Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Sean Braune’s first book of poetry, Dendrite Balconies, appeared in 2019 from the University of Calgary Press. He also has a book of philosophy, Language Parasites: Of Phorontology, that was published in 2017. Three poetry chapbooks have been published by above/ground press: the vitamins of an alphabet (2016), The Cosmos (2018), and Face Portraits and Author Cops (2018). As well, a fiction chapbook has appeared from AngelHousePress called Story of Lilith (2017). He is currently in post-production on his first feature-length film called Nuptials.
Sharon Goodier has been reading and writing in Toronto for over 5 years. She was a founding member of the new Art Bar Reading Series, has hosted 100,000 poets for change twice and initiated the engaged poetry meetup. Her poetry is skilled and relevant and can be found in several Canadian and American poetry journals.
Robin Richardson is the author of three collections of poetry, including Sit How You Want (winner of the Trillium Book Award / named one of the best books of the year by CBC), is Editor-in-Chief at Minola Review, and Founder of CITADEL Collective. Her work has appeared in Salon, POETRY, The American Poetry Review, The Walrus, Hazlitt, Best Canadian Poetry, and Tin House. She holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College with honours, and is a MacDowell fellow.
Laura Furster is the author of The Absence of Thirteen (Mosaic Press) and works as a freelance columnist for The Hamilton Spectator. She is also a fiction writer and fine art painter. A GTA native, Laura now works in her home studio in Hamilton, Ontario.
S.K.Y. Varnam is a queer, neurodivergent, and disabled Toronto-based writer, artist, and
editor, as well as the founder of The Quilliad Press. Their work has been published in several journals, including The Quarterday Review, Litbreak, Third Wednesday, and Transition
Magazine. Much of their work focuses on neurodivergency, disability, queerness, and feminist themes.
Klara du Plessis
Winner of the 2019 Pat Lowther Memorial Award and shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, Klara du Plessis’ debut collection Ekke was released from Palimpsest Press. Her second book is forthcoming in Fall 2020. Klara is a Ph.D. English Literature student at Concordia University, a researcher for SpokenWeb, and currently expanding her curatorial practice to include experimental Deep Curation poetry reading events, an approach which places poets’ work in deliberate dialogue with each other and heightens the curator’s agency toward the poetic product.
Host: Kate Marshall Flaherty
Joshua Levy is a poet, memoirist, fiction writer, and oral storyteller. Last year's CBC writer-in-residence, Levy still appears regularly on CBC digital, radio, and television. His work has been published by the Oxford University Press and Vehicle Press, and has appeared in Canadian and international literary magazines such as Malahat Review, Maisonneuve Magazine, the Puritan, and The Rumpus. Levy has won the Carte Blanche/CNFC Creative Nonfiction Prize, Prairie Fire Nonfiction Prize, SLS Fiction Prize, and CBC/QWF Writing Competition, and been shortlisted for other literary awards, including the CBC Nonfiction Prize, Chester B. Himes Memorial Fiction Contest, Vallum Poetry Chapbook Competition, Montreal International Poetry Prize, Barry Lopez Nonfiction Prize, and River Styx Microfiction Contest. His debut full-length poetry collection, The Loudest Thing, was published in November by Mansfield Press. Levy lives in Montreal.
Steven McCabe is an interdisciplinary artist drawing inspiration from pre-history, dreams, surreal juxtapositions, and dystopian paranoia. His blog Poemimage features Canadian and international poetry accompanied by his visual art. He spent the last year writing and editing the recently published Meme-Noir, based on recalling true-life experiences he emailed to himself over eight years. He is currently working with video editor and audio engineer, Konrad Skreta on their 7th video collaboration, a 30-minute work: Ode to a Wordless Poem.
Host: John Oughton
Host: Nancy Bullis
VALENTINE'S DAY CELEBRATION
Jeff Cottrill is a Toronto-based journalist, fiction writer, and spoken-word poet who has gigged in countless literary series in Ontario, the U.K., Ireland, France, and the United States over the past fifteen years. He is currently working on his seventh or eighth attempt at a first novel.
