March Hare (festival)
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The March Hare is Atlantic Canada's largest poetry festival. It started in 1987 or 1988 as an unpretentious evening of poetry and entertainment at the Blomidon Golf and Country Club in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, designed to appeal to a general audience. The Hare takes place in early March each year. Loosely associated with the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University through the leadership of poet-organizer Al Pittman and the involvement of other writers who taught at the College, the Hare was equally the brain-child of teacher Rex Brown and club manager George Daniels. Although still anchored in Corner Brook, the event has evolved into a moveable feast of words and music that annually travels to St. John's and Gander, Newfoundland, Toronto, Ontario, and other venues, provincial, national and international. In 2007, The March Hare visited seven centres in Ireland, including Dublin and Waterford. In 2011, March Hares were mounted in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
As its reputation has grown, the March Hare has attracted increasingly high-profile poets, authors, musicians and storytellers, featuring in recent years Michael Ondaatje, Alistair MacLeod, Paul Durcan, Lorna Crozier, Patrick Lane, Susan Musgrave, Stephen Reid, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Wayne Johnston, Stan Dragland, Ron Hynes, Michael Crummey, Emiko Miyashita, Glen Sorestad, Michael Winter, Louise Halfe (Sky Dancer), John Ennis, Lisa Moore, and many others. Early contributors to the March Hare included Al Pittman, John Steffler, Randall Maggs, Adrian Fowler, David "Smoky" Elliott, Des Walsh, Clyde Rose, Nick Avis, and Pamela Morgan. Many continue to participate in the festival today.
The March Hare takes its name from the character in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. According to Rex Brown, the name is also intended as a pun on the words here (celebrating a sense of place) and hear (since its focus is the spoken word).
In 2017, organizer Rex Brown announced that 2018 would be his last year running the festival, and said that he would be happy for someone else to take over. It held its final event at Corner Brook in March 2018, after a tour that included stops in New York City, Ontario, Nova Scotia and other locations in Newfoundland.
- McKenzie, Stephanie, "Interview with Rex Brown", in McKenzie, O'Dowd-Smith and Thackray, Living at the Edge, Living at the Centre (Waterford and Corner Brook: Waterford Institute of Technology and Scop Productions, 2006), 40.
- Fowler, Adrian, "Introduction", The March Hare Anthology" (St. John's: Breakwater Books, 2007), v-vi.
- Crocker, Diane (Feb 19, 2017). "2018 could be the last season for the March Hare as Rex Brown is calling it quits". The Western Star. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- Squibb, Mark (9 February 2018). "March Hare to kick off Newfoundland tour leg in Arnold's Cove March 5". The Telegram. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Newfoundland's March Hare hops off into the winter night". The Sunday Edition. CBC Radio. Retrieved 25 March 2018.