I am a painter, I appreciate all colors and the way they change when mixed. A friend of mine introduced me to Vancouver artist Annette Labedzki and everything changed.

Her videos are simple, like Bob Ross but more sensual, a complex psychedelic kaleidoscope of bliss, just a woman’s hand pushing paint. The sounds and scrapes are sexy. The blobs are soothing, mystifying. Watch and you will see! She inspired me to get high and write poetry. Lose yourself in the simplicity of mixing colors.


Sensual Strokes
Splatter and push
Mush, muddle, spread
Spread it!
Make 2 become 1
Three in harmony
Bleeding (between my legs)
Leaving traces
All the colors
Set off
Explosions for the eyes
Titilate the senses
Its only just paint
I faint
Rub it over my hills
The landscape of a human
Formed with muted browns
Always pink
Think about the colors
And why there was always only 1 flesh tone in the crayon box
Rainbow is my favorite color
Followed closely by glitter
Glitter gets the most hits
Glitter on my tits
It sits between the cells of imperfection
Covering up nothing
Just illuminating the possibilities
Glitter is confidence
In the prime of all good times
I sit and wonder
What is it like to watch paint dry?
I like it better when its wet
On my fingertips
Like a dream of her hips
Thighs and lies
Its my name that she calls
Merge beneath the pale sheets
Fail to wake up in time for the early bird breakfast
Guess I am not getting the worm
Worms, resilient with their endless supply of hearts
I feel that way sometimes
Like I have 6 hearts
You can tear me apart and I still go on beating
More of me
Life not death
No longer using the worm for bait
But saving it from the sidewalk
Beating down on all its tender hearts
A worm’s life matters as much as your own
Every piece connected
In the dirt
The hook in my mouth hurts like my Monroe
Like watching a tongue piercing with over 1million views
Gummy gliding through your mouth
I miss the squish of gummy worms in my teeth
How can something so innocent be drenched in blood?
Fucking gelatin
We are all compost
Planting pots with muddy fingers
Swipes and swoops
Cut the cord
Scribbles can change the world
Orgasmic paint pushers
Glide effortlessly on baited breath
I see the future in revolutions
Swipes and swatches
Creation of the new
I have been on my game.
I got a nude pic from a never nude.
Rather be jaded than faded
Free in technicolor for all to see


Read more on this amazing artist!

When people call me Marilyn Monroe I know that is a compliment
I respond by farting or hiding behind a mustache
I see my skin
Over fat
Straw hair
Scared Cat

I was drunk and fucked up in a hotel once.
I looked in the mirror
And knew it was true blonde martyr moment

I smile big regardless
It has made me good at customer service
I assure you its genuine
Like the bleach in my chalice
This one is for you!
Ever sip closer to perfection

Would the comparison even be made if I were brunette?
Norma Gene was a brunette
My roots are the dirtiest shade of dark blonde

But does that mean I’m going to die naked drugged out at the hands of a corrupt president on the path of his own final destination?
Sounds pretty accurate actually
I relate more to chubby sweatpants Anna Nicole Smith
Besides the elderly husband and obsession with money thing
I need no ring

I hate the whole dumb blonde thing
I actuality did really well in school

Now I am the degenerate scum

Smoking blunts on a trampoline
Riding bikes with teenagers on acid
Standing a top Niagara Falls
Water that would rip my skin off
My body would grow flaccid
Under the waves

On the rocks
I keep falling for cocks
That are obsessed with skinny brunettes
Not buxom blondes
They tell me about it like I can help them get into her panties
Get off my lawn bro
Just go!

I keep falling for rockstars
That are scared of my shine
I am fine
My heart is all mine


I will never lose my name
She was married 3 times
But the only one that got her to change her name was the mistress of fame
She won at that

Everyone knows who she is
I have shirts and leggings with her face on them
She has more drag queens paying homage per capita than any other celebritant

At what cost?
She did not get the chance to grow old
Intrepid dust
I feel its lust

I don’t want to grow old but its creeping in like a storm
That has been on the radar since the day I was born
It is inevitable that I will be carried away in the cyclone
The cycle of humanity

Free pass for the prettiest ones
Golden child
Free of earthly holds
Loss, love, and lack of communication
Body folds

The photo taken of just her ass

While singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President”



I hear a beautiful song or poem or painting or glance

It touches my heart
Then I want the artist to touch my body

Spend time on me like a painting
Write our present moment like a song
Give my kisses the passion of a poem

I just want to know him
She is too beautiful to tell
I see the girls that strike their fancy
They look nothing like me

But I know that art is meant to make that feeling feel real
And I am not special
I am seduced like the others

You are the electric tangerine stripe in a cobalt sky just after sunset
You are the poppyseeds in my teeth
The barbeque sauce on my fingers
Delicately licked

They will tear you apart
Until there is nothing left but your art
Open wide with a price tag
Vivisection connection
There on display for mass consumption

I see
Obsession in the third degree
I have a problem where I think the world revolves around me

But the art you made was for a girl you knew growing up
The song was about a stranger on the subway
Something you heard in a dream
Perhaps an ex or a fantasy

Not me
It was never about me.

As an artist myself, I am often surprised at how I fall in love with the sparkles of hope in someone’s soul bearing words or visuals. Every time I feel duped by shiny pretty lights. Smoke and mirrors.

