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2018 could be the last season for the March Hare as Rex Brown is calling it quits

Rex Brown holds a copy of his memoir ‘Out from the Harbour’ in this 2014 photo.
Rex Brown holds a copy of his memoir ‘Out from the Harbour’ in this 2014 photo.

Rex Brown is putting the arts community on notice, 2018 will be his last year running the March Hare and if anyone out there wants to take it on he’ll gladly hand over the reins.

Brown has been involved with the poetry festival for pretty much its entire run. The project manager said he’ll hang on for another 13 months and promises next year will be just as good as the first one 31 years ago. For right now though his focus is on this year’s festival, which runs from March 1-12.

Brown has announced his coming departure in the introduction to this year’s program. He said he’s letting people know in advance because putting together the festival is a big undertaking and if someone wants to pick up the pieces for 2019 then work has to start now. Funding applications for 2019 would have to go in throughout this year.

Looking back to its start by poet and author Al Pittman, Brown said he was Pittman’s right-hand man. When Pittman, who died in 2001, got sick, Brown took over and poured a lot into taking the festival to where it is today — shows in Corner Brook, all across the island, Mainland Canada and into the States.

Its longevity, he said, is a tribute to Pittman’s genius.

“Al Pittman had this idea that words were meant to be heard, not left on page to be read. They needed to be spoken.”

Properly produced in venues with professional sound systems and with quality writers and singers, he believed it would make for good entertainment. A vision of something that the general public would embrace and Brown said they have.

Over the years, Brown said the March Hare has always remained true to Pittman’s motivation. The shows being just a part of the big picture, as the March Hare is a gathering, a get-together, full of camaraderie and fellowship.

“It’s the same thing as a hockey game, you tweak it a little bit, but the game is either something you like or not,” he said.

Self-described as an “addictive organizer”, Brown puts in about 1,000 hours a year on the festival and takes pure pleasure doing so. A recent hip replacement means he can’t travel with this year’s festival, but he’s still front and centre in making sure it all goes off without a hitch.

When it’s all said and done Brown will miss it all — the shows, the venues, but most of all, the people, the contacts he’s made, the patrons, the dozens and dozens of writers and folk singers, all who he now calls friends.

As for what happens to the festival, Brown said he was never into legacy and succession plans so “I just have no ambitions whatsoever for it. What happens after depends on who inherits it.”

As for what the man who’s gone from teaching to writing a book himself will do next, Brown said “God only knows what I might turn to.

“Knowing me, I’m going to have passion for something and we’ll let that emerge and I’m certainly not going to worry about it.”

March Hare west coast events

March 9, Deer Lake

Deer Lake Motel, 8 p.m.

March 10, Corner Brook

Grenfell Campus, fine arts building atrium, 12:30

Corner Brook High School, 2 p.m.

Swirsky’s, 8 p.m.

March 11, Corner Brook

Rotary Arts Centre, 3 p.m.

Royal Canadian Legion, 8 p.m.

March 12, Corner Brook

Royal Canadian Legion, 2 p.m.

www.themarchhare.ca

Related stories:

Former Grenfell professor returning to province as reader in March Hare

High School Hare: Young writing duo’s work to premiere at March event

Brown has been involved with the poetry festival for pretty much its entire run. The project manager said he’ll hang on for another 13 months and promises next year will be just as good as the first one 31 years ago. For right now though his focus is on this year’s festival, which runs from March 1-12.

Brown has announced his coming departure in the introduction to this year’s program. He said he’s letting people know in advance because putting together the festival is a big undertaking and if someone wants to pick up the pieces for 2019 then work has to start now. Funding applications for 2019 would have to go in throughout this year.

Looking back to its start by poet and author Al Pittman, Brown said he was Pittman’s right-hand man. When Pittman, who died in 2001, got sick, Brown took over and poured a lot into taking the festival to where it is today — shows in Corner Brook, all across the island, Mainland Canada and into the States.

Its longevity, he said, is a tribute to Pittman’s genius.

“Al Pittman had this idea that words were meant to be heard, not left on page to be read. They needed to be spoken.”

Properly produced in venues with professional sound systems and with quality writers and singers, he believed it would make for good entertainment. A vision of something that the general public would embrace and Brown said they have.

Over the years, Brown said the March Hare has always remained true to Pittman’s motivation. The shows being just a part of the big picture, as the March Hare is a gathering, a get-together, full of camaraderie and fellowship.

“It’s the same thing as a hockey game, you tweak it a little bit, but the game is either something you like or not,” he said.

Self-described as an “addictive organizer”, Brown puts in about 1,000 hours a year on the festival and takes pure pleasure doing so. A recent hip replacement means he can’t travel with this year’s festival, but he’s still front and centre in making sure it all goes off without a hitch.

When it’s all said and done Brown will miss it all — the shows, the venues, but most of all, the people, the contacts he’s made, the patrons, the dozens and dozens of writers and folk singers, all who he now calls friends.

As for what happens to the festival, Brown said he was never into legacy and succession plans so “I just have no ambitions whatsoever for it. What happens after depends on who inherits it.”

As for what the man who’s gone from teaching to writing a book himself will do next, Brown said “God only knows what I might turn to.

“Knowing me, I’m going to have passion for something and we’ll let that emerge and I’m certainly not going to worry about it.”

March Hare west coast events

March 9, Deer Lake

Deer Lake Motel, 8 p.m.

March 10, Corner Brook

Grenfell Campus, fine arts building atrium, 12:30

Corner Brook High School, 2 p.m.

Swirsky’s, 8 p.m.

March 11, Corner Brook

Rotary Arts Centre, 3 p.m.

Royal Canadian Legion, 8 p.m.

March 12, Corner Brook

Royal Canadian Legion, 2 p.m.

www.themarchhare.ca

Related stories:

Former Grenfell professor returning to province as reader in March Hare

High School Hare: Young writing duo’s work to premiere at March event

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