Metatron Community Mourns Leonard Cohen

A Poetic Night of Grieving and Support

  • Adam Zachary celebrated the release of his new novel, “The End by Anna” at the launch last Thursday. Photo: Franca G. Mignacca

  • Rhiannon Collett performs at Metatron’s catalogue launch on Nov. 10 at Sala Rossa. Photo: Franca G. Mignacca

During Metatron’s book launch for their fall 2016 catalogue, news of Leonard Cohen’s death poured in.

On Nov. 10, Montreal’s closely-knit literature community walked into a very chilly Sala Rossa, greeted by glitter-filled faces amid chatter of creative work and the recent Trump win.

The stage was lined with tea light candles that emitted small wisps of smoke, and a soothing scent. An eclectic mix of music played as people walked in, ranging from rap to indie.

All were gathered for the launch of Metatron’s new fall catalogue. What was initially a celebration of literature, soon turned into a memorial for Leonard Cohen and a night of healing from the American election results.

Metatron founder and former fringe arts editor for The Link, Ashley Opheim, kicked off the night by breaking the news of Cohen’s death to a room of shocked and heart-broken individuals. She dedicated the event to him, with some of the poets adding his words to their own work, and others reading some of his pieces before their own.

Founded four years ago, Metatron started out as a means to organize poetry readings. It now has become a Montreal publishing house.

“I started organizing events that were centered around featuring readers who maybe had less of an academic approach to their writing and more of an entertainment factor,” explained Opheim. “Lots of our writers display humour and jokes about the Internet and the inner workings of young millennial minds.”

Entrance to the launch was by donation, with proceeds going to Taking What We Need, an organization that supports low-income transwomen and trans-feminine people in Montreal.

“I want to live in a world where everyone feels safe and comfortable in their bodies,” said Opheim. In the end, the event raised $414.20 for the organization.

“I want to live in a world where everyone feels safe and comfortable in their bodies.” —Ashley Opheim, Metatron founder

The atmosphere of the room was a safe space where everyone was encouraged to exchange feelings of love and compassion with one another. Throughout the night, poets who took the stage expressed their pain regarding the election results and their gratitude for such an inclusive, accepting platform to share their thoughts.

The poetry presented was both raw and raunchy, expressing concerns and feelings recognized by younger generations, and themes of sexuality and misogyny. Each performer brought their unique personality to the stage, sharing funny and heart-wrenching poems alike.

Cason Sharpe, Rhiannon Collett, Tim Darcy, and Ali Pinkney opened the show, reading segments of their work in preparation for the new fall catalogue writers. The catalogue features two books of poetry, as well the first short novel they’ve published.

Adam Zachary was the first of the catalogue writers to perform, starting with a reading of Cohen’s “Anthem.”

“Later tonight when I get back to my apartment here in Montreal, I’ll actually take some time to process the news we heard earlier about Leonard Cohen who was a really profound influence on my earliest poetry and music and everything,” explained Zachary.

They had chosen “Anthem” not only because it was one of their favourite works by Cohen, but also because it was fitting to our present situation.

Zachary went on to read excerpts from their novel, The End, by Anna, a story about their alter-ego, Anna.

“She was a really important character who I made a great deal of work through for a while. She’s still very dear to my heart but I decided I had to kill her off because I kind of ran out of ideas I could make for that character,” Zachary said.

Their reading was theatrical, often acting out the words they read off the page, going so far as to lie down on the stage dramatically, as Anna lay down in the book.

By the time the last pieces were read, only six candles remained burning around the dimly-lit stage. Though New Orleans-resident Laura Theobald was scheduled to read excerpts of her book, What My Hair Says About You, over a live stream.

Instead, Opheim read excerpts from the book instead. “[Theobald] was feeling really triggered by the election and just didn’t feel that she was in a good place to read tonight,” Opheim explained. “I have agreed to read a little selection of her book.”

What My Hair Says About You is about the mistakes—the same mistakes—that we make in the name of love, over and over again.

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