The Olive Reading Series was founded in 2000 by me, Roger Davis, Adam Dickinson, Jonathan Meakin, and Andy Weaver. At that time the only readings in town consisted of 4 or 5 poets each reading for 4 to 6 minutes. We liked poetry and we liked sitting around in bars so we decided to combine these two passions. Martini's Bar and grill in Downtown Edmonton liked the cut of our jib, or the fact that we drank a lot, and let us host a reading there on the second Tuesday of every month through the fall and winter. Martini's, thus the Olive.
We also firmly believed that poetry on the page offered a different type of experience from poetry read aloud. We decided to combine these two things as well and offer a free chapbook to everyone who came to the reading. Putting the chapbooks together was my job. I had fooled around a bit during my undergraduate years using PageMaker 5 to put together chapbooks, pamphlets, and broadsides. I somehow managed to get my hands on an educational copy of Illustrator in 2000 and the long learning process filled with much bad design began.
I remained on the editorial board doing chapbooks until 2006, even putting together two longer collections of work by Don McKay and Shani Mootoo, before work pressures and a second child pulled my attention elsewhere. And the Olive continued.
By 2009, all of the original editors had moved on and new folks stepped in and kept the series going as strong as ever. Flash forward to 2016 and with two teenagers and different circumstances at work, I found myself back with the Olive, and back doing the chapbooks. Check out the Olive Website for more information.
One of the ways I spent my creative time in between Olives was learning how to be a photographer and for the final 6 readers of this season, I used original images for the covers instead of stock. I think they turned out okay. Regardless, they were fun as heck to put together. I tell you, there are days where I seriously wished I'd gone into book design instead of the civil service.