Next Poetry Reading is Wednesday December 19

It’s happened. Poets Corner has just hosted our first ever Open Mic Contest. What an exciting evening it was and what a close final result. Thanks to the Canada Council, we were able to make our inaugural Open Mic contest a little more attractive with some cash prizes as well as bragging rights at stake.

photo of poets corner open mike contest winners

Three Honourable Mentions went to Ted Lederer, Clayton Stephens, and Lilija Valis who each received $25. Second prize of $50 went to Jacquie Pearce, and first place honours went to Fran Bourassa who walked away with a cool $100 in cash. It was incredibly close in the voting and there were some stellar poems topped by even more stellar deliveries.

Our Next Poetry Reading

Yes, we are having a reading in December! We can’t think of a better way to de-stress from the Holiday Season than by listening to some fine, fine poets and poetry. We have three featured poets stepping up to the microphone on December 19! All three are out-of-towners, so let’s welcome them and show our appreciation for their efforts to get here during a busy time of the year. We have to poet stalwarts and we’re introducing someone relatively new to the reading scene. Take a look at who’s coming and read their bio’s, here.

December’s First Featured Poet 

photo of Gary GeddesGary Geddes has written and edited close to 50 books of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, criticism, translation, and anthologies and won a dozen national and international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the Lt.-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, and the Gabriela Mistral Prize, awarded simultaneously to Octavio Paz, Vaclav Havel, Ernesto Cardenal, Rafael Alberti, and Mario Benedetti. His non-fiction books include Letters from Managua, Sailing Home, Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things, Drink the Bitter Root. and Medicine Unbundled: A Journey Through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care. His most recent books of poetry are Falsework, Swimming GingerWhat Does A House Want? and The Resumption of Play. Geddes has a PhD from U of T and has taught at Concordia, Western Washington University, and University of Missouri-St. Louis and has been writer-in-residence at U. of Alberta, UBC’s Green College, Ottawa U. and the Vancouver Public Library. He lives on Thetis Island, BC with his wife, the novelist Ann Eriksson.

December’s Second Featured Poet

photo of Harold RhenischHarold Rhenisch is the author of the critique of book culture, “The Art of Haying: a Journey to Iceland,” the sufic ghazals in “Two Minds,” the spellcraft of “The Spoken World” and twenty-seven other works of fiction, essays, poetry and environmental writing. He works as a professional editor in Vernon and does reviews for the Ormsby Review. He won awards in the CBC Literary Contest in 2007 and 2017 and won the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize twice. He met John la Greca while he was Writer in Residence at Okanagan Regional Library.

December’s Third Featured Poet

photo of John La GrecaJohn La Greca.  I’m 64. I’ve been a client of government social agencies since I was 13. I cracked up when I was 17. It wasn’t until 1980 that I got hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. I’ve been off and on Welfare ever since. I studied at Okanagan College, McGill, Guelph and UBC. Everything that came after, including six months of homelessness, can be seen in the light of an oppressed individual in the social welfare and psychiatric gulag that is present in Canada. I write because the rich and the beautiful and the connected have the monopoly on communication access and distribution.  Cultural marginalization cannot kill my essence.


Because we will have three featured poets for this reading, there will be a shortened Open Mic segment for this reading, so if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. Doors open at 6:40pm. See you all at December’s Poets Corner reading on Wednesday, December 19.  We’re underway at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

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FINISHED! Poetry Open Mic Contest on Wed Nov 21

Yes, a very exciting poetry contest is coming up in November, but before giving you the low-down, let’s not forget what a fantastic reading we had this month.

Good friends Penn Kemp and Sharon Thesen delivered the goods to a packed house. Penn read from Fox Haunts, one of her two just-launched volumes and further wowed us with an audience-participation sound poem. Sharon read from her last release, The

Collage of Kemp & Thesen Reading at Poets Corner

Receiver, and the evening ended with her reading a poem inspired (very tongue-in-cheek, mind you) by leafing through People magazine that she had then sent to Penn, followed by Penn stepping up to the mic and reading her poetic response. A wonderful evening, all round.

