“I came from the foundry with silver dollars in my eyes
and made for perdition like a northbound train on a southbound track…”
Thus begins Butterfly Tongue, Owen Sound Poet Laureate Richard-Yves Sitoski’s one-person show. This event is not a poetry reading but a full theatre piece featuring Sitoski’s original artwork, and seven original songs by Deep Blue Honey interpreted by David Hawkins and Louise Jarvis with the Assembled Angels choir.
The scene is Owen Sound in 1972, the year prohibition was repealed. We follow our hapless narrator—a welder at the Black Clawson-Kennedy foundry with a penchant for patronizing bootleggers—as he wanders through the city, licking his wounds after his recent doomed love with Susan, a truly remarkable woman cursed with addictions and blessed with an angel’s wings. The story is at once wrenching yet full of dry humour, as the tough narrator’s defences get broken down by his “contrarian dryad, court jester nymph, and anarchist fairy”, and his hard-boiled comments get replaced by sublime pathos.
The show is based on events from the author’s own life. It is a love letter to a woman out of place in this or any world, and it is also a love letter to the town in which it is set. Like Owen Sound itself, Butterfly Tongue’s grittiness is of the most lyrical sort.
The show contains a content warning for alcohol and drug use, as well as self-harm and overdose death, which are all alluded to but never described.
There are two showings in Owen Sound in the auditorium of the Grey Roots Museum and Archives (102599, Grey County Rd 18, Owen Sound): Thursday, June 8, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, June 10, at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $25 and available from the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are also available through Ticketpro at $25 plus HST plus surcharge. Maryann Thomas at the Ginger Press in Owen Sound has a few as well.