I often wonder if someone has ever felt that connection to me? Has someone thought I was out of their league? Saw my art and fell in instant love, lust, glee, watched my ass jiggle on stage, or heard me read a poem for the first time, perhaps even reading this blog.

I hope to connect with the broken hearted but not to break more hearts. I sit here alone at every art opening and poetry reading, every concert and play, just hoping that this one time it IS about me, and I will live happily ever after with the artist of my dreams.

Every person I have loved is an art maker, a shaker, an artful faker, and a heart breaker. I need to be with an artist because I know they are capable of passion. Life must be lived with absolute passion, careful thought and careless blocks of paint and color, words that stop wars.

Musicians are the worst. I fall for them so easily, so hard. It’s like their words and sounds touch places inside me that cannot be touched by mere mortals.

Drummers hold a beat in the bedroom, guitarists and piano players are good with their fingers, songwriters and poets write lyrics better than sex, they linger. The everlasting embrace of creativity that enraptures me, seduces me, envelopes me in thoughts that are dangerous to my mental health.

I have no stealth. I clumsily love those who are floating on their own clouds. They all have hot girlfriends now, but not when I started. I feel eternally broken-hearted. I love so hard it blinds me, then when I see it’s truly embarrassing.

I do get sad. It’s unavoidable. The pandora stations I listen to are based on all of my past relationships, people I have dated, girls I have had crushes on. It’s not like I want to go back to any of them, I know everything ends for a reason. But I think what if I ran into him at the Pink? What if I looked up and saw that familiar pout? Would I brush the hair from his forehead and kiss him like I did a thousand times before? Would it feel the same?

I took it for granted, didn’t know it was going to end, did’t really have any expectations, I never do. I never know who is going to make my chest tingle, these people are few and far between. I don’t just pounce, I long, I wonder, I let things pass me by. I never think I am anyone’s “type”, do people have types? I don’t! I walk through life haphazardly bumping into people until one of them makes me tingle, then I cling to them like static and never say a word until, of course, it’s too late.

What happens when your current crush likes all the bands that your ex liked? Then who will the songs remind you of? Both simultaneously methinks. The good times are killing us while the bad times consume our souls. It is unrelenting and never ending.

I elevate my crushes so it’s easier to feel that way about someone who is already on the stage. Looking down on me and my insecurity, they have no idea how much love is bursting from my seams. My skin is going to explode and a ball of light is going to shoot out of me.

I need to love others, share the light, stand up and fight, words like daggers can stagger through the night. Putting people on a pedestal is wrong, they are just human. If I never tell any of them how I feel, is the feeling real? Or is it just something that lives and dies inside of me, a waxing moment of passion, gone in a flash.

Even this pain will fade, the colors will blur with new love and possibility. It will turn grey and shrivel. Lather, rinse, repeat. I will never stop loving musicians, poets, painters, photographers, and creators. Even if it hurts, it’s worth it to feel that moment of special. They SEE you! To be loved by an artist you will forever be second to their art, because even love and sex don’t compare to expression!

Usually I am lost in my own art. I haven’t written about my heart lately because honestly I haven’t “felt” anything “real” in awhile. My heart has been too swollen with the reality that a young black man has been murdered by the police in my neighborhood. The president of my country is a cheeto demi-god complex fool who is making even more a mockery my country. 40% of the food is in dumpsters and children starve around the world and around the block from me. Transgender women are being targeted and murdered, they can’t even pee in peace. No Muslim or Jewish person is safe, neither is anyone of any distinguishing race. Animals are being tortured for consumption. Rape, slavery, bombs, wars, and lack of education are killing us and big corporate greed is demolishing our Earth at a rapid pace (not even the water is safe). I have no debt but still don’t know how I am going to continue to pay my bills. My grandpa has dementia, my best friend is racist, and my job is in jeopardy due to gentrification. How can I find time to be sad about my lack of a love life? There is no time to wallow, only to fight, and not forget to dream.

That’s why I fall in love with fellow artists, with those moments that make me forget about how hard things are. It is a selfish release. I want to live in their world, be part of that fanciful scene. I want to be the girl they knew in high school or the song they wrote in a dream. I want beauty, passion, and all that lies between. Bask in the spotlight together, the same kind of weird.

Pay attention to your heart, pay attention to art. Love uncontrollably, even if it hurts after, it was worth it. It will always be worth it.


A few years ago, it was late and the party was winding down. In the background, whatever playlist we were using changed the tune and the first bars of Famous Blue Raincoat started playing. The volume was low and most people were focused on where they had to get to, then someone asked the room “What time is it?” And Leonard Cohen answered through our makeshift sound system:

After we all laughed, someone actually checked the time and, turns out Leonard Cohen was right. It was just after 4am. On the Plateau, a few blocks from where Cohen had written some of his most famous songs. Where he lived for many years with Marianne Ihlen. Yes, So Long, Marianne is named after her, not Marie-Anne street that borders Parc du Portugal.

The couple first lived on St-Laurent then moved to the other side of the park on Vallières Street. where Cohen still owned a home right up until his passing. No matter where his primary residence may have been, he always came back to Montreal for a visit. He also kept in touch with Ihlen for decades after the couple split, even writing a letter before she passed away herself last July which included the now prophetic line “I will follow you very soon.”

