Safe space allows up-and-coming artists a chance to share their work
The cozy, narrow basement of Kafein, a café-bar located at 1429 Bishop Street, was jam-packed as spectators gleefully anticipated performances of several student poets from Concordia University.
Video footage of David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust years was projected onto a black overhead screen and played on loop throughout the evening as a way to commemorate the late avant-garde rock star. Contemporary-style photographs hung from thin metal wires in front of a rustic stone wall lined with candles, which enhanced the café-bar’s homey vibe.
Nine performers read their poems in front of a massive crowd on Jan. 12 at Poetry Night, a bi-weekly event geared toward creating a safe space for creative minds to disseminate their poetry. The creativity and humour that each of them displayed were enough to keep the listeners engaged and entertained for over two hours. The readers presented unique approaches to timely and compelling topics such as existentialism, veganism, gender and social stereotypes, love and more.
“We have so many people who are first-time performers and have only written poetry in the security of their bedrooms, so we bring this very comfortable vibe,” said Ariana Molly, the host of Poetry Night.
Molly, who is also the social media manager, events coordinator and art show coordinator at Kafein, kept the evening going with her energetic nature and support for the performers.
“I feel so blessed to be able to offer a space where I can confidently say that everyone is going to be quiet and respectful. We don’t tolerate transphobia, sexism, ageism, ableism, none of that,” said Molly.
Since she started Poetry Night two and a half years ago, Molly has given hundreds of people a chance to share their poetic talent with the public. The event has attained an international reach that has gone above and beyond what Molly’s expectations were when she first started out.
“We’ve had [performers] from all over the world, people from New York, Australia, friends of friends, elderly people,” she said.
Molly has always had an affinity for writing as she attended an arts high school. Although currently being enrolled in the photography program at Concordia has put her love for writing on hold, she firmly believes that Poetry Night has helped her reconnect with that passion. Her career at Kafein began when she answered to a job posting on Craigslist, and after getting hired as an event host she immediately began to organize Poetry Night.
In addition to the many job titles she currently holds, Molly also works closely with Metatron, a local publishing house which frequently publishes poets heard at Poetry Night on its website.
Additionally, a cut of the donations collected during the night will go to all poets. “If people are paid in any capacity for their art and their labour of love, it’s so rewarding,” said Molly. “It gives a different value and dynamic to that feeling of performing and bearing it all for a group of people,” she added.
Catch the next Poetry Night at Kafein Bar (1429 Bishop St.) on Tuesday, Jan. 26.