Back upstairs at Zelda’s (aka “the trailer in the sky”) for another edition of The Beautiful and the Damned last night – with my pal, the lovely and talented Lizzie Violet – this time, for a special (and early treat) Pride edition, sponsored by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA). Dead celeb of the month: Jean Genet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Genet
Host DM Moore had a full roster of features and open mic readers/performers, and as I’ve done previously, I’d like to go for a word association riff here. If I’ve misspelled or misnamed anyone, please let me know in Comments and I’ll correct the error asap. One thing all these artists had in common was passion in their words, whether by poetry, spoken word or song.
Features: Ghadeer Malek – poetry of the pain and resilience of the Palestinian people, resolving to not just survive but thrive; marginalization of queers and Palestinians, and the local struggles of Toronto Pride, QAIA participation and the threat of losing city funding. Words that resonated with me: “I write because I want to set my stories free” and “There must be hope.”
Hamid Parnian – sweet, soft-spoken young man from Iran, alternating between Farsi and English in a beautiful, good-humoured piece of yearning, memory and love.
Mraya (three-woman group: Maryem Toller, Jayne Brown and Sophia Grigoriadis) – traditional songs from Palestine, Egypt and Greece, accompanying themselves with drum, tambourine and tabor (?); strong, beautiful female voices blending in harmony.
Open mic folks: Katherine (Katrina?) Hernandez – she had me at “CWL” with her funny, insightful piece on family and being different; love the use of “twitterpated,” which came before Twitter even existed.
Vanessa McGowan – a piece to those who aren’t safe; timely and passionate, “Everyone has to be heard.” See her at an upcoming slam on June 20 at Waterfalls in Kensington Market (303 Augusta Ave., Toronto).
Brandon Pitts – performed his poem, which if memory serves, is called The Apocalypse of Weeks – “On the senate floor, I will crush them” political, sardonic and visceral. Pitts’ play One Night will be appearing at the George Ignatieff Theatre (GIT) during the Toronto Fringe.
Jeff Cottrill – hilarious Darwin Award-worthy piece: product welcome and instructions for the Darwina microwave oven, my fave instruction: “Do not place your Darwina microwave oven in a catapult.” Catch him at Kaplansky’s on June 17.
Philip Cairns – 21st century existential reflections in A Bombing for Peace: “I’m ashamed to be a citizen of this planet.” July 6, catch him doing The Judy Monologues at the Toronto Fringe.
John Nyman – irreverently funny and good-natured life observations. Catch him at The Central on Sunday, June 24.
Joe Dewar – first time up at Zelda’s, giving us a “damned contribution,” comic cranky old liberal guy poetry – fun!
Duncan Armstrong – reflections on queerphobia and violence in our times.
Troy Jackson – soulful blues gospel songs (sung a cappella), shout out to his black/gay/Muslim/Turtle Island native identity, beautiful bracelet and striking bow tie, the man is stylin’.
Susan Munroe – the lady in the rat pack hat, reading a spiritual, existential and lyrical piece from her recently published book Coil.
Sue Goldstein – activist and poet, “Not Sleeping but Remembering” exploring cleaning house, clearing life, struggles with life’s clutter both domestic and in the larger sense of memory, identity.
Cathy Petch – up wearing a newsboy hat, serving up an erotic zit fetish ballad. Catch her at The Truth or Dare Slam on June 19 at Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave., Toronto).
And that was one great, full evening of passionate words. Confession: in my haste to get ready and out the door this morning, I stupidly forgot my camera cable – so I’ll have to insert photos later this weekend.
p.s. – done. Here are some more.