Archive for January, 2010

January 26: When is a scientist a poet and when is a poem an experiment?

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by theartbar

Not only can poetry and science mix, but apparently they can mingle. A woman who taught psychology and a medical technician write verse which touches thoughtfully and beautifully on many topics while the trained asthete among the night’s trio subjects words, letters and lyricism itself to scientific rigour.

Three clever people, each reaching outside of their respective box, graced the Art Bar with their words (and sounds).

Stephen Humphrey

Sonja Greckol

The body elicits many concerns for Sonja Greckol. It’s a thing of erotic desire, a political landscape and a subject of cold inquiry for scientists, journalists and artists such as Cuban-born performance artist Ana Mendieta. A one-time psychologist, Greckol also examined the ethics of researchers by revisiting the controversial Milgram obedience experiments of the 1970s.

Note: sharp ears will catch Christian Bök’s appears as a background character in Sonja’s interview.


Weyman Chan

When Calgary poet Weyman Chan is not writing poems, he’s busy performing histological and electron microscopic tests in a windowless basement of the local healthcare system. It seems odd at first that a person in such an analytical profession would write with such minute, tender concern about the patients who come through his lab as anonymous samples.

He makes them sound almost like children on their first day of school.

As the reading begins, Weyman says, “Any place where writing and poetry are celebrated is almost like family. It is family.”

Midway through he states that poetry “brings you back to a place where innocence rules.”

In his poetry everyone seems innocent and everyone seems like family.


Christian Bök

Christian Bök amazed everybody in 2002 when Eunoia, a little book of experimental writing won the Griffin Poetry Prize. Eunoia has since gone to outsell other Canadian poetry books and last year ranked on the UK bestseller list. His current ambition is to encode a book-length poem into the DNA of the world’s toughest organism.

Once a scion of the Toronto lit scene, Bök is now a creative writing instructor at the University of Calgary, with a lot of good things to say about Calgary’s writing community. He returned to Toronto for one night to thrill and amaze a packed house at the Art Bar.


To hear about Christian’s collaboration with the AI named Alice, visit the blog, I, Sexy Robot.


January 19 – Road stories and body parts

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on January 19, 2010 by theartbar

There’s not that many Art Bar nights where you get full-costume reading and Hawaiian music played on a saw. It was also a night of sex, scatololgy, cheap hotels and the trashy side of civics.

But for some reason things kept coming back to road stories, which ranged from street vending to bus trips. Obviously, what happens on the road, doesn’t always stay on the road. Not when people write it down.

Stephen Humphrey

Richard Greene

Richard Greene is not related to author, playwright and literary critic Graham Greene but he nonetheless traveled across the United States by train and bus on a pilgrimage to learn about the author for his biography, Graham Greene: A Life in Letters.  What Richard did not expect was to come back with a lot of strange travel stories about Greyhound bus rides and low-end hotels. He read from the resulting road epic about cheap, dirty, uncomfortable places where gut-level humanity is on display.


Cathy Petch

For Cathy Petch, city streets are the home or shitty jobs, the human body and relationships are two things to dissect and music is something to be played on a saw. Eleven visits to Graceland… really?

About her own writing, Cathy says, Kurt Vonnegut‘s views on writing have always influenced my own. He strove to write so that anyone could access it. I write simply, openly, autobiographically, and comedically . I write to perform. I write to entertain and bring insight.


David Bateman

David Bateman knows how to make an entrance. And how to give props. His reading paid tribute to King Tut, P.K. Page, Kate McGarrigle, the brutalist architecture of Yonge-Dundas Square, the statue of buttock-inspecting magistrate Alexander Wood and a talking trash can. Despite proclaiming he only writes about himself, Bateman managed to insert social commentary about the environment, homophobia and war. Talking trash can be a complex thing for this poet.


January 12: 11th Annual Art Bar Discovery Night hosted by Nancy Bullis

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , on January 12, 2010 by theartbar

L to R
Eytan Millstone (Eytan Crouton), Nancy Bullis, Jennifer Marston


Sixteen poets presented their own work and were judged by audience ballots during the 11th Annual Art Bar Discovery Night.

The talent and variety of this entire group of readers was staggering.

The competition was intense, but we carefully counted the ballots and brought it down to ten readers. Another round, another vote, and three readers read in the final round.

Nancy & Cynthia counted the votes twice.

There was a TIE for first place!

Congratulations to Eytan Millstone and Jennifer Marston, who will be our Art Bar feature readers on Tuesday April 20th – don’t miss it!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and we hope to see you all out again next year!

Also, Nancy will be interviewing the winners on her HOWL program on – check their listings to find out when.

Cynthia Gould

January 5: Once again the usual suspects ring in the New Year

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2010 by theartbar

Every January the Art Bar team figures it’s fair play to book ourselves to face the first shaky, holidayed-out audience of the New Year.

We call this Audience Appreciation Night. It’s our chance to show everyone that our work on the series is a labour of love since we, ourselves, are poets.

This January 5 was a pleasant, intimate night – a smattering of friends sharing kind words, bon mots and an appreciation of a wonderful Toronto singing duo.

Now that we’ve done our thing, the decade is permitted to begin.

Stephen Humphrey

Stephen Humphrey used to like manipulating tape. Now he likes cutting-and-pasting digital wave-forms. Mostly he’s satisfied to edit the Art Bar podcasts, but sometimes he gets out of hand, as evidenced by the following. Special thanks for Phoebe Tsang and Keram Malicki-Sanchez, who were sonically kidnapped for this piece.


Francine Lewis

The Art Bar’s go-to person on the finances side, Francine Lewis is a prolific poet and science fiction writer. She took to the Art Bar stage twice this year as a feature: in July to launch her poetry chapbook, ‘Eurydice Dreams’ in July, and this past December, on the Dead Poets Night, paying tribute to an early literary hero, Robert Louis Stevenson.


Myna Wallin

January 5 was Myna Wallin‘s last appearance as an Art Bar board member. A busy writer and editor, Myna will devote more attention to her career. She’s got several titles to edit for the Tightrope Books imprint and she’ll soon release her first book of fiction. Meanwhile, the rest of us are scrambling around to pick up all the work she used to do around here. All the best, Myna.


Graydon James and Laura Spink

Singer-guitarist Graydon James and vocalist-multi-instrumentalist Laura Spink, pared down from the five-piece, Graydon James & the Young Novelists, bookended the night wonderfully with warm, melodic songs and wonderful close harmonies.

Rudy Fearon

Rudy Fearon is such a steady, silent presence at nearly every Art Bar night, you can sometimes forget what a wonderful performer he is, and the quiet power of his short, moving, deceptively simple poems.


Cynthia Gould

Throughout the year Cynthia Gould has given countless gigawatts of energy to Art Bar audiences and an inhuman amount of work behind the scenes. On January she gave the room her heart. In her own words, “I read really rambly, insane personal junk and I hope you’re drinking.”


Rocco de Giacomo time on the Art Bar board began at last year’s Audience Appreciation Night and we’ve seen quite a lot more of him this year. In November he was around to read from his new book, Ten Thousand Miles Between Us, and then he was back in December to read Robert Frost’s “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”. Here he is again. Luckily he owns different shirts.