Inspiritus Press: Bringing the Noise for PEN Canada

By | May 16, 2017 at 11:42 am | No comments | Blog | Tags: , ,

On April 29, 2017, Inspiritus Press organized a pop up street reading tour for National Poetry Month. Taking to the streets of Toronto, these roving poets raised funds and awareness for the work of PEN Canada. Our sincere thanks to the team at Inspiritus Press, who submitted the following report.

Bring the Noise Street Poetry Tour

Our vision at Inspiritus Press is to break down barriers of tradition, space, and ideas, and grow collaborative diverse communities of cross-disciplinary art and transformative experiences. After all, it’s in our name: “In spirit, us.” On April 29, we had the opportunity to contribute with this spirit and initiated Bring the Noise Street Poetry Tour in collaboration with PEN Canada, and the support of Authors for Indies and the League of Canadian Poets, bringing pop up poetry readings to the general public throughout downtown Toronto in solidarity for persecuted and imprisoned writers, such as our Empty Chair PEN writers Azimjon Askarov, Raif Badawi, Dawit Isaak, and Eskinder Nega. In Canada, we have rights to freedom of expression; but, unfortunately, those are not worldwide rights for authors. Inspiritus Press was honoured to work with almost 30 highly respected local poets and Canadian cultural groups to fundraise for PEN and bring awareness for the freedom of expression in public.

Photos by Khashayar Mohammadi; Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Reference Library

Photo by Khashayar Mohammadi; Nathan Phillips Square

We were absolutely floored by the support, belief and warmth of the community not only towards us but their passion in supporting the cause. Our talented poet-advocates included Jessica Bebenek, Ronna Bloom, Julie Cameron Gray, Ayesha Chatterjee, Meena Chopra, Marc Di Saverio, Ally Fleming, Catherine Graham, Sonja Greckol, Beatriz Hausner, Joseph Ianni, Zachary Jones, Jeff Kirby, Kateri Lanthier, Justin Lauzon, Khashayar Mohammadi, Lillian Necakov, John Oughton, Daniel Kincade Renton, Lisa Richter, Lisa Young, Banoo Zan, and others.

Photos by Khashayar Mohammadi; Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Reference Library

Photos by Khashayar Mohammadi; Toronto Reference Library

At literary and cultural Toronto landmarks, such as the Royal Ontario Museum, BMW Bloor, Book City, High Park, the TTC, Another Story Bookstore, Knife Fork Book at Rick’s Cafe, Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square, powerful and heartfelt poetry was shared and proclaimed boldly and loudly. The charming and energetic emcee, Alvin Wong, and Inspiritus founder and innovator, Takatsu, led the procession of poets and onlookers with eye-catching signs in a signature PEN yellow-black colour scheme, while publicist Amanda Childs updated the city on whereabouts with live tweets. We loved spending the day from 10:30AM to 7:00PM with these authors, exchanging conversations and poetry, emboldening one another, and hiking many kilometers of Toronto sights and sounds. We were encouraged by the perseverance and courage of all involved.

We are ecstatic that we fulfilled Daniel Kincade Renton’s dream of reading in Nathan Phillips Square. High Park lit up the background with beautiful cherry blossoms and was packed with passersby-turned-audience. Zachary Jones drew crowds with his booming voice and charisma. Eaton Centre security gave us a firsthand experience of suppression and we blasted poetry outside the doors instead. Sarah Ramsey of Book City Bloor greeted us with open arms and Banoo Zan recited with us inside Another Story. Kirby’s Knife Fork Book poetry bookshop has always been family and home to a lot of the poets and the Kensington Market streets were bustling with listeners. Smiles and hesitant applause greeted us on the TTC subway, surprisingly charmed by the change of pace. John Oughton rolled up in his motorcycle and leather jacket. Our photographers and videographers climbed benches and laid on the ground in their tremendous efforts in capturing the event. There are many moments we will never forget, and we are grateful to share them with Toronto and its talented literati.

Thanks to the support of the community, we raised over $300 in busking cash donations for imprisoned and marginalized writers. In spirit we are one, and it was an honour to give back to fellow wordsmiths and the global family and share poetry and expression. Let’s continue to bring poetry to the world and fight for the freedom of expression and persecuted writers everywhere.

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