We believe that art is the ultimate way in which people free their own potential. Art—poems, spoken word, stories, novels, history, music, DJ's, MC's, paintings, photos, playwriting, movie-making, acting, dance, and all the art-forms not yet dreamed of—is the true expression of a society.
We believe that art does not exist in a vacuum. It needs a community to nurture in order for it to flourish. The performer and the audience are interchangeable and together they can perform magic.
We believe that the cross-pollination of art forms is necessary in the development of an artistic scene and its voices. For poetry is song, dance is visual, acting is play, and everyone remembers what it was to be a young child with hands full of paint spiraling across a page. The Left Bank of Paris of the 20's and the Beats in San Francisco of the 50's remain an inspiration and example of what a vibrant scene can produce. We want to take our place as a force that helps to foster the artistic scene of this city that is simultaneously both Bytown and Ottawa.
We believe that words are power. They can be used to end hunger, raise the spirits, and aid in the cause of justice. Every December we raise funds to support The Ottawa Food Bank, because no artist should be a starving artist. And every February we raise funds to support The Black Youth Conference, because the young will eventually lead us all. And, because we are fortunate enough to host a stage filled with artists of every sort, we have channeled that talent to support over a dozen different charities over the years. Art has made and will continue to make a difference.
And, most importantly, we believe that joy is a requirement for living. Art is play. And no one plays with more seriousness and passion than a child. Come and join the game, child of the universe that you are. Your sandbox is waiting.
A Dusty History
Way back, in the ancient and distant mists of time, The Dusty Owl Reading Series took wing at the late and deeply lamented Café Wim on Sussex Drive in 1996. It was the heyday of grunge music, Doc Martin's and about a dozen different reading series going on in Ottawa. Our name is a nod to the artistic history of the city in the form of a little café, named Café Le Hibou, which used to sit in the storefront beside Café Wim. Sometimes history can get a little dusty.
In 1999 The Owl took what was supposed to be a brief siesta from the monthly reading series game. Things didn't get started again until 2003 when, what started as a Saturday-morning-brunch-writers-group started talking about what fun it was to run a poetry series.
From 2004 until 2011 The Owl took flight again in Swizzles Bar and Grill on Queen Street. The coziest little bias-free basement bar you could hope to find. Stories and poems were told, friends were made, Pride Parades were marched in (because everyone loves a parade), and much singing was done with Dog & Pony Karaoke.
In 2011 The Dusty Owl Reading Series settled into its new home at the historic and legendary Elmdale House Tavern, in the heart of Hintonburg, just west of Centretown. The Elmdale, one of the few remaining original beer halls of Ottawa, has been around since 1934. Every evening at 6pm you will hear the bells of the local church ring out to tell the men to go home, eat dinner and stop drinking at the tavern for an hour or two.
2013 will see The Owl fly to Mugshots Bar, located in the historic Old Jailhouse, otherwise known as The Ottawa Youth Hostel.
We're still marching in Pride Parades, still hosting the best and the brightest of the Ottawa artistic scene, and still hosting visiting artist and musicians who come to this city in their tours across the country or the world. We end every reading with an open-set where people are invited to stand up before the mike and play.
Poetry Goggles™ are ready and on-hand. Because words are dangerous!
Admission is free. But donations are lovingly accepted. Leave a little something in The Fedora — everything is split 50-50 with the featured artist.