Saturday, November 28, 2009

We Nearly Changed Our Name To Hooter...

We're now on Twitter!

Check us out here for ocasional updates!

Like Karaoke?

And who doesn't?

I mean, where else can you (re)live those rock 'n' roll dreams, meet up with old friends and make new ones, and have so much fun?

So check out our friends Dog & Pony Sound as they put on their shoes -- I mean shows -- around town.

Best in Ottawa? You bet!

Best in Canada? Very, very likely.

Meet a Cool Lady and Her Bike Named Mike

Here is our pal Kate's blog about the cycling life here in Ottawa and beyond:

Poetry Goggles: Origins? (Part 2)

Steve is known to enjoy Tom Waits's music. To the point of having a Tom Waits impression shtick he plays out at local karaoke shows.

Coincidence? Hmmm...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Your Cultural Farmer's Market

Writers! Musicians! Poets! Artists! Crafters!


Bring your books, CDs, comix, chapbooks, knitted and sewn wares, posters, whatever to sell at the next Dusty Owl reading!

Check out for upcoming dates, and bring your goods to the next reading -- we'll gladly let you use one of the tables so you can do business during the breaks!

For more info email Steve Zytveld at

Poetry Goggles: Origins?

Steve is known to be a bit of a phan of Phish. Drummer Jonathan Fishman has been known to wear goggles during concerts.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

The Dusty Owl's Home Nest: Swizzles Bar & Grill

We've been hosting the Dusty Owl at Swizzles Bar & Grill for nearly six years. In this interview with Amanda Earl in the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter, Steve gives a quick rundown of how we got started there:

"Cathy and I found out in early 2004 that our longtime friend Tanja Pecnic had taken over ownership of Swizzles Bar & Grill sometime before Christmas 2003 – I don’t know exactly when, and I don’t like pressing the issue on these sorts of matters, as it is literally her business. Although I had been meaning to for some time by then, we didn’t drop by Swizzles to see her until late that February. You see, I had been stopping in from time to time at the Glue Pot Pub – a couple blocks west along Queen Street – since 1990 or so, and Cathy and I had become regulars there when we moved into the neighbourhood in 1996. Tanja began working the bar at The Pot sometime in the summer of 1997, a couple months before Cathy and I got married. So Tanja has a bit of a history with us… she’s kinda like family we never want to lose touch with.

"For a number of reasons – especially the fact that Cathy and I were taking part-time courses at Carleton University at the time – we hadn’t seen Tanja in a while, so this was a reunion of sorts. After a lot of interested small-talk – more than the just the usual hi-how-are-you-today kinda stuff – Dusty Owl came up, though I’m not sure exactly how. But after a good twenty or so minutes of discussion, Tanja suggested that Swizzles would make a good home for a revived Dusty Owl Reading Series.

"At this time, Cathy, Kate, Nick, and some other friends of ours were meeting as an informal sort of writers group over breakfast at the erstwhile El Morocco diner near the corner of Bank and Lisgar streets in downtown Ottawa. I ran the idea of a revived Dusty Owl at the proposed venue by our ad-hoc group, and everyone enthusiastically agreed.

"And so, on 26 March 2004, at 5pm on a mostly sunny afternoon (though we wouldn’t’ve known it as we were in a basement bar) the Dusty Owl Reading Series took flight again for the first time in five or so years with a good twenty-five or so people in attendance. It was, by the way, entirely open-mic, open to everyone who wanted to stand and be heard."

Swizzles Bar & Grill can be found in the heart of lovely downtown Ottawa, at 246B Queen Street (on the south side of the street, halfway between Bank and Kent). Look for the stairs on the west side of the building, under the green awning.

There's awlways something happening at Swizzles! Check out their website at

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poetry Goggles

... Because words are dangerous!

Here is a photo of Steve and his mum, taken by his sister Karen. He's wearing his poetry goggles.

The poetry goggles have become something of a regular feature of the Dusty Owl Reading Series, as well as other events Steve drops in on around town.

How did poetry goggles happen? Steve tells this story: "In the spring of 2004, a few weeks after we started holding the Dusty Owl readings at Swizzles, Cathy was getting some stuff together for a garage sale. I came in from somewhere and saw the box of stuff sitting by the door in our apartment. Almost without thinking, I reached into the box and pulled out this pair of swimming goggles Cathy had used in university, and said, 'Hey, you can't give these away -- they're my poetry goggles!' She naturally said no, that I had to put them back into the box, but I hid them away until we held our next reading. I've lost and found them from time to time, but I still have them. I like the idea. I take poetry and writing very seriously, but I think people tend to forget that a poetry reading should be a little fun, too -- you know, the whole 'intellectual hooliganism' and 'serious whimsy' thing. That's what poetry goggles are all about to me."

