honest, straightforward, and heartfelt, and I believe words on a page really come alive when they are read aloud by the person who has written them.

Following Romanowski’s poetry reading was a musical performance from Liliana Romanowski – Ron’s wife – and Ferruccio Moscarda – Liliana’s father. They performed a collection of songs together, and brought the audience through both the “bread” and “roses” aspects of the evening. Liliana’s vocals were very impressive, and she is currently training with an opera singer at the University of Manitoba. Moscarda accompanied her on guitar. After listening to him, I wanted nothing more than to run home and play my own guitar. Which I will. After writing this blog. My favourite part of the performance was when father and daughter sang an Italian love song together. There is something about song in foreign languages that simply can’t compare to English. Maybe that’s why I love the opera.

Finally, John Baillie read his poetry, and this man is absolutely hilarious. His poetry is great, but his delivery is simply superb. I have not laughed that hard in a long time, and he seems like the kind of interesting, animated individual you would want to buy a beer and talk to for hours. Writing is definitely an art, and the way Baillie constructs sentences to be both humorous and informative is artistry at its finest. I could learn a thing or two from this man.

The evening was fantastic, and I am impressed by how confidently and gracefully each of the presenters took the stage and shared their passions. I will strive to be able to present my work with such flair, and hopefully one day it will be me who has both the microphone and attention of an entire room. Watching fellow Winnipeggers do what they love is the perfect way to spend an evening.