Archive for August, 2009

August 25: Subway cars, winter cranes and personal theatre

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , on August 25, 2009 by theartbar

Rudy Fearon

The evening, hosted by Rudy Fearon, featured two women and one tall man with  markedly different delivery and style, who still touched on many of the same philosophical questions.

Each reader explored both broad and personal histories while confronting uncertainty and change.

Is impermanence a bird or a subway car?

– Stephen Humphrey

Kiki Mahy

Kiki Mahy sang and spoke her way through a set of emotionally charged poems which explored personal struggles and urban alienation. She also tackled the difficult  job of how to write about sex.

Kiki has this to say about what she does:

I wrote a poem a few years ago using fridge magnets.
Created a piece out of a series of random words.
That’s how life comes at me.
In a flash of random events and whispers.
I attempt to string together those seemingly unconnected moments through poetry.

Enjoy the day!


Chris Banks

Chris Banks says his poetry is concerned with “the impermanence of our modern lives. How our identities are shaped by the past and the present, memory and experience, the physical and the metaphysical.”

Chris’s perspective seemed to evolve between his last poetry collection, The Cold Panes of Surfaces, which portrays impermanence as a kind of modern disease, and his newest manuscript Winter Cranes, which relates it to a bird. The histories his poems examine have shifted their scope from personal to universal.


Monica Rosas

Mònica Rosas alternated between short form and epic. She began by delivering quixotic, haiku-like statements, before launching into a long, wide-ranging narrative about her complicated ancestry, backed by a Zimbabwean instrument called the mbira.

She ended with a couple of brief erotic poems, her nod to Cha Cha, a literary event she curates that celebrates women’s sexuality.

If I were to unravel my thumbprint
And you were to unlace yours,
We could tie them together
To thread a new lifeline
Into the knot of our past lives,
And give ourselves a new identity.

– Mònica Rosas


Todd Simmons

Todd Simmons


August 18: Art Bar gets countrified. Yes, ma’am!

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by theartbar

Cynthia Gould

From Johnny Cash to Crystal Gayle to Tammy Wynette, this evening was both a hootenany and a shindig! Everyone performed brilliantly, and truly did bring out the poetic essence of country music – the comedy, the heartache, the honest moments of every day life… all with a lilt and a twang.

Cynthia Gould


Keelan Miller

Keelan Miller is a standup comedian and a stand-up guy. He used to bartend at the Renaissance Café, so he’s already seen you cryin’ in yer beer.


Rahul Gupta

Rahul “That Brown Bastard” Gupta is a slammer, a Last Call Poet and a self-proclaimed curmudgeon. He runs the TBB, which I believe is some sort of hovercraft. He is also the person I turn to when most in need… he’s my drinking coach.


Edward and Lalo Nixon

Edward Nixon is a poet with three chapbooks under his belt. He runs the Livewords reading series, he’s sassy and he somehow found the time to have a son named Lalo and warp him into becoming a musician.


Herb Dale and Fran McCann

Uncle Herb Dale has been performing country, folk, and bluegrass in Toronto for over two decades and is now releasing the CD It Was About Time. He’s an anchor of the local indie music scene who’s out playing two or three nights a week. He hosts open stages, and warms open hearts, all with his much better half Fran McCann, that mellow ray of sun always shining on.  Like Toronto country’s version of Brangelina, they’re known as the McDales.

David Clink

David Clink runs, he’s a former Art Bar overlord, eats fruit out of season, runs the Rowers Pub Reading Series, and he believes his own press.


Arthur Renwick

Arthur Renwick is a modern Renaissance man… artist, musician and professor. He plays slide guitar Robert Johnson-style and he’s a sweetheart to boot.


Shawn Sage_7

Shawn Sage is one of those singer/songwriter types, a musical storyteller and if he’s been played on the CBC then he’s good enough for the likes of us. His new album is titled Misadventures in Song.



Pelayo Matute is one of those fancy choir trained polyphonic vocal people, a third of Kirsten Sandwich, he was a guest screamer on the new High Heels Lo Fi EP, and is becoming the master of drywall. He also bears a striking resemblance to the Marlboro man.


Next Art Bar, on August 25, features Kiki Mahy, Chris Banks and Mónica Rosas.

August 11: Globetrotting, beast-talking and arm-wrestling

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , on August 11, 2009 by theartbar

Myna Wallin

One of the pleasures the Art Bar provides is a chance to host out-of-town authors. This Tuesday’s poets all took the trip to Toronto from near and far: Andreas Gripp from London, Ont.; Stephanie Bolster from Montreal, Que. and Ian Pople from Manchester, England!

