Technology has long been used to connect members of Surrey Muse, but not quite like this.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the interdisciplinary arts and literature group quickly went online with its monthly gatherings, first on March 27.
Typically, a room at City Centre library is where members of the group meet on the fourth Friday of each month, save for December.
Now, the virtual gatherings of guest authors, poets, artists and performers are posted to the Surrey Muse Facebook and Youtube pages, including a third “watch party” planned for Friday, May 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. – the group’s 93rd gathering since the fall of 2011.
“We were using technology to bring featured presenters from out of town, country, continent,” Rafique explained, “but we did not allow recording the events either in video, audio or images because we felt it had a negative impact on the quality of discussion in the room – a kind of a ‘Burning Man’ concept.
“Then, in the middle of March, COVID-19 struck, our permanent venue Surrey Library was closed down, and staying home was/is the best course of action,” she added. “In a hurry, we moved to a virtual form of gathering via Facebook, where all presentations were video-recorded. No discussion took place, but it still became a beautiful experience.”
Links and more event details can be found at surreymuse.wordpress.com.
The May 22 event, hosted by Sana Janjua, will feature poet Joanna Lilley, performer Haytham Alhamaydeh, featured art by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) and open-mic performer Nefertiti SheLa Morrison. As always, the event is free but donations are encouraged.
Over the past decade, more than 200 authors, poets, artists and performers have presented at Surrey Muse gatherings, according to a list of names posted to surreymuse.wordpress.com.
The group’s second virtual gathering, on April 24, featured host Jovian Radheshwar, author Jessica Barratt, poet Elaine Woo and ceramicist Heidi McKenzie, among others.
Radheshwar is a professor of political science at Douglas College in New Westminster and also a member of the rap group Endangered Species.