Next Week in Toronto: PoeTrain, Open Mic, and So Much More

 “curled beneath a sports bench/coiled, thick wad, stale/like his gum – stuck/with no place to go.” -Debbie Okun Hill from her poem “Train Station”

Each week an e-mail from Norman Cristofoli arrives in my inbox. Not only does it list literary events (readings, launches, open mics, etc.) scheduled for the next seven days in Toronto but it reminds me of the dedicated individuals and organizations who continue to promote the literary arts in that particular Canadian city.

Today’s notice listed 14 events. Oh, those Toronto and area residents are fortunate to tap into such creative talent on a daily basis. When you live (like I do) in a rural area removed from large cities and public transportation, winter travel to literary events can be difficult. Sometimes I do feel like the teen character in my poem “Train Station” – “like gum – stuck with no place to go.” However, when the snow blankets the earth, this solitude provides a quiet comfort to squirrel away and hibernate with the muse, make plans for future trips and work on new material or revise old manuscripts. If my schedule allows and the weather cooperates I’m on my way. I have learned so much from my travels, even if it’s only a short trip down a country road.

Working behind the scenes: the PoeTrain team: Kent Bowman, Marsha Barber, David Brydges, Pat Connors, and Kate Marshall Flaherty. Photo Courtesy: PoeTrain Files

Working behind the scenes: the PoeTrain team: Kent Bowman, Marsha Barber, David Brydges, Patrick Connors, and Kate Marshall Flaherty.

Two Toronto events (which I’m particularly familiar with) are: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Fundraiser and The Ontario Poetry Society’s For the Love of Poetry Festival. See additional information below. I highly recommend both readings and hope that some time down this literary road additional events, not only in Toronto but in other Canadian centers, will also be featured. Thanks for your patience.


Clickety-clack!  “The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour is going to become a historic reality soon,” stated David Brydges, artistic director for the tour in a recent e-mail. “The official program for train activities is coming out by the end of the month.”

So far approximately 22 poets and train lovers have signed up for this National Poetry Month cross county adventure which will start in Ottawa in mid-April with stops in Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

In the interim, work continues with a special fundraising event planned for Thursday, February 12.

Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Fundraiser this February 12, 2015 in Toronto.

Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Fundraiser this February 12, 2015 in Toronto.

Meet several PoeTrainers for supper (6 to 8 p.m.) and stay for the entertainment at 8 p.m. featuring Max Layton, Robert Priest, and Cathy Petch. Here’s a link to the Facebook event page for additional information.

Bravo to David Brydges and his committee members Kent Bowman, Patrick Connors, Marsha Barber and Kate Marshall Flaherty for organizing this event. See an earlier posting about the tour here. Follow this blog for additional updates as well as highlights of the PoeTrain journey in April.


The Ontario Poetry Society

The Ontario Poetry Society

If you have never read your poetry in front of an audience or if you would like additional practice reading, this a great place to start. Every year, The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS) travels across the province to various cities to offer its members as well as non-members a safe and friendly place to share work. Everyone who wants to read can read during this open mic event and if you’re a member with a new book, you may also have a spotlight feature. Sign-up for readers is at the door. Both experienced and non-experienced poets are welcome.  More info can be found here. Additional information about last year’s Toronto’s event is linked here. Similar events have also taken place in Cobourg, Cobalt, Stratford, Ottawa and Oakville. Members’ readings and open mics for 2015 will be posted on the TOPS website.


Below is next week’s list of Toronto events as supplied by Norman Cristofoli! Before heading out, please double check with the venue or the organizers to ensure the event hasn’t been cancelled or rescheduled.

If you wish to have your name added to Norman’s weekly mailing list or if you wish to promote your Greater Toronto area event, please contact Norman: norman.cristofoli (at) . All submissions should include pertinent information about the event and be e-mailed before the Friday of the previous week. Norman distributes his event listing on the Friday or Saturday for the following week.  

