And yes, another blockbuster reading! Last Wednesday, February 20 we had the pleasure of hearing not one, not two, but three(!) fabulous poets.
Susan Gillis and Randall Maggs swung in from the icy east and, joined by local poet Leslie Timmins, gave one of our most eclectic and electric readings.
Our Next Poetry Reading
The reading in March brings together an old hand with someone who has just launched his first volume of poetry. George McWhirter, Vancouver’s inaugural Poet Laureate, will be coupled with relative newcomer, P.W. Bridgman. Here are the bio’s of March’s duo:
George McWhirter is transatlantically anthologized in The Penguin Book of Canadia Verse and Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century (Cork University Press). Most recent books of poetry are The Incorrection (Oolichan Books) and The Anachronicles (Ronsdale Press). His story collection, The Gift of Women, appeared from Exile Editions in 2014. He served as Vancouver’s inaugural Poet Laureate and edited A Verse Map of Vancouver with photographs by Derek Von Essen for Anvil Press. Lately, his poem “On a Globe Maple” appeared in the League of Canadian Poets’ 2018 Anthology, Heartwood; the poem “Reef” appeared in CLI-FI, Canadian Tales of Climate Change, Exile Editions, 2017.
P.W. Bridgman’s first book of poems, entitled A Lamb, was published in September 2018 by Ekstasis Editions. A selection of short stories entitled Standing at an Angle to My Age, published by Libros Libertad, preceded it in 2013. Bridgman’s writing has appeared in, among other outlets, Grain Magazine,The Moth Magazine, The Antigonish Review, The Honest Ulsterman, The Galway Review and The Glasgow Review of Books. He was a participant in the writing summer school program offered by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast in July 2018 and describes that as one of the most formative experiences of his writing life.
Our full Open Mic segment is back for this reading! Please arrive at least 15 minutes before we get underway to ensure you land a spot on the list. We will be starting at 7pm sharp on Wednesday, March 20. Looking forward to seeing you!
We usually ask our featured poets to hang back after their readings to have a short FAQ exchange with the audience. At our last reading of Emerging Indigenous Poets, we asked all five poets to answer any queries people may have had. There wasn’t one question. Instead, there was an outpouring of accolades of just how much audience members enjoyed the work of each poet.
With the second standing-room-only event in a row, Tawahum Bige, Wil George, Jules Koostachin, Larry Nicholson and Gunargie O‘Sullivan wowed the crowd with a repertoire of poems that were at times humorous, poignant, politically charged and acutely perceptive.
Our Next Poetry Reading
February’s poetry reading will bring three exceptionally gifted poets to the microphone. Two out-of-towners will join a local talent to continue the Poets Corner tradition of bringing our audiences a variety of poetry that has one common denominator: poetry where we can always tick the superb box. Here is the lineup of talents for February’s reading:
Susan Gillis is a Montreal-based poet, teacher, and editor who has also lived on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada. A member of the collective, Yoko’s Dogs, she is the author of four poetry collections and several chapbooks, including Volta (2002), which won the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry, The Rapids (2012), Whisk (with Yoko’s Dogs, 2013) and most recently, Yellow Crane (2018). Susan divides her time between Montreal and rural Ontario, near Perth, where she does most of her writing.
Photo: Ed Huberty
Randall Maggs, a writer and a wood craftsman, was born in Vancouver, but has lived for nearly 40 years on the west coast of Newfoundland. After leaving the Canadian Air Force, he earned graduate degrees in English at Dalhousie and the University of New Brunswick, and in 1977 became a member of the faculty at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, focusing mainly on Canadian Literature and Creative Writing. He also played an active part in Newfoundland’s March Hare Literary Festival in its 25-year run, acting for ten years as its Artistic Director. As well, he has always been an outdoors enthusiast, skiing and backpacking in the high country of Western Newfoundland. His last book, a collection of poetry entitled Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems, was a Globe and Mail “Top 100 Book” in 2008 and won the Winterset Award, the Pratt Poetry Prize, and the Kobzar Literary Award. In 2018, Brick Books brought out an enhanced ten-year anniversary edition of Night Work in anticipation of the release of a feature length film based on that work. Produced by Blue Ice Pictures, the film is to be releasedinthe spring of 2019.
Leslie Timmins is the author of the chapbook The Limits of Windows (The Alfred Gustav Press, 2014) and Every Shameless Ray (Inanna Publications, 2018). Shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, winning honours in magazines in Canada and the United States, and published in numerous magazines and anthologies, her poems are strongly influenced by the years she spent living in Europe and the Canadian Rockies, as well as by activism and a decades-long Vipassana (insight) meditation practice. She currently works as an editor, volunteers with the Women Refugees Advocacy Project, and is a member of the powerful powerX6 writing collective.
