Pete Otis Presents Words and music reunited for the holiday season

Nik Beat, poet will be performing

Nik Beat, poet will be performing

by Gary 17 – I’ve never really understood the divide between songwriters and poets. After all, poetry (at least good poetry) rests on meter and beat as much as on rhyme or even the actual words employed, while songs are little more than forgettable sonic fragments without words that stick to the psychic ribs.

Yet for some reason in the popular arena shows are geared towards one or the other of the forms of expression. Even though that really is completely unnatural, when you think about it. But happily, we’ll see just how nicely the two art forms do dovetail at a Christmas season celebration show being put on at Toronto’s Black Swan Tavern on Friday, December 20.

While songwriting and music have never gotten an actual divorce, it does seem like they’ve been separated from one another for far too long, so it’s nice to see them getting back together like this in such a public way just before Christmas.

I started out as a poet in my teens myself, and only started writing songs in my mid-twenties, when I realized that it was the musicians who were getting laid while we poets were, as poet-songwriter Jody Ferrer so succinctly puts it, “stuck in the friend zone”.

I still write poetry, though it’s usually my songs I perform publicly, since that is still what people seem to gravitate towards most readily. I do, however, always welcome poets as part of my open stages (as long as they’re actual poets and not mental cases looking for an opportunity to spout venom disguised as and hiding under the protective shield of poetic expression –my call as to which is which).

WM-poster-v4b-192x300And happily, there are a few regular events in Toronto that combine and equally respect both poetry and music together. The most notable to me is the monthly first-Saturday-afternoon series put on at a swank Bay St. eatery known as Portobello by gifted versifier Linda Stitt and equally satisfying songsmith Peter Solmes, who co-host and each month feature an impressive array of talents from both camps taking turns at the mic.

There should be more of that sort of thing and, serendipitously, that’s exactly what you can expect at the Swan event, co-presented by Pete Otis and his SongTown music promotions company and literary booster Sheila Horne. This $5 or pay-what-you-can show upstairs in the club at 154 Danforth Ave. features a panopoly of talents from each discipline [see photo of poster] and will be shepherded by the perfect host for such a soiree – CIUT-radio’s host of the weekly “Howl” music and poetry show and poet/songwriter in equal measure Nik Beat.