His doorway is now a makeshift memorial with Cohen music playing out of an old boombox as people continue to leave candles, pictures and other messages as a tribute to the man’s life and the poetry and music he left us. There was a large gathering of Cohen fans, friends and neighbours and a group singing of some of his biggest hits Saturday and another memorial gathering by the Portuguese community today.

A similar shrine has popped up outside the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, made famous in this Cohen tune:

While New York mourns him, a city where he lived and wrote for quite a while, and the rest of the world will surely miss him, too. Montreal was always a part of Cohen and he has been a part of our culture for decades and will be for decades more.

People have been floating ideas for a permanent memorial, like renaming a street, a part of a street or building some sort of monument. Some have even suggested renaming Parc du Portugal in his honour, which would take the approval of the Plateau Borough and the Portuguese Community, but seems the most likely to me along with possibly re-naming Vallières to honour him. Renaming Marie-Anne as some have suggested just wouldn’t make sense.

It was even suggested, by the new PQ leader of all people, to give Cohen a state funeral a la Rene Angelil, but then we found out that he had already been buried. Turns out Cohen passed away on Monday in Los Angeles and his body was flown to Montreal for a small family funeral on Thursday afternoon, after which he was interred in his family’s plot on the foot of Mount Royal.

Then, Thursday evening, Cohen’s official Facebook page notified the world that the man who was a legend had left us. No chance of a large, expensive and ostentatious affair paid for with public funds. Leonard Cohen saw to it that his funeral would be a low key affair, in perfect keeping with his style.

Over the past few days, quite a few of my fellow Montrealers have been posting about encounters they had with Cohen on social media and telling their anecdotes to reporters. While I never had the opportunity to run into him myself, I vicariously feel like I have.

All the stories paint a similar picture. That of a total gentleman who would hold the door for a stranger carrying too much stuff, would leave the house impeccably dressed no matter what time it was or what he was doing, would hang around as a member of the community without any pretension, respectful of his neighbours and pleasant to any random fan who happened to catch his eye.

Through his music and lyrics, we all got the chance to know him. He was a down-to-earth guy who had an uncanny ability to observe and understand human nature and the gift to be able to translate that understanding into brilliantly crafted lyrics. He also had the forethought to realize that if he set those lyrics to music and delivered them more like a poet with a backup band than a traditional singer it would work.

When it came to politics, he was a cynic, sure. But even at his most cynical, he was also optimistic:

but he always kept it real:

and was fierce fighter:

The impact this man had on the culture at large, the culture here in Montreal and millions of people, most who never met him, is immeasurable. I tried to include as many tunes as possible in this post, but it barely scratches the surface of even just my favourite Leonard Cohen songs, let alone what this legend had to offer over the decades.

Leonard Cohen, so long, sir, you will always be with us.

Originally set to take place at the Atwater Library, Dyad Press’ poetry reading, titled “Former Members,” ended up down the street at a small park.



Picnic tables were pushed together to form a makeshift seating area as the twenty-odd attendees gathered to hear Jesse Anger, Hannah Hackney, Quincy R. Lehr, John Wall Barger, Marc Di Saverio, Carmine Starnino, and Ernest Hilbert.



“This is perfect somehow,” remarked Barger before beginning his reading. Despite the change of plans, the outdoor venue was indeed a perfect setting. Each poet read his or her pieces in the cool evening while backlit by the setting sky.

In an absurd twist of events, the Montreal police decided the poetry reading was an illegal gathering that posed a risk to the Atwater community and demanded the party leave. Before departing, and within earshot of the SPVM officer, Hilbert had time to read “The Gelding.” According to Hilbert, the poem speaks to the institutional suppression of creative freedom. How fitting.


The night ended across the street, on public property, with a compelling reading in near darkness by Di Saverio. For light, Hilbert held up his cell phone on flashlight mode over Di Saverio’s shoulder.

For a poetry reading, I imagine this is as exciting as it gets. How many can say they’ve been one poem away from being tear gassed? 

Photos By: Richard Malouf

We have all been there – having that one person in your life that you love so much it scares the shit out of you. The fear of being rejected is one of the most common fears faced by all people. You go to speak your mind and no words form.

When it is impossible to say how you really feel a soul bearing letter or lust inspired poem is the most logical therapy. Trust me it’s better than sending a drunken text message (or writing a letter and putting it in a tin foil swan full of pot brownies and putting them inside his unlocked car – which I’ve done).

I have been writing unsent love letters since my first real crush. I wrote about his blue hair, his love of The Misfits, and about feeling butterflies whenever his skateboard rolled past my house or the fact that he chose to sit next to ME on the bus everyday. My unrequited teenage love is well documented in notebooks full of poems that have never seen the light of day. They are beautiful, honest, sincere, and so very naive.

My newest letters are written in the notes section of my phone, generally when I am stoned and feeling lonely. I get naked on stage for a living and my art and blogs focus on the things that most people fear the most, but I don’t give a fuck. Except when it comes to love, I am still the chicken shit teenager watching every crush move on or get friend zoned because I never told them how I felt. How can someone be so confident but so afraid?

