When Dave Morris tells women he’s a poet, he usually gets a positive response. But if he’s talking to a guy, he might focus instead on the improv element of his spoken-word career.
“Unless they’ve already been coming to poetry shows, (men) don’t really get it,” he said. “It’s not something you want to bring up at a hockey game.”
In our society that portrays men as big, tough and insensitive, Morris said male poets play a role in reversing the stereotypes.
On Wednesday, Morris will perform with a handful of Victoria’s top male poets in a new event called the Gentlemen’s Poetry Show.
In what’s being billed as a black tie event, the poets will be decked out in their best suits. The audience is also encouraged to dress in suits or ball gowns.
The event was the brainchild of Missie Peters, producer of Not Your Grandma’s Poetry, who wanted to create an environment for poetry that’s similar to a jazz lounge.
“People think of poetry, especially slam poetry, as this straight, urban, rough and tumble kind of performance,” Peters said. “But it also has a very literary, sophisticated side that I hope this event will bring out.”
Peters said the poets haven’t been given a theme to follow, but she expects there will be a lot of talk of gender on stage because of the format.
“I got my start (as a poet) at a women’s-only open mic,” Peters recalled. “I think there’s space for men-only shows. Men want to talk about their experience being men.”
Morris, for his set, will be performing four poems about the transition from boyhood to manhood and how it can be difficult to know what stage you’re at.
“There are 30-year-old men who still live with their mothers,” Morris remarked. “It’s a failure to launch scenario, and it’s something a lot of men face.”
The poets will be accompanied by the folk melodies of Oliver Swain and the River Dogs will play between between sets.
And there will be one woman on stage: burlesque star Miss Rosie Bitts will introduce the performers. Several other burlesque dancers will roam the audience selling candy cigarets that will double as raffle tickets to win a grooming kit from Victory Barber.
The event is a fundraiser for the Victoria Spoken Word Festival taking place next month.
The Gentlemen’s Poetry Show is Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m., at the Victoria Events Centre, 1415 Broad St.
Tickets are $18 at the door and sold in advance at Victory Barber.