Our Next Event

November’s reading won’t be a reading at all. Instead, it’s a contest. Our very first Open Mic contest is taking place on Wednesday, November 21. It’s simple. Read one of your finest poems and you could win the top prize of $100 cash.

Photo of microphone and stool on an empty stage.

There is a total of $225 in prizes ($50 for second and three runners-up prizes of $25 each). Your poem can be published or unpublished but you are restricted to just one. You will have a maximum of two minutes to deliver your potential prizewinning poem.

And who decides on the winners? The audience does. Everyone in attendance will be given a ballot to vote on each contestant. Those with the most votes win. It’s simple; it’s fair, and it’s going to be a whole heap of fun.

There won’t be any featured poets for November’s reading, just you with with what you consider to be your best effort to win our inaugural Open Mic Contest. Doors open at 6:40pm. To get through the evening in our allotted time, we will have to cut off participants at some point. The sooner you get there, the better your chances of getting into the lineup. See you all at November’s Poets Corner reading on Wednesday, November 21.  We’re underway at 7:00 p.m. sharp (and don’t forget your poem)!

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FINISHED! Poetry Reading on Wednesday October 17

Before telling you about next month’s poetry reading, a little more about this month’s event that took place on Wednesday, September 19 at our wonderful host venue, Massy Books.

Photo of Featured Poets William New and Onjana Yawnghwe

We had an exceptionally talented duo who once shared a life as teacher and student. Onjana Yawnghwe was a graduate student at UBC in the class of esteemed scholar, writer, and professor, William New. Poets Corner brought them together once again and they gave us a reading to remember.

Onjana read from her just-released The Small Way, a touching and at times heart-wrenching volume dealing with a life partner who is transitioning. And Bill read from his recent volume Neighbours, taking us on a journey of emotions from sombre reflection to light-hearted banter.

Our Next Poetry Reading

October’s featured poets are both out-of-towners, though one will be traveling a much further distance than the other to join us. No stranger to the West Coast poetry scene, prolific poet, playwright, performance artist, and novelist Penn Kemp will be coming in from London, ON. Joining her is Sharon Thesen from Kelowna. Together they are incendiary — in a good way. Here is a little more about each of them…

October’s First Featured Poet 

Photo of Penn Kemp

Photo credit: Molly Miksa

Penn Kemp, poet, performer and playwright, has been celebrated as a trailblazer since her first publication of poetry by Coach House Press in 1972.  A “one-woman literary industry”, she was London’s inaugural Poet Laureate and Western University’s Writer-in-Residence. The League of Canadian Poets’ 2015 Spoken Word Artist, Kemp is a keen participant in Canada’s cultural life with multimedia releases and thirty books of poetry, prose and drama to her name. New poetry books are Fox Haunts (Aeolus House) and Local Heroes (Insomniac). Find out more at Her latest collaboration is up on https:/

October’s Second Featured Poet

Photo of Sharon Thesen

Photo Credit: Silmara Emde

Sharon Thesen is a BC-based poet, editor, critic, and professor who has published nine books of poetry, most recently The Good Bacteria (2009) and Oyama Pink Shale (2011) with House of Anansi Press, and The Receiver (2017), with New Star Books.  She has also edited two editions of The New Long Poem Anthology and has been an editor of The Capilano Review and co-editor of Lake: A Journal of Arts and Environment.  A winner of the Pat Lowther Award, she has also been a three-time finalist for the Governor-General’s Award and twice a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award.  Sharon currently writes journalistic essays on poetry and poetics and teaches poetry workshops in Lake Country, where she lives in the north Okanagan.


There will be an Open Mic segment for this reading, so if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. Doors open at 6:40pm. See you all at October’s Poets Corner reading on Wednesday, October 17.  We’re underway at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

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FINISHED! Poetry Reading on Wed Sep 19 at 7:00 p.m. (note new time)

Fall is on its way, or so it seems. And up until now we’ve handled it all: searing heat, threatening wildfires and smoke-filled skies. Surely we can handle some sizzling poetry too.

