May 11: Hey Shakespeare, is that a banana in your pants or are you just happy to kick it at Art Bardy Har-Har Night?

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by theartbar

Can poets be funny?

Does comedy have a place in poetry?

Why are haikus so especially funny?

Did the photographer have two many beers?

Valentino Assenza

Valentino Assenza, host of the annual Art-Bardy-Har-Har night full of good humour and ready to experience life without Tylenol. One day at a time, dude. Always inclined to public service, Valentino took time to caution about the dangers of Rock Band (TM).


Cathy Petch

Cathy Petch was F*****n’ Freestyling or she was milking old material, depending on how well you know her stuff. Apparently her kitchen is her bathroom, her cat is a racist and your baby is ugly.


Mike Bryant

Mike Bryant is a nerd. He said it in front of everybody, even his wife. He can talk about Star Wars for hours. He can quote “Howl” and Neuromancer in the same breath. He can speak wookie with a slight accent and he wants to sell you razors.


Dave Silverberg

Dave Silverberg lives alone and writes haikus about fooling the pizza guy. He sees Mike Bryant’s Star Wars nerd and raises him one sports nerd. He writes stalker-like letters to Sealtest. And eggnog.


Why so serious?

Valentino Assenza is in his usual good humour and sure of his hockey loyalties, but has an ominous curiosity about Lady Gaga. By the way, “Art Bardy Har-Har” was his idea, but he’s too modest to brag.


Sandra Kasturi

Like many individuals, Sandra Kasturi wants to know the whereabouts of William Shatner’s genitals. She does a mean Jack Nicholson, and you don’t want to see her attic. She does not love the pig light.


Yehuda Fisher

Yehuda Fisher has cool hair and his own personal stash of lightsabers. He has the bat signal on his wallpaper. Geeks in the house. What part of drunk at 3 am didn’t you get? And she liked it.


Jeff Cottrill

Jeff Cottrill has a show about a grouch who lives in a trashcan. No, not that one. His open piece clearly demonstrates that Cottrill is literally his own worst critic – as in reviewer, but that doesn’t mean he’s above using a faux southern accent.



May 4: How long has the wind always been your friend?

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , on May 4, 2010 by theartbar

Margaret Christakos

(Photos by Stephen Humphrey)

Sudbury to Margaret Christakos is a place of hills – or maybe the one hill in particular, a lake, the wind and generational pessimism. It’s a place to escape from and to return to, again and again, by Greyhound bus and by poetry. Her hometown is the subject of much poetic confession, although Margaret doesn’t sound all that guilty.


Mick Burrs

Like Margaret Christakos, along with most people it turns out, Mick Burrs, also known as Steven Michael Berzensky, comes from somewhere. He comes from the prairie province Saskatchewan, and before that the United States. Recently he thought it important to note the contribution of Americans who came to Canada to avoid participating in the Vietnam war, when he co-edited the anthology Crossing Lines with Allan Briesmaster. Like most poets, he sometimes finds himself on Greyhound buses. While Margaret Christakos remembers the sandwich lady, he remembers when passengers could smoke.


Roger Greenwald

Roger Greenwald often returns to Norway, which he didn’t come from. He poses questions to his father, who is long since deceased. He remembers Clinton Street from years ago when many Chilean refugees arrived, fleeing their country’s troubles and smiling on warm days. He champions Charles Douglas, a poet who keeps his day job and publishes sporadically. And he’s written an entire poem in quotation marks. As writers will tell you, punctuation matters.


(Recordings and interviews by Stephen Humphrey)

April 27: You’ll never get to see the poetry love gun

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on April 27, 2010 by theartbar

Ian Burgham

(Photo by Mindi Saint)

Ian Burgham said he was making a point to pause after his epigraphs so his poems wouldn’t be confused with the work of Petrarch, W.H. Auden and Rilke, adding it wouldn’t be that bad if he was. Many of his poems did carry the unmistakable flavour of Scotland, where he lived for a number of years. Scotland was often the subject of his pieces, along with sibling confessions, ancestral tragedies, would-be lost loves, the “deep weight of the present” and other heavy loads carried by and between people.


James Dewar

(Photo by Greg Tjepkima)

James Dewar, frequently seen hosting Hot-Sauced Words, observes that men are portrayed as “losers and assholes” in a lot of popular culture. His own investigation revealed that “men drink more than they piss out” and you can’t always trust your fishing buddies.

“Tonight I’m going to kick you in the nuts a couple of times with a couple of the poems when I talk about things that are really hard to talk about,” he said. “And hopefully I’ll alleviate the swelling with some nicer ones.”

Hear more about the best and worst of us guys.


Sharon Harris

(Photo by Mindi Saint)

Sharon Harris says she’s called an experimental poet.

“So we’re going to experiment,” she adds, before donning a lab coat and summoning two assistants to demonstrate the poetry love gun.

This demonstration were not documented visually, so you’ll have to imagine what the audience found so interesting.

Luckily Harris practices pataphysics, “the science of imaginary solutions“.

She provides answers to many questions such as how much pressure to apply to poetry, whether or not it’s correct to freeze a poem and why it’s better not to date  poets.

Later she dresses like rainbow and wonders, “Why do I write in shadows?”


