Poetry Jazz Cafe is not a cafe, nor is it a poetry club. There's no appreciative snapping, subtle allegories, or hushed, whispered words between friends. Rather, Poetry Jazz Cafe a lively new Kensington bar, swathed in bits of vintage decor and set to the soundtrack of phenomenal live jazz.
"There's this movie called 'The Commitments'" owner Sean Pascalle tells me as we escape to Poetry's cozy back patio. "And it's about these kids who are looking to create a soul band." Sean continues to describe the plot, which concludes with a final performance by the group where Wilson Pickett is supposed to attend. But he doesn't arrive. "So this character," Sean continues, "Jimmy the Lips, he says something like, 'If this guy had shown up, it would have been predictable. This way, it's poetry."
That's where Sean got the name for his jazz bar. "I've put everything I have into this. And things are going to go wrong. I've put in more money than I thought I would, and things haven't worked out exactly as I planned. But at least it's poetic."
Sean has never been a bar owner before, but he's always loved jazz. "Billie Holliday, Ella--all the classics," he says. But Sean has a special affinity for Miles Davis, whose pictures you can find around the bar. He hands me a Bitches Brew ($9.50)--the bar's signature drink--which is a tribute to his fandom, named for Miles Davis' studio double album released in 1970. And the big graffiti hand painted outside the front door? That's Miles too.
There may be some poetry in the future, Sean concedes, but right now, he's focused on the jazz musicians. And he's out to find a certain breed in particular.
"I want this to be a sanctuary for the young, emerging jazz musicians," Sean tells me. "They've gone to school, they have that discipline, but now they want to experiment."
"Miles Davis did that same thing," he continues. "He was accepted to Julliard, but then he met other musicians outside of the school and started to break the rules."
New talent is great, and so is the bar's retro and cool sort of atmosphere, but the back patio is the main winner for me without a doubt. It's inexplicably secluded despite being right in the middle of Kensington, and perfect during the day for a book and sangria, says an already-regular I meet by the small fountain in the back. Poetry also has a wine list of "nothing you'll find at the LCBO," Sean tells me, mixed drinks starting at ($6.50) and bottles of beer. All to be enjoyed while listening to fresh talent, and if they make a mistake or two--ah, it's poetry.
- Beers on Tap:
- Just bottles
- Signature Drink:
- Bitches Brew (premium vodka, tequila, lime, angostura bitters)
- Bar Snacks:
- Finger foods
- Live Music:
- Who Goes There:
- Currently being discovered by locals
- Tuesday to Sunday, around 12:30 p.m. to close