This Month’s Poetry Reading

Our readers this month are contrasts in age and experience, but the one thing they have in common is that both are incredibly talented poets. Onjana Yawnghwe and William H. New share another connection, but you’ll have to come to their reading this month to find out what the other mysterious connection is. Here’s a short bio on each of them…

September’s First Featured Poet

photo of onjana yawnghweOnjana Yawnghwe is Shan-Canadian and was born in Thailand but grew up in B.C. She is the author of the poetry books Fragments, Desire (Oolichan, 2017), and the forthcoming The Small Way (Caitlin Press, Fall 2018). She was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and longlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award in 2018. She has an  MA in English and currently works as a nurse in Vancouver.

September’s Second Featured Poet

W.H. (Bill) New, a native of Vancouver, is the author and editor of over 50 books, including Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, A History of Canadian Literature, and Grandchild of Empire, as well as five books for children and a dozen collections of poetry.  For his creative and critical writing, he was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. The Year I Was Grounded was named a Lion & Unicorn Honour Book (for North American children’s poetry), Underwood Log was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, and YVR won the City of Vancouver Award.  His most recent book, Neighbours, asks what it means to live near and what it means if a neighbourhood dies—

Note! New Start Time

Starting this month, our reading series kicks off at 7:00 p.m., a half-hour earlier than before. Yes, we will have the Open Mic segment for this reading, so if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. Doors open at 6:40pm. See you all at this month’s Poets Corner reading on Wednesday, September 19.  We’re underway at 7:00 p.m. sharp.


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FINISHED! Next Poetry Reading is Wednesday September 19

Before sharing about this month’s fabulous reading, this is a reminder we are taking a summer break, so there will not be a reading in August.

Photo of Heather Spears who read at Poets Corner in July, 2018

Simply put, July’s reading was mesmerizing. One poet held us captive for the entire time we were together. After a lengthy absence from Vancouver (after all, she lives in Denmark!), Heather Spears charmed, joked and left us reeling with emotional upheaval. This is someone who will always have a reserved spot at the mic every time she’s in town.

There Won’t Be a Poetry Reading in August

With our recent hot weather, it’s the perfect reminder that some of us may be lying in a hammock somewhere, slowly sipping a refreshing Moscow Mule, instead of our usual monthly gathering at Massy Books.  Please don’t show up on the third Wednesday of August as Poets Corner won’t be there.

We will reconvene on the third Wednesday of September — that’s Wednesday September 19 at 7:30pm.

We’re holding back for now on who will be reading in September. But hone a good poem or two of your own, as there will be an Open Mic segment at this reading.

Enjoy the summer!

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FINISHED! Poetry Reading on Wednesday July 18 at 7:30 p.m.

June’s reading brought us two very different yet very powerful readings. Daniela Elza (accompanied by her bassist friend, Clyde Reed) and Jami Macarty served up a compelling evening of crisp, well-wrought poems.

Photo of poets Daniela Elza and Jami Macarty

This is the first time in a long time that we have had a musical accompaniment to a poetry reading. The verdict? It was the perfect dance of words and strings.

This Month’s Poetry Reading

Between them, our next two featured poets have published over 30(!) volumes of poetry. Both are out-of-towners (though one’s coming a considerably longer distance than the other). Heather Spears, a Canadian poet who has been living in Denmark since 1962 and Stephen Scobie, a Scottish-born poet who now lives in Victoria, are coming to town to share a drop or two of their massive poetic output. They belong to each other’s mutual admiration society and you’re in for an evening of rich, well-crafted writing. Here’s a short bio on each of them…

July’s First Featured Poet

Stephen Scobie was born in Scotland, but has lived in Canada since 1965, and most recently in Victoria since 1981. He is now happily retired after teaching stints at the University of Alberta in Edmonton as well as at the University of Victoria.  He has published over 20 volumes of poetry, including McAlmon’s Chinese Opera (Quadrant Editions, 1980) which won the Governor-General’s Award that year.  He has also had critical studies published of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, bpNichol, and the Scottish poet and artist, Ian Hamilton Finlay. In 1995, Stephen was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