These letters are patched together and may or may not be to the same person, may be old or current, and they are definitely real. They are all for “You,” whoever that may be…

You can listen to this while you read them:

You make me smile and your smile ignites my heart’s desire, a panty fire. Your scent envelopes my sensibilities. Smoking whiskey and drinking marijuana. Forever yearning and burning myself on the oven grates. French bread pizzas instead of French kisses. Great. This is that moment when I try to kiss you and if you kiss me back I tell you exactly how I feel and if it doesn’t work and you don’t then I blame it on the drugs and continue living the lie. Lying on the love seat with you on the couch. I’d rather feel you in my sheets, listen to the sound of your sleep, pressing against me with your perfect nakedness. Baring your soul through a wall. Not greater or more real than the wall around my heart. A barbed wire fence like Pam Anderson’s bad tattoo. With a mote filled with flesh eating trolls. I want to tell you everything.

Mister take my hand. It’s not small like the other girls. The nails are chewed dirty chipped. The callouses and paint stains abundant , hands that work hard, hands that love strong, the hands of an artist, double jointed, scarred. Scared. I want to untangle your hair, defeat the demons that haunt you, undo the girls who have hurt you, relinquish the reasons why you hold back. I feel you in these tepid rain drops, I hear you in every song. I want to be the girl you come home to and the one you let tag along. Let’s inspire eternity in each other, make art and love that lasts far after our eyes are eaten by worms or burned.

It’s hard to leave when all I wanna do is stay. Good night ol’ buddy ol’ pal is what you say, and I guess I can’t have it any other way. I love you like the summertime, more than chicken wings or the sweetest wine, I’d kiss your face and say your fine, live in your warmth ’till the end of time. You sweet man, just doin’ the best you can. I will always be one of many, forever just your biggest fan.

You are so beautiful and I’m terrified I never said anything because I knew it wouldn’t accomplish anything. I will always wonder and hope that you will feel the same way, but just like I have no choice in how I feel about you, you don’t have a choice in not feeling the same. It’s just how life goes, wanting what doesn’t want us back.

You ran away and I wish I had chased. You terrify me and intrigue me equally. The more I get to know you the more I want to know. You make me want to swing dance. You are an incredible artist, fearlessly funny, and you can cook! Take me now.

You are everything I could ever dream for in a human. I know we talked about this once, I don’t want to ever tie you down, your free spirit is what makes you so special.I would love to travel the world and do filthy sexy dirty things to you. I want to activate the benefits portion of our friendship.

You know every single time I leave I want to kiss you goodnight right? I punch the cold early morning air when I get to the bottom of the steep stairs and lock the door behind me “Fuck, why am I so scared?” I always hope to hear you stomp down the stairs,throw the door open, with no words, grab me, and make love right there. Passionate kisses and an animalistic embrace. With only some dirty laundry as our witness. Fuck your couch. Oh to fall asleep in your arms. Sweaty and covered in the musk of lust. I want you so hard that I masturbate to your photos. I think I’m falling in love with you, or whatever that means.

I never needed anything until I saw your beautiful everything, I’m floating. I will cook the foods you love the most, play the records that move your soul. I want to make art with you, because of you, to you. You inspire me to explore, the only one who stops me dead in my tracks, no turning back, and I’m scared that you don’t feel the same, I can’t let you slip away. I’ve got a lot to say but draw a blank. The man in my dreams never had a face until I met you.

This summer was my first foray into trying my hand at reading poetry. The Résonance Reading Series is not even a year old and this summer saw a new addition to regular poetry events in Montreal.

Kafein began hosting Poetry Nights: a combination of poetry readings, DJ sets (Noah Bick), and delicious drinks. A small eclectic community has begun to form around these word wielding nights. Below are four pieces by poets who have left impressions on my poetry crushin’ heart.

untitled by Ariana Molly

I want to be a kid and do kid things and follow (break) kid rules.
Adulthood is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.
What happened to time outs and 8 p.m. bed time?
What happened to being my dad’s little fish and my mom’s little helper?
I just want to dance to ‘Beat It’ and the Beach Boys Endless Summer vinyl in my basement that had the swings my dad built.
I want my backyard pool and my turtle shaped sandbox.
I want my mad science birthday party where I wore metallic purple lipstick to match my purple butterfly dress.
I want platform shoes and colourful scrunchies and barrettes.
I want to be a virgin.
I want my powder pink room with the hand painted accents my mom paid a fortune for.
I want my canopy.
I want it to be cute when I act like a princess.
I want my hair to curl with the innocence it used to and I want to cut it badly with safety scissors.
What happened to my Dr. Seuss collection?
What happened to my parents’ wedding photos?
What happened to my childhood home the eggplant coloured dining room?
I want my pink plaid window seat I built with my dad.
I want my pink polka dot mini skirt because it made me feel like a rock star.
I want my collection of tapes.
Is it wrong to miss prissy private school and backstabbing little girls?
Is it wrong to miss my normal family?
I wanted to be an adult so badly because adulthood was romanticized.
I walked out of the womb an adult.
I wanted to wear a g-string and have boobs.
I wanted a boy to call me baby.


