Jazz Guys hosts a night of poems and paintings

Jernigan, Claytor successfully mix media.

Sackville’s newest bar, Jazz Guys, took a break from its usual record-spinning and cocktail-serving agenda to host an evening of words and art that featured poetry by Amanda Jernigan and paintings by Jon Claytor. The event, which took place on Saturday October 19, marked the Sackville launch of Jernigan’s second book of poetry, All the Daylight Hours.  

Jernigan, a Mount Allison alumna, began the evening by introducing her newest book of poetry. All the Daylight Hours evolved alongside her first book of poetry, Groundwork, published in 2011. The poems featured in the collection were conceived over a period of twelve years, and explore human interaction with history, nature, language, love, and loss. Jernigan read a selection of poems from both books. 

Jernigan’s easy and open manner made her reading feel more like a conversation than a formal poetry reading, which afforded her work an equally accessible quality. This aesthetic of intimacy was an appropriate accompaniment to Jernigan’s newly-published body of work, which is an admittedly more personal collection than Groundwork, its predecessor. While her first book is largely composed of mythopoetic poems that draw upon classical traditions and stories, All the Daylight Hours is a subtle, yet sensitive intermingling of the philosophical with the experiential. In this book, readers encounter the same poetic and intellectual traditions they’ve come to anticipate from Jernigan, but here we’re also acquainted with the poet’s own experiences with things like marriage, motherhood, the town of Sackville, and her career as a poet.  

Claytor’s artwork provided a fitting backdrop for Jernigan’s words. On display were two large-scale portraits of sullen-looking adolescents with facial expressions the viewer longed to decipher, and two semi-abstract representations of rabbit forms. Although the poems Jernigan shared with the audience were not directly influenced by the paintings displayed in the bar, the thematic and aesthetic similarities between the works were strikingly evident. Claytor’s images of rabbits lost in a limbo of time and space echoed Jernigan’s traverse through personal and classical history, and appropriately illuminated both artists’ preoccupations with human interaction with nature and animals.

Both Jernigan and Claytor are characteristically collaborative artists, and often create their work with the idea of sharing an interpretative and theatrical process with other artists. Jernigan’s books of poetry are accompanied by woodcuts by her husband, John Haney. 

“I think interpretation is one of the great creative forms,” Jernigan said of her collaboration with visual artists. “Both poem and image are a creation and interpretation of the world, but they both sort of interpret each other at the same time.”

Jazz Guys—also currently known as Thunder and Lightening, and more simply, Pub—is run by Paul Henderson and Jon Claytor and is the newest addition to the Sackville bar scene. The open layout and relaxed atmosphere lends itself easily to artistic gatherings, and I hope to see more events coming out of this venue—not only because I still haven’t tried their Jazz Guys cocktail, but also because Sackville needs a venue that caters to different kinds of artistic events and partnerships than the ones the town is already familiar with.

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