Archive for March, 2010

March 30: Murder, meetups and the mystery man

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on March 30, 2010 by theartbar

Stephen Humphrey

(Photo by Cynthia Gould)


It was a night for mysterious strangers, like the guy with a flashing badge who apparently shepherded an online meetup group to Clinton’s.

And then there’s the mystery man who appears like a well-dressed phantom in every reader photo.

Will we ever know his true identity?

Which of our featured readers was he interested in?

Will we ever see his like again?

For more about this and other grand mysteries of our time, read on. We dare you.

Stephen Humphrey

Sandy Pool

(Photos by Stephen Humphrey)

Sandy Pool was recently dismayed to realize that a lot of her poems are about murder, extinction and death. Nonetheless she seems to have a lot of friends. The night was populated overwhelmingly by people from her online meetup group. And folks say the web discourages live interaction.

Here is an excerpt from Sandy’s book Exploding Into Night (Guernica Editions) in what she calls her “trademark stunted lyric style”:

Suddenly, it is cold. The moon arrives, heaves her swollen belly.
I never expected the slight indifference, ice in our hair.
What is it you want to say? Say it.
I have never loved you properly, or tried to.


John Toone

John Toone writes prairie poetry. For real. Poems about how prairies are not just prairies, but also tall trees, grandparents, outlaws and cities. Toone’s prairie even shows up in graphic novels, or picture books as he calls them.

“I write about our place in nature,” he says. “And how a small town like Winnipeg distorts our sense of a true story.”

John doesn’t like to drink alone. But then, who does?


Dave Morris

Dave Morris is a storyteller and improviser who thinks performance is poetry, love is comedy and babies are stupid (but we shouldn’t treat them that way).

He’ll sell you flash-drives instead of CDs, but he’s not going to take his shirt off.



March 23: Poets speaking truth to error

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

It was a night of pedagogy in many ways, in no small way because all the poets are all employed in some way as teachers – in high school, university and nonfiction works now considered standard texts.

Teaching is more than just telling facts, however.

As Tom Wayman says, regarding his post-secondary students, “In teaching I try to get them to say their own truth.”

Stephen Humphrey

Lara Bozabalian

Lara Bozabalian was a long-time almost-weekly regular at the Art Bar open stage, long before publishing her verse collection The Cartographer’s Skin and featuring at events such as Luminato and the Words Aloud Festival as well as our humble series. She has also represented Toronto across the border as part of the city’s slam team, winning victories with the power of her words, not in-your-face pyrotechnics.

We were pleased to have Lara grace our mainstage to share poems full of keen observation and compassion.


David Day

Widely-published poet and non-fiction author David Day has many things to teach, such as how a poem is like a dead cat, why only mean people get to live in castles and what Ezra Pound has in common with loggers.


Tom Wayman

Tom Wayman comes from a tradition where poetry is a tool for social justice, which comes through in his work. Wayman is not strident, however, but sympathetic and paitent, like a teacher in love with teaching but not with giving out marks.


March 16: Is it really too late to be a jazz wife?

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

Rocco Di Giacomo

Host Rocco di Giacomo explains the consciousness-expanding properties of excellent poetry.

Matthew Dryden

Matthew Dryden doesn’t mind being known as a “sweet boy”. He likes romantic movies, even the ones called chick flicks, and isn’t afraid to say so. He is not even abashed to say he’s watched every episode of Gilmore Girls.

Discover more in the Art Bar’s exclusive tell-all interview.


Heather Cadsby

For countless years Heather Cadsby was a tireless and indispensable presence at the Art Bar until she left it to the rest of us to discover in her absence just how much work she did for the series as a long-standing and long-suffering board member.

We’re happy to receive her back as a poet, reading from her excellent and playfully sardonic book of poems, Could Be.

Come back any time, Heather.


Jill Battson

Jill Battson has been traveling around for awhile, but folks who’ve been on the scene for a while remember her as an important local presence in poetry. Along with organizing the popular Poets Refuge reading series she coordinated poetry readings on a bus, in a boxing ring and on MuchMusic for awhile through the Word Up! poetry videos series.

Her latest pass through Toronto is especially triumphant. She was commissioned to write the libretto for Dark Star Requiem, a dramatic oratorio which opens this year’s Luminato arts festival. The libretto’s text concerns the topic of AIDS, a cause close to her heart.


March 9: They’ve touched your perfect body

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

Poetry is lovely for how it approaches religion and politics: with a love for both detail and ambiguity that preachers and pamphleteers won’t come near.

Saviours are sensual, despotism is a dance and the personal is cosmic.

Which is why the clouds make faces when we’re not looking.

Luckily someone manages to write it down.

Stephen Humphrey

Brian Day

Contrary to the usual **ahem** technical perfection of Art Bar podcasts, there are the occasional glitches, such as the case in point, whereby gee-whiz gadgetry failed to commit Brian Day‘s reading to posterity.

Let me present my interview, however, with Mr. Day regarding his intriuging collection Conjuring Jesus.

It’s a daring and intellectually tricky thing to author an entire collection of poems about Jesus rife with homoerotic tension, nuanced morality and a sense of beauty.


Maureen Hynes

The poems presented by Maureen Hynes were like a diaphragm of personal and political, breathing in the implications of a torture and tyranny while exhaling flamenco.

For her intimacy can be both medical and tender.

Flowers bloom among asphalt both literally and figuratively in her writing.

In her own words, she says, “My poetry is always an attempt to go deeper, mostly into a lot of commonplace ¬†experiences, situations or vistas to find the still moment where a small connection or realization can be made, hopefully with poetic grace. Sort of like following a thread into the underworld, and not always possible until well after the experience.”



Yogi is sort of a wild card. He’s a slam poet who writes lyrical poems about marriage, family and clouds.

“And now for something completely different,” he kept saying.

His poems are about relationships: to his family, himself and wonders that lurk just out of sight.


March 2: The mythology of objects and the high school biology of love

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

It’s part of the poet’s job to see our own nature in other things – animals, carpentry tools, high school science experiments.

They might even see divine ointment in a tube of grease.

Just don’t ask what one of them would do with an octopus.

Stephen Humphrey

Host Valentino Assenza introduces opening feature A.F. Moritz.

A.F. Moritz

A. F. Moritz says he still feels so close to the poems he wrote at 25 that he’s young again when he reads them. But then, time can be a fluid thing for someone who forgets to look at his watch.

Reality also is fluid for Moritz, in a poetic way. He likes to think his personal vison hasn’t fallen into the crusty ‘realism’ of maturity, where the hard world trumps imagination.

“True reality,” he says, “is a beautiful and remarkable thing.”


Adrienne Gruber

Adrienne Gruber‘s recently moved from Saskatchewan to Toronto, but maybe she came from the sea.

She began with insightful poems about high school and family moments. And then suddenly jumped off the deep end, scuba mask and all into a world of starfish, octopi and assorted underwater life.

She went on to explain which sea creatures make better boyfriends.


Asa Boxer

Asa Boxer,  it seems can find divinity in a shed full of tools and divine the human condition from a lobster boiling in a pot.

And what does the lobster in a pot see?

It sees God, of course.