My first encounter with a recitation was in a high school English class. The teacher stood before the teenaged audience, and with a booming voice and exaggerated actions, engaged us with a spirited delivery of The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service. As the rhythmic pattern of the poem bounced along, the story of old Sam unfolded, leaving us completely spellbound and entranced. And when the last line was spoken we leapt to our feet in thunderous applause. When I received my review copy of Don’t Be Talkin’ by Harry Ingram, I reflected back on this wonderful memory and immediately opened the book to have a read. I was not disappointed.
Newfoundland and Labrador have been blessed with a distinct storytelling tradition. Such literary performances are woven into the cultural fibre of our province and have existed ever since the first European settlers came to our shores in the fifteenth century. In fact, it has been said that the unofficial history of Newfoundland lives in the songs, stories and recitations that can be heard in the kitchens of outport communities and upon the stages of organized events like the St. John’s Storytelling Festival. Though many of the old-timers recite poems that shed light on days gone by, Harry Ingram is a storyteller whose recitations speak to a childhood growing up in Arnold’s Cove and the funny side of everyday life. While growing up in this Placentia Bay community, Ingram listened to recitations on radio and record and was inspired by his Uncle Mose who would write and perform his own recitations. In this debut publication, Ingram has done a superb job in writing and presenting a compilation of light-hearted, humorous poems recounting everything from Great-Uncle John’s Christmas to the troubles with remote controls. With a few more serious, short stories thrown into the mix, Don’t Be Talkin’ is a fun and entertaining book for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and for those who just want a good laugh.
Everyone knows one, / And that there’s no doubt, / Someone all negative, / Yes, down in the mouth. // I know one quite well, / He’s my Great-Uncle John, / But it’s not of his wit, / Or his charm I’m so fond. // But crooked as sin, / That’s a way to describe ‘im, / Opinions he got, / And don’t care if you like ’em. // Yes, he’s that friggin’ crooked, / I’ll tell you right now, / If he died tomorrow, He’d be screwed in the ground. //
Ingram’s topics run the gamut! From humorous recitations on parenting such as “Good Night Little One” and, my personal favourite, “Don’t Ask” to the rum-running adventures of a Skipper from Placentia Bay in “Just Inside The Gate”. Who wouldn’t be entertained by a most unfortunate labour dispute at the North Pole by some very tired reindeer in the recitation entitled “Havoc At The North Pole” and in “The Square Root of Pie” readers will delight in reading about the stolen pies by a clever baker from Marg’s Bakery. Ingram really decides to “ham it up” when he tells us about the three-legged pig known as Sir Frances Bacon in the poem “The One About The Pig” and readers will be left impressed by the enterprising group of ladies who barter with tea buns in “Trouble With Tea Buns”. Skipper Bill’s tale of a big bull moose named Jerome in the poem “Jerome” is hilarious and of course, in this year of 2021 no book of recitations could be complete without a pandemic poem called “The Other End of This”. On a more serious note, Ingram also includes some heartfelt stories and tributes to people, like his Dad and sister, who have influenced his life.
You know, being a parent, / Sometimes you don’t know, / If you’re doing it right, / So you go with the flow. // Like a little while back, / About a month or two, / I was fixing the mower, / Or at least trying to. // When a voice behind me, / Made me quite perplexed, / As my eight-year-old daughter asked, / Daddy, what’s sex? //
Don’t Be Talkin’ ~ Recitations and Other Foolishness From Newfoundland and Labrador is a fantastic read!! This is an all-ages show contained between the covers of 180 pages; an open ticket that will leave you busting a gut and pulling off the shelf over and over again.
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- Publisher : Flanker Press (May 12 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 181 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1774570289
- ISBN-13 : 978-1774570289
Stephanie Collins is a retired school administrator and teacher from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. A lover of literature and an avid reader, Stephanie loves travelling, outdoor activities, and riding shotgun in her RV or on the back of a motorcycle. Stephanie enjoys writing about her travels, reviewing new titles, and is an aspiring children’s book writer. Her reviews can be found at Fireside Collections and you can follow her on Twitter @MrsCollinsNL.