Valentino Assenza has been a published poet and spoken word artist for over the last two decades. He was a founding member of the Toronto Poetry Project, and was a member of the Toronto Poetry Slam team in 2009 and 2010 competing in both the Canadian Festival Of Spoken Word, and the National Poetry Slam in the US. He is also a past board member of the Art Bar Poetry Series. Valentino has had numerous individual poems published in such literary journals as Labour Of Love, Mic Check, and Descant Magazine. He has also published four chapbooks, and his first full-length book of poems "Through Painted Eyes" (Piquant Press) was launched January 2019. Since January 2015 Valentino has been the co-host and co-producer of Howl, a literary radio show on CIUT 89.5FM where he has interviewed such names as Denise Donlon, Sook Yin Lee, and Margaret Atwood
Rahul Gupta is mostly-retired from the high-stakes world of performance poetry but can sometimes be convinced to leave the cave for special nights like this. By day he serves the interests of Fake News as a "lamestream" journalist with a "clear bias and agenda". You might have seen him at Toronto Poetry Slam doing stuff. Also a certified drinking coach.
Host: Cynthia Gould
Anita Lerek has been a teacher, a trade and legal book editor, a literary agent, sociologist, lawyer, and now a Web entrepreneur. She is an outsider, born in post-war Poland to Holocaust survivors. Making do and making believe have connected up her diverse worlds. Her sculptor mother taught her the lesson of bearing witness to the hand you are dealt, and then crafting from that, a stripped down, finely chiselled, polished work – in art and in life. Through the magic of poetry, she contemplates the interplay of the personal and the historic, of trauma and spirit.
Numerous workshops and teachers in Toronto, and in the US have helped to shape her poetic vision including those at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass, and the Cape Cod Writers Center in Osterville, Mass. She is a member of several Toronto poetry working groups, the Renaissance Revival Poetry Group, the Hibiscus Writer’s Circle; and a founding partner in the start-up literary journal, Change Artists, with our own Sharon Goodier. Her poems have been published in the Canadian Jewish News Literary Supplement, Tikkun, Persimmon Tree, Split This Rock; and now in self-curated form on Facebook and Instagram personal creative pages. In July 2019, she produced a chapbook entitled, of History and Being.
Denis Stokes was born in Toronto and grew up in Scarborough. He was educated at
U. of T. and Vermont College.
He is the author of several chapbooks, including Scarborough Poems (Wordwrights
Canada), Dublin in the Sunlight and What the Street Knows (Albernum Press) plus the
book A Wolf Rages Down the Little Jocko.
His work has appeared in such journals as Descant, Queen’s Quarterly, Quarry, CVII,
Arc and various anthologies in Canada, the U.S., and Ireland.
Denis has lived/taught in northern B.C., northern Q.C., and northern Ontario. He
organizes the Conspiracy of 3 Reading Series in N. Bay, ON.
Host: Gavin Barrett
BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION
Dwayne Morgan is a two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion. He began his
career as a spoken word artist in 1993. In 1994, he founded Up From The Roots
to promote the positive artistic contributions of African Canadian and
urban influenced artists.
Morgan is the 2018 winner of the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for Career
Achievement in Spoken Word. In 2016, Morgan was a finalist for the Premier’s
Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2013, Morgan was inducted into the Scarborough
Walk of Fame. Morgan has received both the African Canadian Achievement Award, and
the Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2012, Morgan performed at Super
Bowl 46, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Morgan is the winner of 3 Canadian Urban Music
Awards (2001, 2003, 2005). In 2005, Morgan was recognized as Poet of Honour at the
Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Vancouver, and in 2008 he was recognized on the Legacy Black History Month poster. In 2019, he founded and co-produced the inaugural Toronto Spoken Soul Festival.
Dwayne has performed for several top politicians and has shared the stage with many of Canada’s top artists.
Morgan has published thirteen books and chapbooks and several albums and a commemorative DVD entitled, Dwayne Morgan The First Fifteen.
Further, Dwayne collaborated with Driftwood Studios to film a ten-minute film, which premiered in Toronto’s Reel World Film Festival. Morgan produces and hosts two TV shows, Poetically Speaking, and Write in Toronto, on the Afroglobal Television Network, and Bell Fibe TV1 respectively.
Dwayne has travelled widely in his many creative efforts as a well-respected component of Toronto’s urban music community, as well as on the North American, and Global, spoken word scenes.
Charles C. Smith
Charles C. Smith is a poet, playwright, and essayist who has written and edited fourteen books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios, drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, edited three collections of poetry and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Poetry Canada Review, the Quille, and Quire, Descant, Dandelion, Fiddlehead, and others.
