The Art Bar poetry series takes place weekly at the Free Times Café. It is the longest running Canadian poetry series and features more than a hundred poets a year. It provides a platform for new poets to express themselves and present their work. The Art Bar attracts a large audience each week, and concludes each series with an open mic. Typically, each session has three poets who recite their poetry for approximately twenty minutes each. Last week’s lineup featured Spencer Gordon, Anne Campbell, and Benjamin Hertwig.
The first poet to perform was Gordon, the author of the short story collection Cosmo. His work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, National Post, and THIS magazine.
The second poet to present was Campbell—he began by welcoming the attendees. Campbell, who writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, was one of the first writers to receive the City of Regina Writing Award. She read several poems from her new book, The Fabric of the Day and brought the audience’s attention to the book’s cover which depicted the landscape of Saskatchewan. She then stated that after reading the collection of poems in the book, the reader will have an idea as to why such a particular book cover was chosen.
Campbell’s poetry focuses on themes of time and nature. One of her poems that stuck out to me was about grass and how this seemingly mundane concept is connected to the love of nature. Campbell mentioned how some poems were more painful to read, but she believed that those poems somehow provided a break from suffering. One of these was “Bacon Lover,” which talked about the absence of a lover that was more apparent while eating reheated bacon.
Hertwig’s performance followed suit. Herwig presented his newly published book Slow War. The book reveals his experience in the Canadian Armed Forces and how it changed his perspective on many things. “
“This book Slow War was a difficult book for me to write. Particularly because of the way it marks a departure from my family traditions and history,” he said.
He stated that many members of his family have been involved in the military and they also carry conservative views. Hertwig’s first poem “Genesis” discussed the themes of violence and war.
Hertwig then discussed how a number of people that he knew in the military had committed suicide and his poem “For the Soldier Who Slept Across the Hall,” was written for Sean Collins, a fellow soldier who committed suicide a few years ago.
“My politics have changed a lot, I no longer support the mission in Afghanistan,” he said, “I think most people can agree that the people who are sent to war should be taken care of when they return.”
The Art Bar poetry series takes place every week Wednesday at the Free Times Cafe and features interesting and lively performers.