Ariana Molly kick-started Poetry Night and has watched it blossom from infanthood to what it is today. She came here one year ago from Ottawa and has nestled quite nicely into life in the big city. She also works as the Style Editor of local web magazine The Main and attends Concordia University as a photography major.



itching to break this bone prison by Gonzo Nieto

if you’re still itching to break this bone prison
be your own prism, shatter the lights and grow brilliant
there’s a billion of folks who froze quick and won’t listen
they call themselves adults, I relate more to grown children
with a sense of wonder and some jokes cracked, ponder the smokestacks
if it’s about the process, why are we rushing through so fast?
I barely made it out the door though the choke gas
now I’m out here in the cold breeze, eyes closed
hands out not asking for change, just to hold peace
.. actually I take back the change bit
I’ve got this list written, I could try and explain
see I’ve been doing some thinking, not on purpose, it just happened
but I don’t think I’d be happy with my final pictures caption
if it said, “this man had talent but he didn’t have the passion
had the tools to make it work but never worked to make it happen
grappled with abstractions and was always glancing backwards
losing focus and being passive were the hallmarks of his actions”
I dealing with a loss of potential, the cost of correcting
the habits passed down from the past to the present
gas, too expensive, I’ll find my own ride inside
to find comfort in and ride out these messes
with pride intact, ‘til I die, in fact
‘cause you can’t own your present ‘til you own your past
existential facts you can’t avoid or evade
you’ll go mad trying to find holes to escape from ‘em
I once thought I knew more than I do now
sporting a loose crown, core resting on loose ground,
battles and feuds waged, but no challenging truths found
and when I look back now, all I wear’s a confused frown
so short-sighted.. guess it’s good that we grow, right?
or grow left or grow despite our best efforts to freeze time
but never regret strides, and keep in mind it’s just a ride
and find clarity behind those closed eyes
‘cause if you’re still itching to break this bone prison
be your own prism, shatter the lights and grow brilliant
there’s a billion of folks who froze quick and won’t listen
they call themselves adults, but I relate more to grown children


Gonzo is a spoken word performer and writer. His work seeks to reflect the fluidity and nonlinear nature of thought, and tends to put an emphasis on complex rhyme schemes and tightly-controlled rhythm. He performs around the city of Montreal, where he is pursuing a degree in psychology and neuroscience.


Concrete Lights by Cam Novak 

We are lost in the darkness of city lights.
The truth is concrete will never replace the dirt beneath our feet.
The trees reach for space they created and look for refuge.
There are too many feet on this trail, where do the bloodless live anymore?
A forced intervention in a conflict never imagined. A hole in the heart that swells the eyes of those who look at the horizon.
A birth of an idea, this is what we need.
Those Cherished feelings of hope to help those who walk their path and face their dreams and not their feet.
We’ve left this too long, my lips wont stay shut.
They have a mission to open wide and encourage the mind to follow.
Strange how we have forgotten what gave us our minds.
Memories are piled into garbage bags and turned into soil for rotten thoughts.


Cam is a self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist who’s work tackles many issues and questions revolving around the use of public space and identity. For more of his work, see is website.



the martyr by Andrew Jamieson

spewing from your mouth
that stench
cheap smoke
cheap drink
yah, you’re shaking with that rage

and this boy is sad,
you, you made him sad
and this boy is scared,
yah man you made him scared.

he is trying so hard to hate you

and suddenly! it’s common fucking knowledge

you tell him no, no
like he’s a child
and he wants to defy you
but his mouth
it’s filled with blood.
and he wants to beg for mercy
but that kiss took more than his breath away.
this is your fantasy and you know everything he is going to say.

you want him to leave,
don’t you?? to run,
run run run runaway
but he won’t, he caaan’t,
cuz you’re a drug…

(but nobody will tell me what it fucking means.)


Andrew Jamieson is a  writer, director, actor and performance artist living in Montreal. Andrew’s prose exhibits an uninhibited, unrelenting honesty through  personal experiences, all the while encompassing an unwavering unapologetic ethos. His book, Faith and Force – The Egoist’s Complex will be available in January 2014. 


Check out Kafein’s next Poetry Night on September 17th at 8 p.m.

Photos by Michael Colatruglio.

 Earlier this summer, I began journeying back into the world of poetry reading, a scene I had exited almost five years ago, and attended one of Montreal’s new reading series organized by local poet Klara Du Plessis at the lovely Resonance Cafe. Jon Paul Fiorentino was one of two featured readers and took to the stage at the end of the event. I’m not sure what caught my attention first, the wit in his poetry, or the copy of Hello Serotonin that he threw right by my head as part of his performance. Let’s call this a very memorable first impression indeed.

Fiorentino is a young author with an impressive body of work including full length books, contributions to literary anthologies, radio essays, scholarly articles and criticism. His past full length books of poetry and fiction include Indexical Elegies (2010) Stripmalling (2009), soon to be produced into a feature length film, Asthmatica (2005), Hello Serotonin (2004), Transcona Fragments (2002). He is currently a professor at Concordia University where he teaches creative writing.1289851_10151640572503297_849750968_n

After my encounter with Jon Paul Fiorentino at the Resonance Reading Series, it seemed that we kept bumping into each other around the city at local shows and poetry readings. After a little while, I decided it was time for me to read one of his books. On September 8th, Fiorentino is launching his latest book of poetry entitled Needs Improvement.

Needs Improvement is Fiorentino’s sixth collection of poems. In these pages, Fiorentino takes a critical look at the language of education and the way in which pedagogy coerces and enforces certain types of performances. Split into three sections, Needs Improvement, is satirical, witty, and ironically educational in the ways of  poetry and language. Of the collection, “Lowerhand”, “The Report Card of Leslie Mackie”, ‘Guide for Taking the Exams’ and “Open Source” are standouts. Furthermore, the schemas used in the ‘Pedagogical Interventions’ section are poignantly tongue-in-cheek and a treat for those familiar with the seminal works of Foucault, Butler, Freud, and more.