(Readings recorded by Mindi Saint)

April 20: What rhymes with Discovery Night winner?

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , , on April 20, 2010 by theartbar

For years the Art Bar series has awarded a feature to the winner of the Discovery Night competition each January.

The last time around we awarded two features to Jennifer Marston and Eytan Millstone, who tied for first place. Which was interesting, because two poets couldn’t be more different.

Spoken-word artist Relevant fit the evening’s spirit very nicely. His opening set doubled as a vocal warm-up for the audience.

A note to would-be features. The next Discovery Night will be coming up soon, on January 11, 2011.


(Photo by Cynthia Gould)

Relevant says his main mission is to get you to think… Then MELT YOUR BRAIN with sheer awesomeness!!! He is probably the best human beatbox to hit the Art Bar stage (yes there have been others).He’s a bit a poetry remix artist, who sampled 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 social commentary about war, suicide and D’jibouti his African birthplace.


Jennifer Marston

(Photo by Cynthia Gould)

Jennifer Marston tells everyone, “Tonight I’m going to read all my poems.”

While she is an active freelance writer and blogger, Jennifer confesses she doesn’t write many poems. Nonetheless, specimens of her humble output were enough to impress Discovery night judges.

After Relevant’s poems about big issues, Marston offered smaller narratives, to quote her poet friend Nathaniel G. Moore.

Her poems talk about the small details of a friendship, a house, a romance.

“Small and soft things can cause great damage,” she observes in a soft voice that is sometimes lost in the room’s echoes in this recording.


Eytan Millstone

(Photo by Cynthia Gould)

Before his Discovery night victory Eytan Millstone (aka Eytan Crouton 1st Disciple) was, and still remains, a regular at the Art Bar open stage.

Eytan not your usual rapper. He rhymes about how he loves his parents, doesn’t fight, hates nightclubs and isn’t gangster.

Eytan’s own take on keepin’ it real has won more than the Discovery Night. He’s also fared well at a number of local slams.


(Readings recorded by Mindi Saint)

April 13: Will there be photocopiers in the future?

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on April 13, 2010 by theartbar

Jacquie Buncel

(Photos and treatments by Stephen Humphrey)

Jacquie Buncel knows the horrors of the past and the joys of the present. Her book Turning the Corner at Dusk relates a life shaped by the legacy of parents who survived the holocaust and enriched by motherhood. Its title poem calls for universal justice.


Alexandra Oliver

Alexandra Oliver, did read aloud, upon one April night
Her pithy odes and Gothic rhymes culled from her mundane life;
Of boyfriends past and schoolgirl clothes of fragile polyester.
We reveled in each comic line ’bout things that did depress her.

Alexandra says:

I love writing in form, because what informs my work is the struggle between the impulsive and the rational, between anarchy and propriety.

Writing in form is a great way of expressing tension, often unbearable, fateful tension. I’m not a political poet or a poet with a fixed spiritual or ideological agenda. I’m just a very mannered person who uses a mannered technique to observe ordinary people and tell stories, sometimes extraordinary stories, about whatever those people are fighting to repress or eliminate.


John Barlow

John Barlow describes the experience of “full-time consciousness”, which is somewhere between getting devoured by a newspaper on the subway while getting absorbed by everything else. His poems, photocopy zines and prodigious emails encompass a living universe of friends and distractions, just as his readings are peppered with call-outs to audience members and stray observations – like how concrete poems are impossible to recite.


(Recordings and interviews by Stephen Humphrey)

April 6: Once Upon A Rainy Tuesday Night

Posted in Art Bar Poetry with tags , , on April 6, 2010 by theartbar

Cynthia Gould

Cynthia Gould thanks Art Bar regulars for coming out in the cold early spring rain.


Sue Chenette

Sue Chenette is a poet and classical pianist who grew up in northern Wisconsin and has made her home in Toronto since 1972.  Her poems present a kind of counterpoint between then personal, pastoral and found things – found, new and borrowed for writerly purposes.


Patricia Young

Patricia Young knows about young love, from high school dating to getting married while in college. Her writing explains how you’re only as old as the boyfriend you remember and how old poetic forms can be a lens to the future.


Priscila Uppal

Priscila Uppal isn’t afraid of medical jargon, though she apparently is scared of cancer, insanity, using the  Internet and not having enough sex. Her book Traumatology explores heritability as dementia, disease as euphemism and spirit as syndrome.


Where did the audio go?

Posted in Community with tags , on April 1, 2010 by theartbar

People used to visiting this blog may notice that our podcasts are in a different format than previous ones.

The blog has started using Podomatic, a free podcasting server that’s better in a number of ways than MyPodcast, the server we previously used.

For one thing there are more sharing options for Facebook and stuff like that. You can also download the reading through iTunes (for free, of course).

The plan is to relocate all our previous podcasts to Podomatic. In the meantime, a year or so’s worth of audio is kind of in limbo, which you will have noticed if you tried clicking on Listen for podcasts dated prior to March 23.

The squeaky wheel will, in fact, get the grease, in this case.

If you want to hear the audio from a certain poet’s reading RIGHT NOW, and don’t want to wait until I get to re-posting it, please let me know by sending an email to I’ll throw that one up right away.

– Stephen Humphrey