Behind the Yellow Door


[Please note that this piece was originally published in Poetry Quebec. – ed]


3625 Aylmer Street, Montreal


It is Thursday evening at The Yellow Door and you are hearing poets and prose writers reading from their work. They stand just a few feet away from you. It is as though you are in someone’s basement.

As founder, producer and host, I have been running The Yellow Door Poetry and Prose Reading Series since January 1999. I remember that our first reading was standing room only, and it has been great ever since. I enjoy networking and community-building with poets. I also host The Visual Arts Centre Reading Series at the McClure Gallery and co-host Lovers and Others, which will be held this year at Café Sarajevo.

The Yellow Door is home to folk stars, spoken word artists, and poets. Simplicity and hard work keep audiences coming back. Over the years, the coffee house has hosted the likes of Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright.

A typical Yellow Door season runs from August to May and consists of roughly 12 shows. The series receives financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts and The League of Canadian Poets. Twenty-five to 35 people attend our shows. A couple of times a year, we have a full house of about 50. Part performance, part acoustic experience, The Yellow Door always delivers the poetry. The authors’ enthusiasm for their work is matched by the appreciative audience.

The series has featured talented Montreal poets and prose writers including Governor General award winner Hugh Hazelton, Michael Mirolla, Catherine Kidd, Paul Serralheiro, Stephen Morrissey, Carolyn Zonailo, Endre Farkas, Carolyn Marie Souaid, and others. We have had musicians, as well as writers from out of town.

Sometimes publishers from Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver contact me to book one of their writers. Spoken word artist, Ian Ferrier, who has performed at numerous shows believes that The Yellow Door has been kind to the literary scene.

Poet Carolyn Zonailo, who has read at The Yellow Door many times over the past ten years observed that it has a “collective sort of soul feeling.”


Ilona Martonfi  Tel: 514-939-4173