Toronto is a city that is continuously reinventing itself at the forefront of Canada’s arts scene. Toronto plays host to every category of event there is; from displays of colourful culture to music festivals and pride parades, it acts not only as a collective for emerging talents but those who have been emerging for quite a while.

Here in Toronto, talented minds frequently come together in order to create and share their work; among others, the flourishing poetry scene is one of the most enjoyable of this collective.

The poetry scene itself thrives on the success of the city’s many reading series. These literary productions, each unique in their own variations, feature a cast of literary talent and all take place at venues throughout the city.

I was fortunate enough to attend one such event last night in the form of the final Emerging Writers Reading Series of the 2015 spring season.

The EW Reading series has been a staple on the Toronto poetry circuit since host and creator Jess Taylor brought it to life in 2012. EW welcomes submissions from all those who “have yet to publish a major work.”

The audience at last nights “Jewelled June” event were treated to a comfortable, chatty and French-fry filled atmosphere at Duffy’s Tavern on Bloor, the home of the reading series since its inception.

EW hosted a batch of emerging bards that included fiction specialist Netta Kornberg, poets Peter Gibbon and Tanya Decarie and exciting new voices Paige Keleher and Eric Bennett.

On a month that EW organizers dedicated to Alaskan born super-poet Jewel, there was poetry both stage and page, short stories and the launching of a new project Lunatic Villas; a graphic novel about the life of Canadian writer Marian Engel.


Peter Gibbon and Tanya Decarie exchanged spots on the stage during the opening slot of the event, reading personal poetry from their own collections.

They then took to the podium in tandem to announce that issue-2 pt.1 of Lunatic Villas is now be available online.

Issue-1 was reviewed and received positively and has garnered a lot of excitement for graphic novel and Marian Engel fans alike. Graphic novels, after all, are an important part of current literary culture. The outstanding artwork by Tanya, coupled with Peter Gibbon’s original and witty text, form an impressive collaboration.

After seeing their work thus far, one can only hope the duo continue to publish, be it online or more ambitiously in print.

As my evening grew to a close, I thanked the organizers for putting on a fantastic event and congratulated them on the completion of their spring season. I then recalled advice I had overheard earlier in the evening-assuring words to a reader anxious about reading on stage.

“Trust me, you’ll feel better having done it.”

It hit me that that really is the beauty of a thing like Emerging Writers; everyone feels better having attended. Everyone leaves having heard and seen more talent than they did before. Being a part of a unique and inspiring evening…seeing that many people together in the name of their art. It’s the kind of night that really gets you thinking.

By Jordan Chevalier

Jordan can be reached at (yes, Hotmail). Follow Jordan on Twitter at @Jcheval and read his contributions for Step On Magazine at @StepOnMagTO; he also welcomes submissions of all shapes and sizes for publication on his poetry blog SYNAPSE. 

Lunatic Villas:
Twitter: @lunaticvillas

Emerging Writers: