#Toronto Desperado @redrocketcoffee

The October Racket at the Rocket was another fine line-up of diverse writers hosted by Sandra Cardinal. The Rocket was decked out in spooky cobwebs, skulls & rats. The pumpkin bar was excellent. Try one while there are on the menu. Also happy to see that management have built a small portable stage for the many music, comedy & spoken event that they are playing host to.

chrome skeleton at night
chrome skeleton at night

First feature was Jerry Levy who read a piece of one of the stories in his collection Urban Legend. He prefaced the section with a look at the Golem legend in literature. Although the story involved recreating the hero’s deceased fiancee the language was simple, direct & effectively drew us into the story without using, what I call the language of the eerie. Even in the short section he presented it was clear clinging to the past is responsibility not a solace.

day chairs
day chairs

Next up was Koom Kankesan with a section of one of his Rajapaksa Stories. A funny, sardonic take on the politics of Sri Lanka from someone who experienced it first-hand. The section showed how consumerism is gradually dominating culture – with a protagonist caught up in Chinese technology and fascinated with American ‘classic’ films. He made great use of the rat squeeze toys & had fun with the ‘you fucked my wife’ scene from Raging Bull. (my review of the book: https://topoet.ca/2013/10/28/the-rajapaksa-stories/)

flashed chrome skeleton at night
flashed chrome skeleton at night

After the break we heard poet Jean-Paul Bedard – he opened with a piece dealing with the bombing at Boston marathon he had run in. About the bombers he says ‘grasping out in desperation for the American Dream’. His rhymed pieces were filled with sharp observations: denizens of a coffee shop ‘they were broken in familiar places,’ after summer ‘all tanned and bruised.’ He successfully rhymed Toronto with desperado.

Final feature was Vanessa McGowan – who proved that great hair and cure shoes don’t detract from her emotionally compelling writing and performing. I’ve reviewed her several times now & am always happy to hear her again. Hard hitting lines: ‘you’re not disabled enough,’ a mother who ‘cut you so deep with her eyes,’ ‘the silence of sober made you feel small,’ & ‘ not in our family, playing like a loop,’ helped the audience acknowledging that she is ‘the miracle left to tell the story.’


On the open stage I read ‘Petition,’ ‘How Do I Fear Thee’ and

Harvest Moon

people told us

the Macintosh Manson

on Mapleview Road

was haunted

we kids didn’t believe them

so we went in there

to prove them wrong

at midnight on the harvest moon


were never seen again


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