Because we have three featured poets for February’s reading, the Open Mic segment will be shorter than usual. We have a commitment to a few who couldn’t get on the list at the last reading, so if these individuals show up, they will get the first opportunity to present.
Wow! What a reading we had in December! You’d think six days before Christmas would mean a lean turnout. Well, we had a standing-room-only crowd who were enthralled by one of our most captivating readings to date.
With three featured poets (and an abbreviated Open Mic segment squeezed in as well), the feedback has been one of the most enthusiastic we’ve received in recent memory. Gary Geddes, Harold Rhenisch, and John La Greca delivered a myriad of styles, subjects, and emotional one-two’s like we’ve never witnessed in quite a long time.
Our Next Poetry Reading
January’s event will be a themed reading. This special event has been a long time coming but it will be worth the wait. To kick off 2019, Poets Corner is going to host our very first Emerging Indigenous Poets reading. Younger rising starts in our First Nations community are coming to take over the microphone on January 16. So here is the lineup of talents for January’s reading:
Gunargie O’Sullivan is a Kwakwaka’wakw who was born in Alert Bay, BC. However her people originate from Turnour Island and are from the Tlowitsis Nation, a proud and powerful people. She has a long history as a radio broadcaster who has developed community programming that closes awareness gaps on everything from fish farms, to Missing and Murdered Women, to tiny house warriors, to Residential Schools, to Sixties Scoop, and to the poop on politics. She is also a multimedia artist who first explored acting at sixteen before joining the Spirit Song Native Theatre in the mid-80s. After discovering her writing skills several of her poems have been anthologized in the annual series, Gatherings, published by Theytus Publishing. She later began to explore journalism and film. She has produced several short films such as UNsettling, Power of Prayer, and most recently , Demolishing Grief. Ms. O’Sullivan is also the Founder and now Acting Executive Director of the Red Jam Slam Society, which exists to initiate celebrations, events and festivals that feature Aboriginal artists and performers.
Tawahum Bige, Lutselk’e Dene and Plains Cree, Two-Spirit and Nonbinary poet, resides on unceded Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish territory colonially-known-as Vancouver. Published in Red Rising, Prairie Fire, Event, and Poetry is Dead magazines, Tawahum’s poetry stokes the sacred fire of resurgence and decolonization on occupied Turtle Island. They’ve performed on stages including Talking Stick Festival and Verses Festival of Words. In their final year toward a BA in Creative Writing at KPU, Tawahum’s poetry collection, Political & Personal, will be published in June 2019 with Metatron Press. Join them on this journey that is both emotionally personal and deeply political.
Jules Koostachin, owner of VisJuelles Productions Inc. is Cree from Attawapiskat and a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. She carries extensive experience working in Indigenous community in varying capacities such as counseling, consulting, teaching and management. Jules, also known as a storyteller and digital media maker, works to honour cultural protocols and build relationships within Indigenous community through her media arts practice. Her artistic endeavours are informed by her experience living with her Cree grandparents in northern Ontario. Her educational presentations utilize her media work to educate on Indigenous realities
Larry Nicholson is Cree from Alberta but has lived in un-ceded Coast Salish territory since 1998 when he began classes at UBC towards his Fine Arts degree (in the Creative Writing Department). He wrote his first poem in 1982 (a LOVE poem), his first song in ’88, his first short story in ’94, his first play in ’96, his first radio drama in ’97, his first newspaper article in ’99, his first grant proposal for an employer in ’99, his first novella in 2000 (passionately thrown in a fireplace in 2001) and his first TV script in 2002. Larry is relieved to finally be emerging
Brandi Bird is a Two-Spirit Saulteaux and Cree poet from Winnipeg, Manitoba, currently living and learning on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territory. She has been published in Poetry Is Dead and Pearls, and will be published in Prism early this year. You can find her on Facebook as Brandi-Ann Oiseau.
These Aboriginal writers are going to blow you away with their poetic talents. Make sure you get a seat early for this reading on Wednesday, January 16 at 7:00pm.
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.
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
Gary 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 Ginger, What 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
Harold 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
John 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.
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
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.
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)!
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.
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 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 www.pennkemp.weebly.com. Her latest collaboration is up on https:/riverrevery.ca.
October’s Second Featured Poet
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.
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
Onjana 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Heather 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.
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.
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
Daniela 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
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.