In light of the launch, I had the chance to quickly interview Jon Paul Fiorentino about his writing process, his wit, and Needs Improvement.

Poets you admire/enjoy currently?

JPF: David McGimpsey, Darren Wershler, Darren Bifford, Margaret Christakos, Sina Queyras, Ken Babstock, Christian Bok, Mike Spry, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Jessica Grim, Catherine Hunter, John K Samson. I am happily all over the map.

What is your writing process like?

JPF: Drink, cry, write, rinse, repeat.

What inspires you generally, and more specifically when it came to writing Needs Improvement?

JPF: If this book has a “cause,” I suppose it would be anti-bullying. Needs Improvement addresses the way we receive instructional, evaluative, and pedagogical language. It reveals how teachers are often the worst bullies and it advocates for a space for the marginalized, different, odd.

What would you say was the greatest challenge in writing this book?

JPF: I “wrote” some visual schematics for seminal texts and a series of fake report cards. It was a lot of labour to come up with a design that looked like grainy photocopies of 1980s report cards. The schematics were fun to do, but also very labour intensive. Graphic design is one of my unhealthy habits.

You have an impressive amount of publications under your belt, can you tell us a bit  about your journey thus far as a writer?

JPF: I started young. But I’m glad I did. I am proud of my early books, warts and all. The early juvenilia is still mine and it makes it clear how far I’ve come. I am no longer afraid of saying a thing simply and clearly. Nor am I afraid of letting myself go in the name of linguistic experimentation.


Wit and comedic ability seem to be at the core of your work, where do you think this comes from? 

JPF: I think I use humour (less so in poetry than in prose) because it’s a natural component of my rhetoric. I was a weird little kid and got picked on a lot. I developed a heightened sense of humour in part because it was the best way to negotiate with bullies. The adult world has even more bullies and I find myself in the unique position of being able to call them out. Humour is an excellent all-in-one tool for disarming thoughtless, evil people.

What would you say has changed in terms of your writing since your last book?

JPF: I think I am more at ease with the idea of the intersection of activism and art in writing. I’ve always believed in this intersection, but I wasn’t always able to be so direct about it in my own practice. I think things changed for me quite recently when I began to write op-eds about things like sexism, depression, mental health advocacy.

Jon Paul Fiorentino launches Needs Improvement on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at Sparrow (5322 Boul. St-Laurent). Readings by Fiorentino and special guests: Jacob Spector, Julie Mannell, Mike Spry, and Jason Camlot. Event website: http://www.chbooks.com/events/sept-8-jon-paul-fiorentino-needs-improvement-montreal-book-launch-2013-09-08 

I must learn to control my anger

Control my anguish

Control my angst


Ranting and raving and complaining

Can all be counterproductive

I really should learn to be complacent

To become apathetic towards myself and my world

To turn into a stone, or at least a   vegetable.

I’d likely make a terrible vegetable.

Probably something poisonous.


I was always taught that right is right

Left is left. Unless it’s my left. Right?

Is there anything left?

I think I’m wrong.


The left can’t be on the right, can it?

Unless you turn around.

Half way.

Then what was left is now right. And what was right is now left.

Turn around.

I’m getting dizzy

I don’t want to fight.

And I have a bulldozer coming a little too close

And it’s advancing.

On the other side of me is a very long cliff-drop,

And the bulldozer’s driver is suicidal

And fully intends to drive his bulldozer

Over the edge

But he’s insisting on sending me down with him!


Argueing for the sake of argueing and

Fighting for the sake of fighting is pointless.


Anger is natural, and a normal response to stimuli that irritate a person.

Different stimuli affect different people in different ways.

But anger has also a chemical component

A naturally produced component that is extremely addictive

And many people become addicted

To being angry

Which is why anger management is a necessity.


I’ve learned somewhat how to manage my anger, but not entirely.

I know some people who are always yelling and screaming at me

About things that make hem angry

And they love to yell at me, and see me squirm and cringe

Because I don’t react much to other people’s anger.

Well, that’s not exactly true.


So please,

Stop yelling at me

About the idiot customer who forgot to tip you this morning,

And about the coworker who got in your way and cut you off

Or about how I never do the dishes when I do them all the time

Or about how I’m not pulling my weight when I have been all along

Or about how other people aren’t pulling their weight


There are even people out there

Who think I’m guilty of everything

No trial

No question

No chance of any possibility

I’m guilty.

If it happened centuries before I was born,

I’m guilty.

If it happened somewhere I have never been to,


If it happened anywhere or any time I wasn’t there

I’m   guilty!

I know,

I have no patience for stupidity in traffic,

I have no patience for traffic or stupidity or things and people who are in my way,

blocking me from what and where I’m going to

Thwarting me

People who tell me to be patient when they just waste my time!


Then there are the swindlers, the liars, and the cheats

The psychotic upheavals

There is war in the streets

In some places.

But the news media only publishes

What the man wants you to know

So some celebrity’s underwear photo

Eclipses a war.


Images from: http://boundariesandbridges.blogspot.com/


Poetry for July 18, 2011.

Perhaps this is coming a bit too soon,
Since I wrote all that poetry back in June
But I couldn’t quite
Come up with tonight’s
Topic on which to rant and write.