July’s Second Featured Poet

Photo of poet, Heather SpearsHeather Spears, Vancouver-born writer and artist, has lived in Denmark since 1962. Among her published work are 14 collections of poetry, five novels, four books of drawings, and a non-fiction work. She has been the recipient of several literary awards not the least of which are a Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, three Pat Lowther Memorial Awards, and a CBC Literary Prize.  A book of translations of her poems into Danish is forthcoming this year. As an artist she teaches drawing and writes about drawing and the brain (The Creative Eye: Drawing, Vision and the Brain (2012). Heather specializes in drawing premature infants and has drawn in theatres, concert halls, courtrooms, hospitals, and war zones. She has held close to 100 solo exhibitions of her work in Europe and America.

Yes, we will have the Open Mic segment for this reading, so if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. Doors open at 7:10pm. See you all at this month’s Poets Corner reading on Wednesday, July 18.  We’re underway at 7:30 p.m.

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FINISHED!! Poetry Reading on Wednesday June 20 at 7:30 p.m.

What a blockbuster evening we had last month. With just over 50 in attendance, we had our biggest crowd yet at Massy Books, our fabulous new ‘home’. It was a special celebration for a special duo. Richard Olafson and Carol Ann Sokoloff were honoured as Ekstasis Editions turned 35 years old.

Photo of Richard Olafson and Carol Sokoloff receiving a framed tribute from some of the writers they have published over the years.

Ekstasis Editions’ Carol Ann Sokoloff and Richard Olafson were presented with a commemorative poster signed by all the Ekstasis writers who came to honour them. Doing the presenting are Franci Louann (left) and James Felton (right) of Poets Corner.

Tributes poured in from many who attended (including those who couldn’t make it) and short readings were offered up from even more. It proved to be a memorable evening and a deserving tribute.

This Month’s Poetry Reading

This month we are back to our regular format of two featured poets along with an Open Mic segment. Mark your calendars now, before you forget: it’s on Wednesday June 20, again at 7:30pm.

June’s First Featured Poet

Photograph of poet, Daniela ElzaDaniela Elza has lived on three continents and crossed numerous geographic, cultural and semantic borders. Her poetry collections are the weight of dew, the book of It, and milk tooth bane bone, of which David Abram says: “Out of the ache of the present moment, Daniela Elza has crafted something spare and irresistible, an open armature for wonder.” Daniela earned her doctorate in Philosophy of Education from Simon Fraser University. Her next book will be published the Spring of 2020 by Mother Tongue Publishing. She has two more manuscripts looking for homes amidst the growing housing crises and skyrocketing rents of Vancouver.

June’s Second Featured Poet

Photograph of poet, Jami Macarty

Jami Macarty is the author of Instinctive Acts, forthcoming from Nomados Literary Publishers in 2018, Mind of Spring, which won the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award (Vallum, 2017) and Landscape of The Wait (Finishing Line Press, 2017), a series of poems focusing on her nephew William’s car accident and year-long coma. She teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, edits the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings–Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Anomaly/Anomalous Press. She is the recipient of grants from Banff Center and B.C. Arts Council, among others; several times a Pushcart Prize nominee; and a finalist for the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award. Her poems have appeared in over 50 American and Canadian journals.

Remember, the Open Mic segment is back on at this reading, so if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. See you all at this month’s Poets Corner reading on Wednesday, June 20.  We’re underway at 7:30 p.m.

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FINISHED! Poetry Reading on Wednesday May 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Before telling you about May’s exceptional (and very unusual) poetry reading, let me briefly tell you about our last reading on Wednesday, April 18.

Group Photo of Featured Poets at Poets Corner

What a trio of talent! E.D. Blodgett, Terry Ann Carter, and Rhonda Ganz delivered readings that spanned the spectrum of poetic styles and subjects.  The audience topped out at 40 and the comments I received from many of you told me you were blown away.

