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The Art Bar is recognized as Canada's longest running poetry-only, weekly reading series. Since 1991, it has featured both emerging and established poets from across Canada and occasionally from abroad. It has become a hub for the poetry community, and entry point for new voices, a place for people to enjoy one of the oldest arts.
While featuring no fewer than one hundred-twenty poets a year, The Art Bar provides another five hundred opportunities for people to present their poems on its open-stage. Twenty-five percent of its features are emerging poets (who have yet to see their first book published). The remaining seventy-five percent are mid- to advanced-career poets, many of whom have won local, national and international awards for their work.
The Art Bar enjoys an average weekly audience of approximately sixty-five people and is able to accommodate up to one hundred. It provides an inclusive venue for poetry and features poets from diverse backgrounds and from every province in Canada. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate by getting on stage, speaking to a poet, or simply applauding.
Art Bar poetry readings generally feature three poets performing their own work for twenty minutes, followed by ten poets each reading not more than three minutes on an open-stage. Featured poets are invited guests, and anyone from the audience is welcome to participate on the open stage - signup is usually during the first break.
The show starts at 8 pm. (Okay, 8:10) There is ample time between sets for people to talk with the featured poets, buy books and CDs, and get books signed (even if they were not bought at the Art Bar). People are welcome to stay after the show to mingle.
Theme nights are the exception to this format. These vary from year to year and include such nights as our annual Valentine's reading, Black History Night and Discovery Night. Occasionally, there is an All Open-Stage night.