Once upon a setting sun
A police officer pulled out his gun
And examined it, it had been fired
At someone innocent, now expired
He laughed to himself
With a new taste for blood
“I don’t even have to run!”

The sinister minister administered things
Because he wanted to reach high brass rings
Secretly he wanted to be the boss,
But he was instead the yes man,
Dealing with the dross

Once there was a man
Who built a dam
That was worth a damn.
But he’s dead now.

Some people don’t know
All the things I know
But most people
Know more than me
My view of the world
Is often cracked, warped and cynical
And I know that not everyone agrees.

My mail is slow, much too slow
I’m waiting for extra weeks
I don’t really know
Why this is so
So very slow

Strike Backlog!

I think this blow
Causing this slow
Will make it so
I must give up more control

I’m considering Direct Deposit!

All my life I’ve been called a loser,
A moron, hoser
And a worthless poser
A faker, a taker, and even a breaker
But it’s all done by a bunch of bullies
Who would likely sue me if I’d stand up to ‘em
So I might just consider
Taking the gun to shoot ‘em
But then…

I’m a nice guy
And I’m short, and fat
And broke
Needless to say, I never get laid,
But then it’s also confidence I lack

I want a man eating plant in my garden.
On second thought, maybe not.

I wish I could’ve come up with something new
But this week it just got away from me
I’d be repeating myself
If I wrote anything that’s bothering me  at the moment
I wish I could sleep,
But this heat is keeping me up.

Rod Roddy is dead.
from cancer of the mantits
around seven or eight years ago
I thought you knew that


and another thing…
Fish, can drown.
You are not a fish.
therefore you cannot drown
except that you can
logic doesn’t always act logically, does it?

Summer is nice
It’s warm outside
Everyone wears less clothing

The shapelessness of winter
Is no longer seen
And bared bodies are now partly showing

Summer is nice
But sunburns are not
And neither are the mosquitoes

Summer is nice
But not the humidity
And not the difficulty to breathe

Winter is nice.

Nuclear explosions with mushroom clouds
Are photographed for posters to be put up on the wall
By hepcats, coolcats,   scenesters, hipsters and hippies too
And let’s not forget the punks.

And while there are combinated formations of the above in current existence
And while I happen to be friends with many of them
And while I would be among them if I were ten years younger
And yet, I am among them
And I
Am a combinated combination of the above.

The Montreal International Infringement Spoken Word Show is tomorrow! I’m hosting this year’s event at the infringement festival! Come and see it, as it is a show not to be missed! the show starts at 8:00 sharp, at the Concordia co-op bookstore. Now, to whet your appetite, here’s some poetry:


Whitewashed fences
Whitewashed faces
Apple sauce dreams of chocolate incense
Under the microscope of mental iniquity

My inaptitudes are not inadequate
Lost among the jetsam,
Founded in deep blood
Forged upon anvils inn furnace-fire hammering.

I wish I could be hammering
I wish I could be hammered
I wish I had the dollar
But I ain’t got the sound

Ain’t got no lettuce
T’ throw all ‘round

is every where

underground is where the fun is,
underground is where the sun is
but sleeping in the cemetery
is not the option I’ve chosen

so I roam and I ramble,
hike thru brush &bramble
since my life’s a shamble
is it worth the gamble?

No. it isn’t.

Mr. Seek and Dr. Hide

Mr. Seek searches for things
Like the things that he can’t find
Because there is always
Dr. Hide.

Dr. Hide hides things
And forgets where they’re hidden
Dr. Hide   hides the things
That Mr. Seek needs.

Dr, Hide, it seems, must always
Hide the things Mr. Seek needs
And Mr. Seek finds frustration
And useless things all bundled up
Where useful things should be.

Mr. Seek is always searching
For the things that disappear
For Dr. hide hides them
And pretends to join the search!

Dr. Hide hides things
And forgets where they’re hid
Dr. Hide   hides the things
That Mr. Seek did.

Mr. Seek searches for things,
The things that he cannot find
Because there is, as always,
Dr. Hide.

Electric Mayhem

After a humiliating wait
And entering late
We can find our fate

Heavy fines
For having good times
Tainting the positives
And tainting the pronoia
With paranoia and pain

Ears hear as if in a bubble
Ringing out their Tinnitus
Blood coursing in magnetized flow
Thirty thousand watts and three thousand decibels
Hair is flying
Bald heads are bobbing
The whole joint is throbbing

Metallic soundwaves course
And magnetize the iron in the blood
To the extent that the body complains bitterly to the brain
But the brain overrides the pain and insists that a stationary stature be maintained
With bouncing body and banging head
Hair is flying
Everywhere is coursing
With metallic electrical energies
Nuclear blasts of electric mayhem
Frying circuits overloaded
And this catharsis
Is the gratifying reward for

A Humiliating Wait
Of long, drawn-out processes
Elaborated and elongated by others, stretched by outsiders
Beyond all patience

Ears hear as if in a bubble
Ringing out their Tinnitus
Blood coursing in magnetized flow
Thirty thousand watts and three thousand decibels

Hair is flying
Bald heads are bobbing
The whole joint is throbbing

Beyond all patience.

This is the second in a series of poetry posts by FTB ranter Laurence Tenenbaum in anticipation of his spoken-word performance at the Montreal Infringement Festival next Tuesday, June 21st at the Concordia co-op bookstore. This week, three more offerings. Will you get to hear them live, too? Well, there’s only one way to find out..