Birds of a Feather Storytelling Series
Monday, February 9,
6:30 pm
at Windup Bird Café
382 College Street


Toronto Poetry Slam
Monday, February 9
at 8:00 pm
sign-up at 7:30 pm
at the Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street West (east of Dufferin)

Featuring: Sabrina has found herself on many stages, including the Canadian Indies Finals, The Victoria Festival of Spoken Word and most recently, was part of the 2014 Toronto Poetry Slam team which was crowned national champions this past October. Sabrina’s poems float along the spectrum of love, pain, identity and Beyoncé. Hosted by: Valentino Assenza


Art Bar
Tuesday, February 10
at 8:00 pm at the Black Swan
154 Danforth Avenue (just west of Broadview)

Featuring: Clara Blackwood, Dave Silverberg, Nicole Brewer, Rahul Gupta

More info at


Tightrope Books Launch Emily Pohl-Weary’s – Ghost Sick
Tuesday, February 10 at 7:00 pm
at The Tenant of Parkdale
1267 Queen St. West

Readings by: Emily Pohl-Weary, Lillian Allen, Irfan Ali, Chris Chambers, Dante King, Carolyn Smart & dianah smith.

Emerging Writers Reading Series
Tuesday, February 10 at 8:00 pm
at Duffy’s Tavern
1238 Bloor Street West,

Featuring: Faith Arkorful, Michelle Brown , F. A. Meier (Rick Meier), Noor Naga


Tuesdays @ 10
Spoken word and music Radio Show
Tuesday, February 10 at 10:00 pm
at CIUT 89.5 FM and on the Internet at, Rogers Cable channel 946 and Star satellite channel 826
Hosted by Valentino Assenza

Guests: James Dewar, Sue Reynolds, Arlene Paculan, Lizzie Violet.


Pivot Reading Series
Wednesday, February 11 at 8:00 pm
at the Press Club
850 Dundas Street West

Featuring: Ken Babstock, David Goldstein, Sheniz Jahmohamed
Hosted by Jacob McArthur Mooney


BAM! The Youth Slam
Wednesday, February 11 at 6:00 pm
at The Central
603 Markham Street (just west of Bathurst & Bloor)
Hosted by Patrick de Belen

Featuring: Sean Warren
*** IMPORTANT: This is the Finals Night! There will be an open mic, but only qualified slammers will be able to compete!
Rules of a BAM! Poetry Slam are quite simple. There we will have 12 slots open for youth poets ages 12-19 – 2 rounds, 3 minutes with a 10 second grace period for every poet to drop their fire, with a 0.5 penalty for every 10 seconds afterwards. There is an OPEN MIC available for all ages for anyone that wants to share his or her works on stage!


Love is Stronger than – – – – – – –
Wednesday, February 11 at 6:30 pm
at Windup Bird Cafe
382 College Street

Featuring Poets: Valentino Assenza, Jennifer Hosein, Alexandra Innes
Featuring Musicians: Suitcase Sam, Brian Blain, Michael Marian, Armando Espana
Hosted by Alexandra Innes


Fundraiser for PoeTrain
Thursday, February 12 at 8:00 pm
at Hot House Restaurant
35 Church Street
Featuring: Robert Priest, Cathy Petch, Max Layton


Best Canadian Poetry Valentine’s Day Reading
Saturday, February 14 at 2:00 pm
at Ben McNally Books 366 Bay Street (at Temperance)

Featuring: Michael Fraser, Laura Lush, Jim Johnstone, Ruth Roach Pierson, Maureen Hynes, Aaron Kreuter, Kateri Lanthier, & Moez Surani


Sunday Poetry @ Ellington’s
Poetry Reading Series and Open Stage
Sunday, February 15 at 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Ellington’s Music & Cafe
805 St Clair Ave West


Plasticine Poetry Series
Spoken Word and Open Stage
Sunday, February 15 at 6:00 pm
at Pauper’s Pub
539 Bloor Street West

Featuring: Rudy Fearon, Olive Senior, Cathy Petch, and Marcia Johnson
Hosted by Rod Weatherbie


Roots Lounge Poetry Slam and Open Mic
Sunday, February 15 at 8:00 pm
at the Harlem Restaurant
67 Richmond Street East

Featuring: Dwayne Morgan, Paulina O’Kieffe, Hoodo Mohamed, Bambu, Gavin Russell, Scribe, Bassam, Patrick de Belen, Spin, Dionne Bird of Paradise, Chris Tse


New works from every branch of literature on “The Loop” in this month’s Radio Wildfire Live! @

Radio Wildfire is an independent online radio station which blends spoken word, poetry, performance literature, comedy, storytelling, short stories and more with a novel selection of word/music fusion and an eclectic mix of musical styles.

Radio Wildfire is looking for spoken word audio tracks.  Check out their site and then send them your stuff.  Lots of European exposure.




1 thought on “Next Week in Toronto: PoeTrain, Open Mic, and So Much More

  1. Pingback: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour 2015 – A Retrospective by David Brydges | Kites Without Strings

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