Andreas Gripp_8

Andreas Gripp has 11 poetry books to his credit. He read from his latest, Anathema: Poems Selected and New. He apologized at one point that his recent poems were “depressing.” Katherine L. Gordon, a reviewer for Ancient Heart Magazine (UK) describes Anathema as “a book of loss exquisitely delineated by the knife of the poet’s language.” Poignant, yes. Depressing, hardly. As to his philosophy about writing, Gripp feels that poetry should be more “accessible,” and that we “need to write for people, and not to impress other poets/editors/publishers/grant agencies.” Amen to that!


Stephanie Bolster

Stephanie Bolster is the award-winning author of three poetry collections: White Stone: The Alice Poems, Two Bowls of Milk, and Pavilion. She won the 1998 Governor General Award for White Stone, her first book. Bolster was the inaugural editor for Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books, 2008), and is co-editor of the anthology, Penned, Animals in Zoos (Signal Editions/Véhicule Press, 2009), coming out this fall.

Bolster read from her next intended poetry collection, tentatively titled A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth. Like Penned, this project tackles what she calls the “middle landscape” of zoos and gardens. Her quiet intensity as a reader held the room absolutely rapt. She signed books during every break, taking time to chat with each person who approached her. Bolster teaches Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal – those lucky students!

(an excerpt from)

If he took this city by the neck
and shook, would the strand break,
pearls roll into corners?


Ian Pople

Ian Pople is author of The Glass Enclosure, An Occassional Lean-To with Arc Publications and My Foolish Heart published by Flarestack. He teaches at the University of Manchester, where he won the Faculty of Humanities Teacher of the Year award in 2007. Pople’s accent has the crisp and clear enunciation most Canadians can only envy and marvel at. With delightful wit he explained that English poets are not meant to admit they like their own work. But he did confess to liking his own poetry, from time to time.

Pople left behind a copy of one if his books by mistake. Stephanie Bolster and I were forced to arm-wrestle for it. She won!


– Myna Wallin

Next week: Poetry Hoedown, featuring musicians Fran McCann & Uncle Herb Dale, singer-songwriter Shawn Sage, spoken word & slam poet Rahul Gupta, comedian Keelan Miller, poet-about-town Edward Nixon accompanied by Lalo Nixon-Pasten on guitar, former Art Bar Overlord David Clink, musician & artist Arthur Renwick… and maybe more!

August 4: Youth, death and travel on a rainy August night

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by theartbar

Valentino Assenza

Valentino Assenza here.

Last night’s weekly dose of Art Bar had it’s regular share of inspiring happenstances. I had the pleasure of hosting and, as always, had a lot of fun doing it. It was nice to see the usual suspects in attendance, along with some new faces taking in poetry on Tuesday night.

Josh Stewart

It was Josh Stewart‘s first feature at the Art Bar. This young poet has developed some serious skills thus far, and is bound for quite the evolution. He showed touching eloquence and honesty.

Josh Stewart tries to write poetry that is accessible and inviting, without sacrificing the intellectual side of the art.


Gillian Sze

Gillian Sze was another first-timer. The majority of her set came from Fish Bones, mostly inspired by art in galleries she visited while travelling. Gillian had an unassuming modesty about her, but a playful spirit shone through in both her witty banter and her poetry.

Why I write: I write because I can’t not. Obsession made me write. Questions about language’s boundaries made me write. And something else that I can’t name, something that keeps me looking around myself, something that keeps me distracted all the time.


Corrado Paina

Veteran poet Corrado Paina discussed death according to the French poet Mallarmé. Do people accept death or absorb it? His set was filled with wonderfully touching works about friends and family that have passed on.


The open mic featured the usual suspects, such as Edward Nixon, James Dewar, and Nicola Ward, but there were a couple of faces I had never seen before, including spoken word poet A-TON.

– Valentino Assenza

Next week: Ian Pople, Andrea Gripp, and Stephanie Bolster.

The Artists’ Health Centre Foundation

Posted in Community with tags on August 1, 2009 by theartbar

The Artists’ Health Centre Foundation (AHCF) supports the work of the Al and Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre (AHC) at Toronto Western Hospital, and in addition, is involved in outreach, education, and prevention services for the over 20,000 professional artists who live in the Toronto area.

The Al and Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre (AHC) is a facility in the Healthy Connections Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, which offers alternative/complementary and conventional health care for professional performing and creative artists.