October 20: A trifecta of tale-tellers from the dreamy west coast

Poetry is often a home-town phenomenon, so it’s often a gamble out-of-town poets to stand alone in an unfamiliar city. Nonetheless, three – count ’em three – traveling Vancouver bards were greeted with enthusiasm by Art Bar regulars with a warmth that belied the dipping temperatures outside. Gentlemen, welcome to Toronto.

Photos and interviews once again by the inimitable Cynthia Gould.

Psychedelic versions by Stephen Humphrey.

George McWhirter

George McWhirter is Vancouver’s first poet Laureate. He reached that storied city by way of Belfast, Ireland, which occupies some poems in his collection, The Incorrections, and rumbles through his unmistakable speaking style and knack for a cracking good yarn.

George says his poetic mission is “to make sense out of the senses — like the cat, to get crazy leaps to fall on all five feet, then the sixth. Consider my poetry a cat with six feet.”

Here is one of his slender sonnets, which appears on Vancouver buses.


Where I ramble
By Jericho in the March
Mist and murk to take stock,
I glimpse an eagle perched
On a hemlock,
Above a bramble
Patch and rabbit that cannot dissemble
Its giddy nibbles in the grass, a pet bunny,
Its bum left to bob like a yoo-hoo to a tummy
In a tree. Fast food, it will tremble
And jerk, then clog the eagle’s throat
Without redress, like a fur
On a hamburger.


Sean McGarragle

Sean McGarragle has a serious side, and apparently he reserves it for Toronto, which he considers a tad less giggly than his adopted hometown, Vancouver. As both national slam master for Vancouver’s poetry team and a mental health and addictions worker, Sean adores what is beautiful and upbeat about Lotusland, while devoting some sad words to the poor and desperate among the city’s population.

“I tend to mix the severity of some facets of life with the comedy that gets me through my days,” is how he describes the mix.

Sean is also responsible for the longest off-season Mother’s Day greeting on record.


Chris Gilpin

In true Blakean fashion Chris Gilpin urges listeners to “put their finger in the wonder socket.” He also encourages stand-up comedians and poets to do it like the plant community and cross-pollinate. Chris wants people to spend seven dollars on the book he published with co-Vancouverite Sean McGarragle titled Seven Dollar Bill. He also strongly advises people to visit the website vancouverpoetryhouse.com, which he curates, to learn all they need to know about the Vancouver poetry scene.


Psychedelic version


One Response to “October 20: A trifecta of tale-tellers from the dreamy west coast”

  1. […] Billy Jean, K’naan’s “Somalia” and a poem by previous Art Bar feature Chris Gilpin. He’s written probably the only love poem to mention eye-gouging. He also put down heartfelt […]

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