Sunday, February 25, 2007

March Hare 20th Anniversary Tour Program Notes: a little background by Nick Avis

The following is reproduced verbatim from the introduction to the March Hare 20th Anniversary Tour Program Notes (Feb/March 2007: Toronto, Ireland, Newfoundland):

The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps, Alice said to herself, it won’t be raving mad.
Lewis Carroll

The March Hare was created by Al Pittman, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best and best known poets, and his dear friend Rex Brown.

The March Hare began in 1987 as a gathering of poets and musicians, most of us family and friends, in Corner Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland, as something to do on a freezing cold night in the middle of our long and unforgiving winters.

Within a few years the club in which the Hare was being held was filled to capacity. By its tenth year the Hare had expanded from one to four venues, and six years ago it moved across the island to include Gander and St. John‘s. The program also began to include prose.

This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the March Hare with over 80 performers from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Ireland and Japan and some 22 events at locations in Toronto, Ireland and Newfoundland. And to commemorate this occasion, an anthology of poetry and prose, and a CD of song and music have been created.

The March Hare was organized by Al, Rex and me and at some point we began to call ourselves the March Hare committee. When Al died five years ago, Randy Maggs joined us as artistic director. The committee has always recognized, however, that Rex has been the main driving force behind the Hare.

Al’s eldest daughter Kyran, a poet herself, rightfully called her father the people’s poet. Al believed that poetry, indeed all art, belonged to the community and the March Hare was his way of making this a reality.

Even though it has grown substantially over the years, the March Hare, especially in Corner Brook (the home of the Hare), has always been true to its origins as a gathering of friends and family, and a sharing of words and music.

It is this spirit, the spirit of Al Pittman himself that makes the March Hare the unique festival that it is. And it is in his memory that the March Hare committee, with the help of its performers and its patrons, does its best to keep this spirit alive.

nick avis