DIY Poetry Brothel

or, How I Became a Poetry Pimp (and You Can Too!)

The Toronto Fringe Festival is the city’s great theatrical equalizer, meting out stage space by lottery to established performers and companies as well as to those new and break-seeking. This year’s festival, held in early July, saw the expansion of the Visual Fringe, an outdoor gallery space originally launched to host visual artists, providing tents in which to hawk their wares.

A few weeks before the festival, I fell in with a bad crowd: WORKhouse Theatre, a company who’d lost the stage lottery but devised a plan to pack a Visual Fringe tent to its PVC rafters with performers, visual artists, and writers. The tent, dubbed Fort Awesome, would be a site of collaboration across the arts and of playful interaction between artists and visitors. It would be your childhood clubhouse among so many market stalls. And the WORKhouse producers were open to event suggestions.

I stumbled on the Poetry Society of New York’s Poetry Brothel the way you might stumble over a small end table as it waits on the sidewalk for garbage collection and—you being six pints deep and the night demanding minor larceny—drag it home only for the morning to complain that you’ve nowhere to put it. Well screw you, morning, I found somewhere to put it. Giving full credit for the idea to the PSNY, I suggested hosting our own poetry brothel, I offered to issue a call and edit submissions, and (although I forget exactly when this happened, I like to think it did almost immediately) I earned the name Madame Andy.

Four Steps to a Brothel You

I initially conceived this post as a reflection on our brothel, an opportunity not only to record the event (and so resist its transience as performance) but also to theorize the correlations among sex work, performance, and poetry that it might foreground. While I will offer some reflection, I believe there’s more value in simply relating a process that worked for us and encouraging other small art collectives or collaborators to adapt it for their own purposes.

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Bare Hands Print Anthology – call for submissions and patrons

Bare Hands is the quite stunning e-journal of poetry and photography that was kind enough to publish “Telemachy” in their first issue as well as on Soundcloud. Having already published nine widely read issues in less than a year, which requires an uncommon amount of effort and dedication, the editors are well deserving of a birthday present this October.

Instead, they’re giving a present to everyone else: the Bare Hands Print Anthology. The full details are here, but their submission guidelines are simple:

Our deadline is September 1st 2012—that gives you loads of time. We will be publishing 15 photographs and 25 poems altogether. It’ll be amazing! All contributors will receive two copies of the print journal.

To submit simply send maximum three poems or photographs (you are welcome to send both) to with ‘Anthology Submission’ in the subject field. Please send the poems within the body of the email and attach the photographs as jpegs. We can’t wait to see your work!

I’ve seen journals in rapid ascent before. Bare Hands is a train you want to board as soon as possible because it’s going to start moving bloody fast. For readers and viewers, this is your opportunity to become official patrons of Bare Hands, as they’re seeking pre-purchases to help finance the project (via The minimum donation magically results in a copy of the anthology being mailed to you. Karmic compensation for extra generosity ranges from a Bare Hands mini-book to signed copies of the editors’ own poetry collections (Out of the Blueness by Kerrie O’ Brien and Follies by Sarah Griffin).