Alberta Beatnik strips down for ATP

By James Keller

One addition to the PlayRites festival this year doesn’t even feature plays at all. Instead, POETaster provides an outlet for poets to share their writing, and for audiences to be exposed to something beyond the reaches of typical theatre.

Edmonton-based poet Mark Kozub, dubbed the “Alberta Beatnik,” will share his special brand of performance poetry with audiences in the Martha Cohen Lobby. Typically backed by music of every genre, from jazz to folk to music that “meets the absolute vibe of Velvet Underground,” Kozub will be performing here in the nude–that is, without the drapery of his usually musical accompaniment.

“I find it really cool and challenging to go up without the music behind me. It gives me that extra edge that I need to get more nervous about performing.”

While Kozub is quick to offer how the performance will differ from the norm–at least his norm–he also provides a very definite picture of what to expect: a side of poetry people may not be expecting.

“I’ll be pealing off my own skin and eating it,” he laughs, before offering a more serious description. “I would say that it is goody, immature, not elitist, but hopefully still emotionally moving and even harrowing.”

His subject matter will touch both ends of the spectrum. The difference in tone between goofy poems like “Are Farts Warm?” and more serious-sounding explorations of religion like “Divine Right” show that Kozub always strays from the confines of traditional poetry.

“I think people fear that it will be elitist. One of the biggest challenges is that when you say ‘poetry reading’ to people, they go ‘oh, I’m going to be bored,’” explains Kozub. “That’s one thing poetry people always want to wage war against.”

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