Blue Bonnets

Well, straight out of the gate,
I’m a little too late
They don’t race horses here anymore.

The exitement used to build
An audience thrilled
Though gambling and cheating were common

A trip to the past
Where gangsters and mobsters
And my uncle used to bet

On who’s horse would win it
And whose horses wouldn’t
And all of them were

Now the building sits empty, abandoned, alone,
The parking lot is filled with shopping malls now

No more stables,
No more horses,
The city owned it for it’s last few years
But now

Maybe somebody won too big a prize.

Nothing Personal

It’s hard not to take it personally
When you keep attacking my person
Harass and harangue
Waste your time and mine
All for a debt
Related to a crime
Which I am the victim
But I Cannot prove
No matter the outcome
I’m set up to lose

Destruction of my integrity
Attack against my being
And for defending myself:
Terminal sentence.

I’m not supposed to take it personally,
But you attack my person
You attack my people
You attack me.


Constant frustrations, annoyances, and woes
Calls to remind me of all my owes

Evil attacks against my life
Forced to live alone, without children, or wife

No matter what I do, it seems
That I can never win
To most people I’m a loser, before I even can begin

And I live in a world
Where I’m forced to compete
Against a million billion people, who are all better than me

And then there is the fact, that I’m not ‘Pure Laine’
And then there is the fact that I’ve been fired again,
And then there is the fact that I mask my misery to myself

And then there is the fact that I’ve been sitting on the shelf
And the fact that I’ve been dieing inside
And the fact that they want to beat my hide

And then there are all the traps I’ve fallen into
All the baits I’ve taken
The lives I’ve shaken,
And all for what?

35 and a half years, and nothing to show for it
From the time I was small, I wanted to go for it
But always found out that I couldn’t
Since someone else beat me to it
Or I couldn’t go through it,
Usually because I was just too broke to do it

Sometimes I feel like I can’t even afford the things that are “free”
Especially when surrounding it is something with a fee

Constant frustrations, annoyances, and woes,
Call to remind me of my owes.

June is here! Which means that the 8th annual Montreal international infringement festival is coming up fast. Last year I displayed paintings, which I will be doing again, at Xpression Gallery. I am also hosting the spoken word show at the Concordia co-op bookstore on June 21st.

During the month of June, I will be posting poetry for the month, some of which I may perform in the festival.

… And they’re off!

I sit here waiting
Ready to spring forth
Holding my breath,
For the gate
To open
I hear the bugle call, the gate opens,
And from a standstill we all leap forwards, fast into a quick gallop,

Running like the wind
Around the track
We’ve all got weird names,
And then there’s the money
That our owners and sponsors have bet
On or against us

I’m running round the track with all my might,
Competing against thirteen other horses
And if I lose
I’m good as glue.

The Better Mousetrap

After many years of research
And clinical trials
I found myself still wondering
Couldn’t keep from pondering

After many years of frustrations
In what I’m trying to do
I may think I have the answer
But it ends up in a stew

Everything I’ve tried
Just turned out wrong
I’m trying to invent it
The mice just scurry along

But, I’ve found an answer
That’s been here all along
God’s made a better mousetrap
The notion hit me like a gong

Though the mice may scurry
And seem to escape
My mousetrap is furry
And hunts them

But human greed,
Seems to be in the way
Legions of people to pay
Who insist on a spray

And they, should stay, away!

After many years of research
And clinical toils
To build a better mousetrap
Previously foiled

But now I know the answer
So simple at that
The best type of mousetrap
Is known as…
…The cat.

Things we lost in the fire.

There was a fire
Back at the old house
And we were lucky to escape with our lives
We couldn’t afford insurance,
And we’re lucky to have survived

But of the things I now desire
Include the things I lost in the fire
My typewriter, and my TV set,
My fan and my chairs
My diplomas from school,
My safety power bars,
cables, and wires
All things I lost in the fire.

There was a fire
That an arsonist had set
Back in the old place
We couldn’t afford insurance then,
And we’re lucky we could stay with friends

But of the things that I currently desire
Were among the things we lost in the fire
My golf clubs, and my gardening gear
The lawnmower, the phone,
Left behind in fear,
The fridge and the washer,
The microwave and the dryer,
All of those things we lost in the fire

There was a fire
That an arsonist had set
Back in the old place
We had no insurance then,
We were lucky that we could stay with friends

But of all the things I still desire
Were the irreplaceables lost in the fire
Like all my paintings, on which I worked so hard
My diplomas from school, which I had to earn
That fucking arsonist had to burn
Along with my records,
And all else above

There was a fire
And I got burned.

Once upon a time there was an empty box.

Over time, the box became fuller and fuller, mostly with people’s mindsets.

People were either thinking inside of the box, or deliberately thinking outside the box.

The main trouble with either of those things was that it tended to polarize people’s thinking.

You were either in it or out of it.

The walls of the box were rules that must either be followed or broken,

and it must be either/or instead of simplicity.

I admit it, I’m very sloppy.

I’ve forgotten the box altogether.

I’m like that rogue cop who never bothered to read the book that his partner lives by.

I may be messy, or unorthodox, some of the time, and still, quite clean, neat, and very orthodox much of the rest of the time,

and I often intentionally blur the lines that make up the rules.

In fact, I never really saw this aforementioned box.

~Laurence Tenenbaum