Patrick de Belen
In Between Lines

Toronto based poet, writer, educator, director, community leader, and the pioneering artist behind In Between Lines, Patrick de Belen, is living proof that with direction and community, there is no limit to what we can do.

All through school I was taught that to be a ‘master of one’ garners more success than to be a ‘jack of all trades’. Although I understand the practicality and the good intent behind the teaching, it continues to be a lesson that haunts my many varied passions. How do you find your way in this world when you are taught to suppress all but one of the very instincts that not only give you life, but give life to the community and culture around you?

Patrick de Belen, the Toronto-based poet, writer, educator, director, community leader, and pioneering artist behind In Between Lines is living proof that with direction and community, there is no limit to what we can do. In Between Lines is the unholy offspring of music, poetry, dance, cinematography, and friendship; a tribute to the power of collaboration. 

The album — one of three parts including a video series and a digital chapbook — falls somewhere between the lines of prescriptive genres (mainly R&B, jazz, folk, and rap). Produced by Michael Friedman, the tracks feature Peach Luffe on guitar and piano, and Jenna Gallagher on violin. The simple mix of instruments lends an affective softness to de Belen’s profound lyricism, setting some harsh realities against gentle tones. Dealing with some of the human experiences that are often omitted or obscured from popular media, de Belen dives headfirst into fear.

While political leaders were busy gaslighting those of us feeling the severity of the pandemic, Patrick de Belen was writing “I Get It Too”, a poetic processing of post-apocalyptic life accompanied by a survivalist dance video with local artists LJ and Akil Elijiah. Encouraging a collective vulnerability, de Belen’s words promote a healthy acceptance and adaptation to critical moments: the whole world is shut down so we can slow the fuck down.”

Patrick de Belen is refreshingly and unapologetically real, and his work reflects that. He decodes fear in “Fearwrite”, baring every insecurity, unhinging the power of the unknown. Including some behind-the-scenes dialogue, the recordings capture bits of his comedic charm as a natural MC, while also relaying the audience interaction integral to performance poetry. I could write much more about In Between Lines, but Patrick de Belen and company have already said it best; we’re strongest at the junctures of passions, and bravest when our vulnerabilities reach others.

Michael C. Duguay
The Winter of Our Discotheque