Moving words from Kingston’s creatives

Poetry open-mic night occurs on the first Tuesday of every month at The Artel

The Artel, pictured above, is a quaint artist hub at the corner of Queen and Sydenham Streets.
The Artel, pictured above, is a quaint artist hub at the corner of Queen and Sydenham Streets.
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Poetry is a great way to provide social commentary and express creativity, and it often acts as a therapeutic outlet.

The best thing about poetry is that it doesn’t discriminate. That was clear at The Artel on Tuesday as writers of all ages, genders and identities stood up at the podium to share their touching work.

The Artel, a small artist’s hub on the corner of Queen and Sydenham Streets, has been home to the open poetry reading on the first Tuesday of every month since 2009. The event was organized by active literary community member Bruce Kauffman.

“We get a very eclectic age range, from 17 to 80 years old,” Kauffman said. “It’s important because we get a lot of really talented writers and poets looking for a place to share their work, and this is a great place to have it.” The event is also important because it creates inspiration for other writers, Kauffman added.

By the time it started there were hardly any seats left. It was a full house.

After an introduction by Kauffman, Ron Chase was the first poet to take the stand.

“A lot of my stuff is a little darker and more twisted,” Chase said. “And then, of course, I write about the classics like love and death. I have a handful of [them], I write short poetry mostly. Right now I have a collection of 10 or 15 short poems.”

Chase took the podium with confidence, jumping immediately into reciting his original work without missing a beat. The dramatic pauses and intonations in his voice brought life to the words.

Another poet, George Biro, took to reciting the work of other poets that he felt were “exceptional”. “I’ll be sharing ‘Wash’ by Bryan Russell and ‘Canadae’ by Jeramy Dodds tonight,” Biro said. “Sometimes I read my own poems, of which there are few, but other times I try to find recently written poems that are important to our time and that I consider exceptional.” As the fifth poet to take the podium, Biro stood up and recited his two chosen poems with both ease and style.

He recited lines such as: “Canada, you must sew shut the gaff-pole holes in the seal pups’ heads before the rich can be clothed” and “Scientists have cloned Robert Pickton to man our missing persons’ helplines, or Bernardo and Homolka have Tupperwared the all-you-can-eat buffet.” This poem included both cutting humour and social commentary, keeping audience members engaged and on their toes. It was — as Biro suggested — exceptional.

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