This ain’t none o’ your daddy’s cafe readin’

By Karoline Czerski

“We met in a bathtub at a party.” They bonded in a creative writing class that demanded mandatory pub attendance. Now, they will blow Calgary away by delivering warm words on a cold February night at Cafe Mediterranean.

Andre Rodrigues, Jeremy Leipert and Chris Ewart are three of the city’s hottest new writers, bred by the very same Kobe Beef as you and I. What you will sample at Cafe Mediterranean on February 20 is what emerged from the depths of English and Creative Writing courses at the U of C: three distinct writing styles, starting with Rodrigues’ “absurd realism.”

“The bastard son of magic realism,” explains Rodrigues, “where absurd things happen matter-of-factly.” While talking cows are admittedly a part of Rodrigues world, Ewart thrives on minimalism.

“It’s definitely minimalist,” confirms Leipert of Ewart’s work.

“It has a certain poetic rhythm,” adds Rodrigues.

“I don’t want to hold your hand all the way through,” says Ewart, trying to explain his style. “If you’re lost, too bad for you.”

For Leipert, bringing life to the page is his deep conviction.

“My ultimate goal is to convince a reader that the book itself is alive.” Having taken his inspiration from authors like Mark Danielewski, Leipert is driven to transform the text into an organism.

“It is writing which refers to its own construction,” notes Leipert.

“It’s metafictive,” confirm Rodrigues and Ewart.

Between the absurd, the minimalist, and the metafictive, all these guys really want to do is convey their passion to others.

“Our common ideal is to make reading accessible, to make it cool,” articulates Ewart. “And we’re charming,” pipes in Rodrigues.

Charm helps when reading a piece of text, because, as Leipert confirms; “reading is a separate artform than writing.” These talented writers can attribute their literary confidence to the thriving writing community in which they have had a chance to grow.

“Two rich benefactors have donated over three million to the Creative Writing program,” the three explain. “And thus the program has produced and attracted some amazing talent.”

Writers such as Michael Ondaatje in 1994 and, recently, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka are among the most notable guests hosted by the acclaimed Creative Writing program.

Over 80 portfolios are submitted every year for any one of the creative writing workshops, but only 20 students are admitted.

“I started writing when most guys were thinking about getting laid,” admits Ewart, “at a rather young age.” His two friends can relate. “I wrote my first story in grade three…” trails Leipert.

With experience and charisma supporting them, these men plan to take the next step. All are applying into the MA programme in English, and hope to go further by writing, teaching, and creating.

“You just need to have the guts to put your work out,” shrugs Leipert.

What will make their literary reading at the Cafe Mediterranean so attractive?

“While most readings are super gay except when there’s free booze, ours is like super important literary news,” laughs Ewart.

Rodrigues takes to philosophizing. “It’s like this charisma ball,” he says, “we feed off of each other.”

They didn’t actually meet in a bathtub, but in class. Same difference. The point is that they sure as hell know each other inside out. Side by side, they will deliver their passions and their ideas through their writings, supporting each other, laughing and, occasionally, busking for drinks. The otherwise free event begins at 8 p.m. on February 20 at Cafe Mediterranean.

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