Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Interview with the Black Coffee Poet

I was interviewed a little while back by Jorge Villejos, the Black Coffee Poet. He works inside the U of T and is a powerful human rights advocate. He also wrote an article about my chapbook A State, A Statue, A Statute.

My interview can be found here:

His article about me and my work :

His website :

Thanks to Jorge for the support, it means a lot to me.

A guide to poetry readings in Toronto

All these series have an open mic aside from the SH and EW (shoo, gnat) series, usually held at the end of the evening.  When I moved to Toronto I couldn't really find an up-to-date list of all the open mic poetry readings here, and I had to hunt.  These are most, if not all of them.
I should also mention that PWYC is strongly recommended for all these events. For more non-open mic events such as Pivot, Brockton, Draft et al., and other literary events, visit  Information for all the events below can be found by clicking on their above titles, which contain links to their websites.

The Emerging Writers (EW) Reading Series:

Created by the awesome Jess Taylor, this series is affiliated with Dragnet Magazine and has a strong mix of poetry and prose. I've featured there in the winter and I'm doing it again in January. Information can also be found in NOW magazine.

The Art Bar Poetry Series:

The longest-running poetry series in Toronto, held Tuesdays at 8PM inside the second floor of Pauper's Pub. I was a featured poet at Art Bar back in March.  The two other featured readers didn't show up, so it was just me.  But to compensate there were a lot of people on the open mic.

The Underdog Poets Academy:
A great series run by the talented Sarah Beaudin, this series encourages those who haven't read much or at all to get out and perform. It also features accomplished poets on a regular basis as well.  It's a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere all the time, and is always receptive of every poet. I've featured there twice as well and it was quite fun, once doing my satirical character Jezebel Beelzebub Bells...which is another post in itself.

Plasticine Poetry Series:

Now moved to Pauper's Pub, the same as Art Bar. The first series I did an open mic at here in Toronto, and the first series I featured at.  Run by the great Cathy Petch and Michael Fraser, who are tolerant if you go over the time limit for reading on the open mic, but not to the extent that the whole series is compromised.

Hot-Sauced Words:

Every third Thursday of every month at 8, inside the second floor of the Black Swan Tavern.  Hosted by my friend James Dewar.

Rochdale Rhymes and Readings:

No posters of the RRR exist, so here's one of Mark Gonzales shot by Ari Marcopoulos instead.  This series is usually held in the back studio of the Regal Beagle Pub at 335 Bloor St. W, during the fall, winter, and spring at 8 PM. Hosted by Mike Lipsius.  I heard one poet read a bizarre and hilarious poem about Jesus here once, that made it worthwhile.

Impossible Words:

Impossible Words is the newest reading series here in Toronto. No photos of it exist yet, so here's one of Chris Pastras and Jason Lee shot by Tobin Yelland. It happens every two weeks on Saturdays from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Academy of the Impossible.

The Beautiful and the Damned:
Now held at the Glad Day Bookshop, this series is LGBT-oriented but still welcomes readers of any kind, so long as their work isn't hateful. Everyone's friendly, you just have to get there before it starts to sign up for the open mic.

Secret Handshake Art Gallery Reading Series:

Run by my friend David Bateman with assistance by bill bissett, the SH gallery hosts a poetry reading every month.  I was fortunate to feature here in January, and I gave a copy of my chapbook A State, A Statue, A Statute to bill.  He was supportive, it was great.

Slam Poetry at the Drake Hotel:

There's usually a $5 entrance fee for slam poetry events at the Drake Hotel. A lot of people show up.  I read my work on the open mic here.  A girl was into it, a guy stared at me.  I didn't read slam poetry, I read a prose poem.  If you're into slam poetry, this is the event to attend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The rudeness of talking in a foreign language

You're really not that important. Never mind that Sopranos scene where they travel to Italy.

 But take this following scenario, which happened to me: You introduce yourself to someone who speaks with an accent. You show them something of yours. As they're looking at it, their partner comes up beside them and starts speaking in their native language, and they start giggling as they look at your item. What did I do in response? I said "Hm", loud enough for them to hear me. They didn't continue talking after that.

 What else could I do? And what am I supposed to think? That they could be giggling about anything, least likely of which being your item? Or is it natural, healthy even, to preserve some discomfort over the fact that they're enjoying talking badly about you?

 The truth is that, in personal situations like these, suddenly talking in a foreign language is rude, and is not the mark of civilized and respectable people. I've dealt with much more than my share of rude behaviour. I shouldn't have to take it any longer.

 And for those of you who read this, you don't have to either. It's socially awkward to walk among people talking in a different language and think they're talking about you, absolutely. But it's not when you're in a situation such as the one I've described.