Monthly Archives: February 2009



“Poetry is not so much about what it means… but

about how it feels” Mary Oliver


My intent over the last few years has been to make poetry not just more accessible to the public, but to revive poetry as an entertaining and feeling event.

Consequently the focus of the evening is on creating a communion between the artists and their audience in a light and often humorous ambience.

I start the show by establishing the format for the evening.

IntroductionFirst Featured Poet (20 minute set)

(short break)

6 or 7 Open Microphone Poets (4 minutes each) (Sign-up by early recommended)

(Longer Break)

Second Featured Poet (20 minute set)

Poetry Themed Challenge


The featured poets (always a male and a female) are the key to the success of the show. These two artists provide the proven qualities of skill and delivery that inspire the listeners to open their hearts and minds. The open microphone set offers both new and experienced poets the opportunity to present other perspectives and nuances in shortened, but vital contributions.After each poet reads I invite the audience to join me in providing positive responses about a favourite poem, perhaps a line or metaphor that was particularly moving, or any other aspect of performance deserving celebration.

It is in the Poetry Themed Challenge, based on a topic that I describe during the introduction to the show, that the audience is invited to play an integral role in the success of the artistic event. Individual participation in this is completely optional. Anyone can join in, but everyone in the audience is encouraged to help decide the two winners during the final act of the show. Throughout the evening I elaborate on the theme to inspire people to explore the Themed Challenge.

I leave small 3” x 4”pieces of paper and pens on the tables for this purpose. Any poem entered in the Themed Challenge is limited to what can be written on ONE of the provided pieces of paper (ok, you can use both sides).

The show peaks at the end when participants are invited to come up and read what they’ve written. Once all contestants have performed their short pieces, the audience is asked to select their choice for FAVOURITE POEM and BEST PERFORMANCE. The winners receive a beverage of their choice as a prize and all entrants are encouraged to post their poems on my website until the next show’s winners are announced.


Each show averages about 2 1/2 hours in length, but the emphasis on camaraderie and communication make it fly by on an artistic high. There are 3 breaks because my overall intent is for people to celebrate the event together, so the more interaction the better. This also gives Themed Challenge writers some time to write their poems.

Admission is free, but audience members may contribute to a glass jar provided for this purpose. Any money raised is split between the featured poets.

Please come and help us celebrate the Art of Words together,

James Dewar



Valentine Recovery Show

FEATURING Catherine Graham and Valentino Assenza



Catherine Graham is the author of three critically acclaimed poetry collections: The Watch, Pupa, and The Red Element. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto, the Haliburton School of the Arts and Life Writing through the City of Burlington. Her writing has been anthologized internationally and her work as poetry coach is highlighted in Poet’s Market 2007. She is Vice President of Project Bookmark Canada and Marketing Coordinator for the Rowers Pub Reading Series.


Valentino Assenza has been a published poet and known spoken word artist for the last decade. He has performed at many of the popular reading series in Toronto, and at select events across Canada. He has three books of poetry Wandering Absence, Il Ritorno (Labour Of Love Press), and Quiet Confessions Of A Loudmouth (Lyricalmyrical Press). He will be releasing his fourth book of poetry with Lyricalmyrical press called Make Our Peace With Rattlesnakes in Spring 2009. He is on a committee of nine that helps to run the Art Bar Poetry Series, belongs to a spoken word group called The Last Call Poets, and runs his own poetry series Cryptic Chatter the first Friday of the month at the Renaissance Café in Toronto.