Archive for February, 2010

February 23: Thingness, peopleness and the world inside this one

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , on February 23, 2010 by theartbar

Is there a world inside this one?

Can we see the universe in a grain of sand? How about in a paperclip? A barbershop? The colour yellow?

Would only some type of über-nerd ask these sorts of questions?

If so, we at the Art Bar are happy to provide a welcoming environment where literary geeks and metaphysics nerds can run free with sweet potato fries on the menu and lots of beer on tap.

Stephen Humphrey

Cynthia Gould

The evening was once again hosted by the always witty and photogenic Cynthia Gould.

Suzanne Buffam

Up from Chicago where she teaches creative writing, Suzanne Buffam treated everyone to morsels of philosophy that wound up as love poems and one-liners just this side of tears. Her writing explored burning houses, heartbreak’s correlation to fruit and why Parisian waiters won’t congratulate you for chewing for chewing your food.

Regarding her verse, Suzanne says, “Basically, my poetry is clear, I hope, and plain-spoken enough for a child to read. If it presents the reader with any difficulties, they tend to be of the sort that lie beneath its surfaces. In general, I’m interested in paradox, the way a poem can assert seemingly opposite truths at once. The way life does.”


Aislinn Hunter

Aislinn Hunter practices ‘thing theory‘ which means, among other things, she’s equipped to spend an hour considering paperclips and organize a conference on the colour yellow. She loves the written word enough to recite her table of contents. She suggests further study of the word ‘listen’.

Can the ‘paratext’ fit on a t-shirt? How about a thumbtack?


Yehuda Fisher

Poet, musician, youth slam host and self-proclaimed ‘meta-geek’ Yehuda Fisher, a.k.a. PAN, closed the evening with energy and emotion. His moods ranged from unrequited love, to political angst, to  a laugh or two at his own expense.



February 16: The Art Bar’s 8th Annual Black History Night

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by theartbar

Since 1976 Canada has made February Black History Month, to celebrate the struggles and achievements of African-Canadians.

For the past eight years the Art Bar has devoted a night in February to poetry from Toronto’s black community, hosted and organized by team member Rudy Fearon.

Rudy Fearon

Host Rudy Fearon opened the evening with a short poem of his own – as always, summing up a big a idea in very few words.



Leviathan says he always chooses the “path of greatest resistance.” He says he likes to do spoken word because on stage is the only time when people actually listen to him. He is also the third member of the urban poetry trio, the Dream Chasers.


Black History Night was Isiri Makeba’s first-ever poetry feature. Fittingly her poems were about opening up and finding new courage.


Nisa Lawson

Nisa Lawson says her poetry takes her inspiration from “timeless music”. You may hear Motown classics and little-known R&B favourites (not-to-mention the Jeffersons theme), but she confesses a passion for the written word. Not to mention a definite dislike for one previous office job.



Unblind works in the African Griot tradition who has featured as a performer in happenings such as the Toronto Urban Music Festival, Afrofest ant When Brothers Speak. He’s also a playwright, recording artist (in four languages) and a Green Party candidate.


J. Nichole Noel

Award-winning performance poet and children’s writer J. Nichole Noel is making and touring with storybooks and CDs while multitasking as a mother. Yet still she tells us, “words are all I have.”


Rudy Fearon

A fitting ender to the night was its opening voice, Mr. Rudyard Fearon himself, since so much of his verse is steeped in Black History, especially the content of his wonderful CD Free Soil.


February 9: A night in red satin… and black velvet

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on February 9, 2010 by theartbar

Candles, chocolate, light jazz, wine, loads of ambiance… and a crooner in black velvet.

The Art Bar Love Lounge featured six of Toronto’s best romantic poets sharing their work.

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

Priscila Uppal started off the night. Among her five collections of poetry are Live Coverage and Ontological Necessities, from Exile Editions. This year she will be releasing Successful Tragedies: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books) and Traumatology (Exile Editions). She is the Canadian Athletes poet-in-residence for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, and shared some of her sports themed poetry.

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

Priscila was surprised at the musical intro by crooner Romeo Satin – I think she actually blushed.

(Photo by Stephen Humphrey)

Sandra Kasturi’s poetry collection The Animal Bridegroom has an introduction by Neil Gaiman, so she pretty much wins at life. She is currently working on another poetry collection Come Late to the Love of Birds, and two novels – one about a lady detective, and one a steampunk epic. Her poetry dazzled the room!

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

Norm Cristofoli runs and Labour of Love. Due to his online bios being pretty ambiguous, Romeo Satin began his intro with a quick boogie, then rewrote the lyrics to Copacabana to feature Norm’s awesomeness. Norm’s piece “My Heart Goes Boom” was a highlight of the evening, with the entire crowd chanting along.

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

David Silverberg is the Managing Editor of and the Artistic Director and Founder of Toronto Poetry Slam.

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

Romeo Satin and the “Rome-ettes” broke out the theme from Shaft for him. His love poem to “Eggnog” was incredibly dramatic and heartfelt.

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

Lara Bozabalian is the author of four chapbooks, and her first full length collection The Cartographer’s Skin will be published by Piquant Press this month. She is the head of English at a public high school by day, and a member of the Toronto Poetry Slam Team by night. Her quietly intense poems were dreamy and riveting.

(Photo by Pete de Lepper)

Amanda Hiebert is an actor, writer, and slam poet. She likes roller coasters, peanut brittle, her grandfather’s laugh, old hats, and kissing cute boys. These are her muses. Luckily for those in the Art Bar Love Lounge, she also likes sharing her soul. Amanda read a series of poems showing how her relationships and heart have evolved over the years.

Thanks to everyone who came out, to the amazing open mic readers, and to Romeo Satin (aka Pelayo Matute) for the brilliantly stylish and hilarious musical introductions.

~ Cynthia

February 2: Howling in the dog days of February

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on February 2, 2010 by theartbar

Some people like poets who are talkers while others don’t. Some listeners want an uninterrupted stream of verse while others like hearing from the personalities behind all the typing.

In either case, it was clear that the three otherwise very different poets liked talking – Bruce Meyer about the snows of Barrie, his mishaps with publishers and his dogs; Bunny Iksov about experiences and personalities that inform her poetry and Sankofa about the failings of language to describe the world and its failures of justice.

Stephen Humphrey

No-one can accuse Barrie-based poet and pedagogist Bruce Meyer of missing the little things. He doesn’t mind devoting an entire book of poems to the subject of bread, a table he wrote on as a child or a volume of verses to his dog Daisy, accompanied by epigraphs from Shakespeare. His poems are epic odes to daily life and love poems to a cellar of books.


Vaughan poet Bunny Iskov spoke about seasons – sapphire and otherwise, old loves, lost friends and departed mentors such as beloved Toronto poet Ted Plantos, the first lifetime member of her brainchild, the Ontario Poetry Society. Also, in their own gentle, observational way Bunny’s poems appealed quietly and plaintively for justice.


Sankofa says he doesn’t write poems “for jokes”. Not that his sets are not full of one-liners. As he questions absurdities he finds in words of the comfortably powerful humour and indignation mix. As a sort of standup revolutionary Sankofa takes aim at many headlines, including press about Haiti – a nation he calls rich in culture, but poorly treated the continental neighbours who ignore the island state between disasters.


Hear Sankofa’s poem “Haiti” from his CD, Ancestral Callin