Plasticine Turns 5

Got out to Plasticine Poetry (October 16, 2011) to help celebrate their 5th anniversary. Congratulations to Michael & his host Cathy (Charlie in 2021) for being so dedicated. Having run &/or hosted more than a couple of reading series myself, I know the hard work that goes into it – the sweat waiting for people to arrive is the icing on the cake – speaking of which thanks for the anniversary cake – great poetry and eating your cake too – who could ask for more?


Plasticine has wisely moved their stage to a more central point in the room and away from the piano – poetry in the round – which gave us improved sight lines for more of the room. Unwise was to put the few open-stagers on at the end of the show – by the time they hit the stage over half the room had departed.

Charlie Petch, in a kick-ass pair of boots, didn’t seemed all that exhausted from competing in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, but was happy to participate in a show where score cards weren’t being held aloft.


The first set started off with Plasticine’s organizer Michael Fraser – he read romantic new pieces, tributes to his youthful inspiration: James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and some from his book which he was going to offer for a special anniversary price but left the copies at home. He was followed (I think) by Natalie Zina Walschots, whom I have never heard before. She did a great engaging set of comic fan-gal material that transcended its origins with pieces that worked even without knowing the supervillians to whom she paid tribute.


She was followed by David Silverberg, also looking remarkably fresh from the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word – which he helped organize here in Toronto. As always he did a strong set of accessible yet cerebral material, some comic, some commentary. Plus a great audience participation – we gave nouns, verbs etc that substituted for nouns verbs etc in a well-loved piece of poetry.

After the break the second set started with James Dewar – another poet I’ve heard many times before and always enjoy. Relaxed and tender – he makes heterosexuality almost seem like a good thing. The final feature was Margaret Christakos – another poet I’ve never heard before. I found her an engaging reader. The material lifted well from the page but some of the connections were in the tangental shifts in the way words on the page bounced off of each other with echos that got lost, for me, as I tried to follow the drifting images.

If it’s fair to judge a series by the quality of it open-stagers Plasticine shines with short turns by RC Weslowski (here for the Festive), Adam Abbas (a feature at next month’s  Plasticine), Liz Howard  & Christian with a flame-thrower ode to the Art Bar.

writing sample
writing sample

I also hit the open stage with two new pieces. Here’s one of them:

Only Three Units Left

a grudge match

women with baby buggies

jostle to get by

each other

the patio

the man with his two sweet little dogs

the dog bark

the babies cry

the women

glare    dart their baby carriages

at each other  bitch   bitch

get out of the way bitch


fingers start to itch

welcome to murder city

new condos going up

thousands of units available

store clerk watches

teenagers shove each other

in front of the magazines

the pop cooler

teens mutter

get your fuckin’ eyes off me bitch

bitch bitch

prick prick prick

is it a crime to be a teenager


well in fact it is

here in murder city

shots or backfires

smell of burning

bbq or arson

something   someone

falls from a balcony

screech of car ties

blood  ketchup  paint on the street


all the same

here in murder city

don’t walk at night

behind a woman

even if you just

leave the subway at the same time

don’t walk behind her

she could turn scream  shoot you

get away with it


here in murder city

condos go up

poverty increases

throats cut   babies battered

cameras everywhere

to catch each drip

reporters to ask

did it feel sacred

were you scared scarred


here in murder city

chokes from the ally

gasps for help or sexual pleasure

who can tell

yeah fuck yeah fuck

ouch yeah ouch

yeah crime is sex

here in murder city

only three units left


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