The Nanaimo Art Gallery is capping off a summer-long series of events along the Millstone River with a performance of music and poetry at the river’s source.
On Oct. 3 VIU poetry professor and singer-songwriter Sonnet L’Abbé brings the NAG’s Huli u’tu staluẃ/Riverbed series to an end with a performance at the Brannen Lake boat launch.
Huli u’tu staluẃ means “life by the river” in Hul’q’umi’num, and at each of the events artists, performers, scientists and language advocates led workshops and gave presentations at different sites along the river. L’Abbé was tasked with attending all the events and will be reflecting on those experiences in their final performance.
“Having to write either a poem or a song about what I’ve witnessed helps me understand what I’ve taken away from it and what I’ve taken away from the art,” they said.
L’Abbé took notes at all the events and is now at work fleshing out “chunks” of poetry and song. They said some of the activities may be harder to incorporate into their writing, like the workshop on soil remediation.
“I knew nothing about soil remediation and so I’ve been telling jokes, I’m like ‘I’ve got to write a song about soil remediation, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,’” L’Abbé said.
Despite the challenge, L’Abbé said they took on the project because of their fascination with humanity’s place in nature and the way people relate to the areas in which they live.
“Anything that has us actively thinking about how we understand the land that we live on and understand the place that we’re in and how we name it and tell stories about it is really of interest to me…” they said. “I’ve written a bit about water and a bit about relations to plants, so to be invited to so specifically be around the river and the ecosystems around the river and just think about that was really attractive to me.”
WHAT’S ON … Sonnet L’Abbé performs at the Brannen Lake boat launch, 5500 Dunster Rd., on Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.