The Dusty Owl Workshop Series Presents Bare Bones of Mystery Writing with Barbara Fradkin

Sunday 29 November 2009
1pm to 4pm
Sushi 88
690 Somerset Street West

This informal, interactive workshop will examine the enduring power of the mystery novel, in all its guises. There are four magical ingredients of writing crime fiction that thrills, provokes and inspires the reader — good writing, vivid characters, exciting plot and perfect setting. Examples and exercises for each will be discussed, as well as tips on how to create engaging sleuths and credible villains, how to develop tension, conflict and pacing, and how to interweave subplots, plant clues and sprinkle red herrings. Questions about markets and publishers will also be addressed.

Barbara Fradkin is the author of the award-winning detective series featuring the quixotic, exasperating Ottawa Police Inspector Michael Green, whose passion for justice and love of the hunt often interfere with family, friends and police protocol. There are currently seven novels in the series, including the newly released This Thing of Darkness, as well as Honour Among Men and Fifth Son, both of which won Arthur Ellis Best Novel Awards from Crime Writers of Canada. She has also been nominated four times for the Arthur Ellis Award for her dark, compelling short stores, which haunt numerous magazines and anthologies such as the Ladies Killing Circle series.

$15 tickets available at Sushi 88!

For more information:

Stay tuned for the next series of Dusty Owl workshops in the spring!

Notes, Postcards, Get Well Cards, Poems, Letter Mail to Amanda Earl

As you probably know by now, our longtime friend Amanda Earl was hospitalized a couple weeks ago due to serious illness. She is now on the mend but is still yet to be released.

Amanda loves mail, real mail, so let's get out our pens and send a note, card, or postcard even. Her address is:
1911-440 Gloucester St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1R 7T8.

I'm sitting down this weekend to write her a quick something passing on our love and best wishes.

(Thanks to Pearl Pirie for passing this on to me from Amanda's husband Charles.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From Good Idea To Good Read – The Art of Poetic Documentary

If you can't make it to our Bywords launch Sunday afternoon, join local writer Phil Jenkins for a hands-on workshop on creative non-fiction. He will explain, in particular and in general, how he has taken good ideas through to newspaper, magazine, and book length pieces of poetic documentary. There will be hand-outs and Socratic discussion. Please bring a few good ideas of your own.

Also, listen to Phil Jenkins on the CBC's In Town and Out this Saturday!

Tickets $15
Available at Sushi 88, 690 Somerset St W
by contacting Sean Zio at

The Dusty Owl Play Date Will Soon Be Two Years Old...

...and you're invited!

Next month, the Dusty Owl Play Date will be celebrating its second anniversary. To commemorate this momentous occasion, we will publish an anthology of pieces written by participants of the Play Date.

If you have attended a Play Date and you still have copies of what you wrote, choose your favourite piece and send it, along with its writing prompt if you have it written down, to Kathryn Hunt at

The deadline for submissions is Friday 27 November 2009.

We will be having a Celebration Play Date on Tuesday, December 8, 2009.

Watch for more details!

The Dusty Owl Reading Series Helps Launch the Fall 2009 Issue of the Bywords Quarterly Journal

...with Special Guest Host BQJ Editor Amanda Earl!

Sunday 8 November at 2pm at Swizzles Bar & Grill!

The Fall Edition of the Bywords Quarterly Journal is on the way! Featuring the best of Ottawa's poetic voices, publishes each month online and a journal four times a year.

Join us to celebrate the launch of the Fall BQJ, with Sylvia Adams, Jamie Bradley, Stephen Rowntree, and Margaret Malioch Zielinski. Music will be provided by Jesse Cook. Amanda Earl will guest host: for more information visit

As usual, we'll be following up the readings with our open mike, and the newly revived Object of Desire contest.

We're at the corner of Queen and Kent, down the stairs beside the Thai restaurant! See you there!

Catching Up...

You're probably wondering where I've been lately.

So much has been going on, what with all the readings going on around town, to say nothing about the Ottawa International Writers Festival (which I did stop in on, but not as much as last time).

Well, I was down with that 'flu bug everyone's been talking about. So, I'm going to be posting all kinds of new stuff over the next while to make up for a slow October...