Our Next Poetry Reading

Our standard format at Poets Corner is to have two featured poets preceded by an open mic segment. However, this month will be different. Very different. In fact, it’s so different we’re calling it a celebration.

In May we are going to celebrate and honour a B.C. publishing house that has nurtured and lauded many creative writers over its long history. Ekstasis Editions is an independent literary press that has steadfastly supported not only British Columbian but many other Canadian writers for over 35 years.

It is time to say thank you.

May’s Guests of Honour

Photo of Richard Olafson

Richard Olafson

It is time to celebrate a literary press that Richard Olafson started in 1982 and continues to run today. Owned and operated by Richard and his partner, Carol Ann Sokoloff, the two continue to support literary writers, especially those in this province.

Richard’s years at the helm of Ekstasis can be summed up as a stellar example of a creative, prolific, and dedicated career.

Photo of Carol Ann Sokoloff

Carol Ann Sokoloff

There were many boulder-sized roadblocks that seemed determined to thwart these two from reaching the 30-year mark.  But here they are today, proudly standing next to the 35-year milestone marker along the long and winding (and enduring) road.

Originally, Ekstasis published poetry almost exclusively, but it has since diversified and branched out into related forms such as literary fiction, metaphysics, theatre and, most recently, Children’s and Young Adult books under the Cherubim Books imprint.

How Will We Celebrate Ekstasis’ 35 years?

Aside from the obvious camaraderie that will be aided by all sorts of libations, a special evening of readings and tributes is planned. Invitations are being sent to every writer ever published by Ekstasis.  And that’s quite a few!

We realize not everyone is close enough to our host venue in Vancouver’s Chinatown to be there in person, but all Ekstasis writers will be invited no matter where they live. Who knows? You may want to make a point of being in town around May 16 to honour and celebrate this special indie press and the people that helped put many of you on the literary map.logo for ekstasis editions

In a perfect world, we would love each and every Ekstasis writer who is there the evening of the 16th to read a poem or a short excerpt from their published work. Obviously that’s not possible. Instead you are being asked to bring your Ekstasis publication in case your your name is drawn from the hat; those selected will then deliver a short reading.

No Open Mic at the Next Reading

Because of this special celebration to honour Ekstasis Editions, there won’t be our usual Open Mic segment on May 16th. But there will be a helluva lot of published Ekstasis writers at the mic!

Make sure you’ve signed up to receive our twice-monthly newsletter (the form’s to the right) for more details of this very special themed reading.

See you on May 16th!


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FINISHED! Poetry Reading on Wednesday April 18 at 7:30 p.m.

It’s April already and it’s STILL winter outside. What’s with that?! I think it’s best to have some fine poetry to warm up our souls. Before I share what’s happening for April’s reading, I want to let all of you who couldn’t make our inaugural reading know what a wonderful evening we had. And what a lovely venue! Massy Books went all out to make us feel welcome, especially with the cash bar!

Photo of Featured Poets and Poets Corner members at our inaugural reading

Carl Hare and Marguerite Pigeon will now go down in history as our very first readers at Poets Corner (formerly Poetic Justice). Some fine voices were also heard during the Open Mic segment, too.

Our Next Poetry Reading

Our normal format is to have two featured poets preceded by an open mic segment. This month, however, we’re having three talented poets. We’ll still have open mic, but it will be shorter than normal. Mark the date before you forget: Wed Apr 18 at 7:30pm. Here’s a little more about our April featured poets.

April’s First Featured Poet

E.D. Blodgett, poetE.D. Blodgett is a literary historian, translator, and poet. He has published 28 books of poetry, of which 2 were awarded the Governor General’s Award. His most recent book is Songs for Dead Children (University of Alberta Press). Translations of his poetry have appeared in French, Serbian, and Hebrew, among other languages. He was Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta, a former Writer-in-Residence at Grant MacEwan University (2004), and past poet laureate of Edmonton (2007-09). He is currently involved in writing a bilingual renga with a Francophone poet from Winnipeg.

