Ted Plantos People’s Poet
It was the summer of 1970, when I first arrived in Toronto and met Ted Plantos at the Parliament Street Library. This warm, friendly bear of a man encouraged me to move from my epigrammatic writings into longer poetic pieces and guided me onto the poetry highway. He was my mentor and inspired me to become involved in The House Poets, a group of fellow scribblers working out of the Parliament Street Library. While necessity compelled me to return to fulltime employment in the 9 to 5 world, Ted continued labouring away at his Art and produced The Seasons are My Sacraments, Daybreak’s Long Waking, Mosquito Nirvana, Dogs Know About Parades, The Universe Ends at Sherbourne & Queen, This Tavern has No Symmetry, Passchendaele, The Shanghai Noodle Killing: Stories, East Meets West — Audio readings with Steven Michael Berzensky, Heather Hits Her First Home Run: children’s book, as well as his many published works in anthologies (e.g. The House Poets, Poems for Sale in the Streets, and Not to Rest in Silence) and other collected works.
As if this body of work was not sufficient, Ted founded and helped run Old Nun Publications, People’s Poetry Workshops for the Toronto Library on Gerrard Street, Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award in 1987, the Cross-Canada Writers’ Workshop and Writers Quarterly, People’s Poetry Letter, and the promotion of poetry through the Ten Best List of Poetry Books appearing on his Literary Network Website, and helped found the Canadian Poetry Association.
However, beyond such notable achievements, Ted will be remembered for his generosity in sharing his enthusiasm and time with young and emerging poets, constant encouragement of the poetic spirit in others and enduring commitment to Canadian Poetry and its evolution. Without Ted’s guiding hand, I doubt that I and many other poets would be as involved in people’s poetry. Ted will always be remembered with great fondness by so many of us in the poetry community and his spirit is missed by all who knew him. While his poetic contributions are all significant, one of my favourite Ted poems stands as a vivid reminder of those seminal times spent with the “Cabbagetown Kid.” In my opinion, “Visiting Roselynn Crystalle” is one of the greatest performance poems ever written.
Bio of Kent Bowman – In 1970, Ted Plantos encouraged me to write poetry (i.e. Purple Cowboy, Glasseaters’ Banquet and section in The House Poets). In 2007, my essay on “The Creative Process (Songwriting, Composing, Writing Poetry)” was accepted by Imagination in Action. In 2008, I contributed “Plate Spinning in America” to Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era. In 2009, And Left a Place to Stand On accepted “Zen River Memories.” In 2010, my collection, On the Other Side of Paradise, was published. Recent poems appeared in Arborealis and Decabration.