Frank Beltrano was born in Sault Ste. Marie on June 14th 1954. His first pet was a colourful and spirited banty rooster (see photo of Frank reciting one of his early poems to Banty). Frank’s grand parents were all born in various locals in Italy and came to Canada as teens and young adults. Frank’s father worked in the steel plant in the Sault for 45 years, and on weekends often slaughtered animals for area farmers (often taking young Frank along to experience the blood baths). Frank’s dad hated retirement and died a little sad at age 73 in 1995. Frank’s mother was always a stay at home mom, adept at cooking, cleaning house, and caring for her family. Also she had a home based business of making party cakes for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, all sorts of celebrations and weddings. Frank’s earliest childhood memories involve a lot of meat, Italian pasta and cakes. Also lots of fights with his big sister Linda, but they have both left those days behind.
As for education, Frank was always in the Catholic School system, grade schools run by nuns who stressed grammar drills and oratorical competitions, high schools run by priests who encouraged sports and debating societies. As a teenager Frank attended the Esposito brothers “Hockey and Poetry School” where he mentored under such poetic greats as Bobby Orr. Frank moved to Toronto in 1973 to attend the University of St. Michael’s College, U of T. run by more priests. He graduated from St Mikes in 1982 having taken part-time courses while working to support himself in Toronto. The most enjoyable courses he took while at the university were in creative writing taught by Prof. David Knight at Victoria College. Prof. Knight invited Frank to continue meeting in a writing workshop after his classes with David were over and the Childe Thursday writing group was formed. They met for over 20 years and also started the publishing company Childe Thursday Press. Two of Frank’s short stories were published in anthologies by Childe Thursday press in the early 1980s.
In 1981 Frank married Marie-Claire Roussel and they have two daughters Victoria Ann and Julia. The late 80s and 90s saw a lot of jobs to put bread on the table but not much writing. Frank worked as a security officer and then a supervisor at the Royal Ontario Musem. He drifted into the locksmithing trade and did that for about 10 years. Those were very exciting times of long hours, adventure and reasonably good pay.
The Beltrano family have owned a number of houses and moved many times from Scarborough, now part of Toronto, to Oshawa, to Pickering, to Whitby and 8 years ago from there to Old South in London Ontario. In Toronto Frank was a member of the Childe Thursday group for about 5 years. In Whitby he joined the Durham Writers’ Circle until his move to London where he discovered the Poetry London community and has been an active participant in their events.
Frank has recited poems from as long ago as grade one. In high school he wrote for the local paper the Sault Daily Star as a teen writer. He believed at the university that he was a short story writer who would eventually write novels, but after moving to London 8 years ago he has focussed on poetry. The first poem he ever sent out to a contest, “The Days of Angry” won an honorable mention and was published in Toward the Light in the summer of 2007. Since then he has been published in a number of collections and literary journals, had his poems on the London bus system and read publicly regularly in Ontario and at writing events in the States.
He has been a workshop participant on many occasions and has organized workshops for others and taught adults creative writing at local art galleries. Frank's first book of poetry will be published soon. He and photographer Al Sugerman have teamed up to produce a poster of his award winning poem, “Like a River Might” and one of Al’s dramatic black and white photos. One thousand copies of that are being printed for sale. We may have them in time for the Sept. 4th reading. Frank is also working on a visual presentation of some of his poems from the Coffee Shop Author contest for which he took third place. He hopes to have a showing of that work in the fall of 2013.
WHERE: All of our reading events except the April one are held in the Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, covered terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. The terrace is open to the parking lot behind. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: September 4th. Music begins at 6:15, poetry at 7:00.
LIVE MUSIC: The Light Of East Ensemble, a group of up to seven internationally-inspired musicians, will open the event at 6:15. The group will also play during the intermission and at the end of the event. The Light Of East Ensemble, a London-based instrumental group, performs music from the Near and Middle East, including traditional, folk, classical Arabic, Greek Rembetika, and modern urban music of the 20th century from regions such as Armenia, Greece (Asia Minor - Smyrni, and Konstantinoupoli), Turkey, and other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria.
The Light of East Ensemble is the winner of the 2013 Jack Richardson Music Award, and the 2013 London Music Award in the category of World Music, also the winner of the 2011 Jack Richardson Music Award in the category of World Music and a London Music Award in both 2011 and 2008. The group’s music may not be what Western listeners grew up hearing, but the rhythms and melodies are instantly captivating and listeners are quickly drawn into the intensity of the music.
For many audio and video samplings
Audio tracks: From a Greek folk song
From a traditional Arabic song
THE FEATURED POET, Frank Beltrano, opens the poetry portion of the event with a reading that begins at 7:00, followed by a Q&A.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, there is about 1.5 hours of open mic, ending about 9:00 pm. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Names are selected at random, so there is no need to come especially early just to get on the list of readers.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates to London Open Mic Poetry Night receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society. Donations are our only source of income. We still haven't paid off our initial debt.