April’s Second Featured Poet

Photo of Terry Ann Carter, poetTerry Ann Carter is the author of On the Road to Naropa: My Love Affair with Jack Kerouac (Inkling Press) and TOKAIDO (Red Moon Press). She is also co-editor (with George Swede) of Erotic Haiku: Of Skin on Skin, (Black Moss Press), president of Haiku Canada, and founder of Haiku Arbutus in Victoria. As a “community fellow” at the University of Victoria (2017), Terry Ann had an opportunity to examine the Buddhist influence on classical Japanese haiku.

April’s Third Featured Poet

Photo of Rhonda Ganz, poetRhonda Ganz is a Victoria poet who used to call Vancouver home. Her debut collection, Frequent, small loads of laundry (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017) was just shortlisted for the 2018 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. A devotee of crime fiction and Judge Judy, she mines nightmare and reality TV for material. Her work has appeared the The Malahat Review, Rattle, Room, Harvard Design Magazine and in the anthologies Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry (Mother Tongue Publishing), Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press), Poet to Poet (Guernica Editions) and Force Field:  77 Women Poets of BC (Mother Tongue Publishing).


Yes, we will have our Open Mic segment at this reading, but because we have three featured poets we will have to shorten Open Mic.  So if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. See as many of you as possible at Poets Corner on Wednesday, March 21.  We’re underway at 7:30 p.m.

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FINISHED! Poetry Reading on Wednesday March 21 at 7:30 p.m.

If you are not on our newsletter subscribers’ list, you missed an important update on what’s been happening with our poetry reading series. Poetic Justice has morphed into Poets Corner and LOTS has happened.  If you’re not already on our mailing list, subscribe to the newsletter through the box on the right, and we’ll send you the most recent issue.

Before we share more about this month’s featured poets, a quick word about the hugely successful themed reading that took place last October.  That 70s Show featured five very talented poets who all turned 70 in 2017. Each was asked to read one poem from each of their five decades of writing. Wow, what a spectrum of work! Sixty-five poetry fans got to enjoy the depth and breadth of a combined 250 years of writing.

Five B.C. poets who turned 70 in 2017.

That 70s Show: Five Poets Turning 70 in 2017. Left-Right: Hannah Main-van der Kamp, Heidi Greco, Susan McCaslin, Kate Braid, and Tom Konyves. (October 22, 2017)

Our Next Poetry Reading

Now that we’re back on track, the very first reading under our new name and equally new host venue is only days away. And we’re delighted to have two very interesting and talented writers joining us. Here’s a little more about each of them.

March’s First Featured Poet

Photo of Carl Hare, author of the trilogy, On the River of Time.

Carl Hare

In his long career, Carl Hare  has been a professor, actor, director, playwright, and poet.  Apart from Odysseus, the first in his trilogy, published in 2017, his most recent work includes performances of his play, The Eagle and the Tiger and his adaptation of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, the setting of six of his children’s poems to music by Canadian composer Malcolm Forsyth; a commissioned poem for Forsyth’s A Ballad of Canada, performed by the National Arts Centre orchestra; and A Weathering of Years, a collection of poetry published in 2015.  Spenser, Book Two of On the River of Time, is now being launched and copies will be available at the reading.

March’s Second Featured Poet

Photograph of poet, Marguerite Pigeon.

Marguerite Pigeon

Marguerite Pigeon is the author of three books. Her first poetry collection, Inventory, was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her short story collection, Some Extremely Boring Drives, was nominated for a ReLit Award. Marguerite is currently at work completing a book-length poem about fashion, called The Endless Garment: A pocket epic, from which she has recently published three chapbooks. These include My Model Poem, from Nomados Press, and What I’m Wearing Now, from the Alfred Gustav Press. Originally from Blind River, Ontario, Marguerite currently lives in Vancouver.



Oh, there will be an Open Mic segment at this reading, so if you want a chance to deliver one of your best poems, get there early. And thank you for bearing with us through this big change-over!  See you all at the Poets Corner inaugural reading on Wednesday, March 21.  We’re underway at 7:30 p.m.

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