Culture & Conversation

An artist unlike the rest

Catherine (Cat) Kidd. Photo credit by Tristan Brand

Catherine (Cat) Kidd. Photo credit by Tristan Brand

Catherine Kidd’s long awaited combo CD/book launch of Hyena Subpoena – Seven Poems with Soundscapes took place at the new La Vitrola venue recently. Her entertaining launch of this 500 limited edition was literally “pas comme les autres.

Other such events have gifted authors of varying talents usually reading from their printed pages. But “Cat’s” memorized readings are a theatrical treat unto themselves.

Her unique voice, ranging from a velvety richness to occasional outbursts of throaty exuberance to quiet contemplation, is a marvel to hear. Her lithe body movement, nurtured by years of yoga, adds a gripping visual component. Recorded music by longtime collaborator Jacky Murda added to the total package.

All this enhances even more her blend of intelligence and wit, heightened by a vivid imagination and keen biological research. Kidd combines her knowledge of unusual animals (in “Sea Peach”) with her Dr. Seussian rhymes. In Hyena, she also has a passage inspired by William Blake’s classic “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright.” Her marathon trip to South Africa generated not only a performance poem to the generally loathed creature, but encounters with lions and elephants too.

A public performance in St. Henri in 2011, directed by Allison Darcy, who herself has South African connections, wove these jungle and veldt observations into Kidd’s remembrances of being a bullied artistic teen in Canada.

The event was coordinated by Wired on Words man Ian Ferrier, who opened with his own low-register song about drowning. Two nubile young ladies danced on a watery tarpaulin as he strummed.

Kaie Kellough demonstrated his incredible voice control utterings, followed by local band 10,000 Horses, whose singer turned out to be none other than fellow performance poet Alexis O’Hara.

Both Kidd and O’Hara were frequent performers at Danette McKay’s popular Kiss My Cabaret nights which ended in 2008 after an 8 year bimonthly run. And lo and behold, Ms. McKay was in the audience to inform us KMC aficionados that she is reviving it in September at La Sala Rosa, on a quarterly basis.

Many other theatre folk were present, a testament to Kidd’s admiration by her peers. Spotted were Johanna Nutter, Bronna Levy, Patricia Summersett, Julia Ainsworth and, from the UK (and in town for Fringe), Jem Rolls. Harvey and Judith Bauer of the New City Gas venue, where Hyena Subpoena had a presentation in 2010, were also on hand.

Copies of Hyena Subpoena – Seven Poems with Soundscapes (CD/book) can be obtained directly from Catherine Kidd. Visit her website for more information.

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