Charles is the Executive Director of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario and Artistic Director of the wind in the leaves collective. His recent books include: Travelogue of the bereaved, The Dirty War: The Making of the Myth of Black Dangerousness, Whispers (2014) and Destination Out (2018).
Host: Rudy Fearon
Jamie Urquhart is a developing poet living in Toronto. Hailing from Cork, Ireland, Jamie came to Canada in 2017 after earning a master’s degree in biochemistry and a certification in music; he has been honing his writing skills using his background in science and his love of the arts as inspiration for his reflective verse. His work has been featured in The Penny Dreadful, an Irish literary journal, and he is currently shaping a collection of both classic and experimental poems focusing on the metaphysical aspects of the quotidian.
Shomee is a multidisciplinary artist, who graduated from the University of Alberta, spent two semesters at the University of Winchester in the UK, and took Masters classes at York University. He is an acting coach, and currently is teaching creative writing workshops through GoBoomrang.com. His writing life includes works for theatre, film, poetry, short stories, auto-biographical works, songwriting and working on his novel about empathy called The Path of M. He also wrote and produced an adaptation of Hamlet, called Samsaria; blending Shakespeare with the aesthetics and philosophies from India, and is now turning it into a novel.
Host: Hanna Shafi
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Georgia Wilder writes poetry and short fiction. She is a winner of Quattro Books 'Best New Poets in Canada' (2018) for her collection 'Atom-Bomb Nostalgia' and was nominated for the Journey Prize for short fiction (2015). She runs a monthly poetry salon in Toronto called Wild Writers and has featured at many poetry events. She is nearing completion of a manuscript of interconnected poems entitled “The Change” and is also working on poems to accompany the landscape photography of Max Lamour for a museum tour this coming summer. She teaches writing at the University of Toronto.
Matthew Gwathmey was born in Richmond, Virginia, and studied creative writing at the University of Virginia. He became a Canadian citizen in 2013 and lives with his wife and children in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where he is a Ph.D. student at UNB. Our Latest in Folktales is his first poetry collection, published by Brick Books in the spring of 2019.
Host: Eleni Gouliaras
Heather J. Wood
Heather J. Wood was born and raised in Montreal and now lives and writes in Toronto. She is the author of two books, Fortune Cookie and Roll With It. Her work has appeared in several journals and anthologies, most recently in The Trinity Review. In 2016, she was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for editing the international Gods, Memes and Monsters anthology. Heather is the Artistic Director of the Rowers Reading Series and the Second Vice-Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada National Council.
Born in 1951 in the UK, Robert Priest, is the author of 14 books of poetry, 3 plays, 2 novels, 7 music CDS, 1 hit song, many columns for Toronto’s Now Magazine, and numerous pieces for CBC Radio’s hit spoken word show “Wordbeat” under the alias “Dr. Poetry”. His passionate poetry for adults is wide-ranging and much praised, while his children’s poetry is more tender, underpinned with a utopian hopefulness. Canadian novelist Barbara Gowdy has described him as “the voice of the people and the angels, entwined” and the Pacific Rim Review has said, “He is certainly one of the most imaginatively inventive poets in the country.” Priest’s plays, novels, and songs have earned him awards and recognition in Canada, as well as a growing legion of readers (and listeners) world wide. “Poetry full of flashes of insight. Imaginative in a strange way, he takes inordinate chances with logic, countering absurdity with absurdity, and expanding our sense of human emotional possibilities.” – The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature Robert Priest is one of the few Canadians to have achieved bestseller status as both a songwriter and a poet. The fiery rock ballad, Song Instead Of A Kiss, co-authored with Nancy Simmonds and rock diva Alannah Myles, spent two weeks at the top of the Canadian charts and still receives airplay around the world. His book of poetry, Reading The Bible Backwards, rose to Number 2 on the Globe and Mail’s poetry charts, its sales exceeded only by those of Leonard Cohen. A performance video of Robert singing his song One Crumb has more than 110,000 hits on YouTube. Robert writes passionate love songs, hilarious raps, and incisive topical political protest songs, and has co-written with many well-known artists including Alanis Morissette, Alannah Myles, The Jitters, Tom Cochran, Marc Jordan, Staggered Crossing, Melanie Doane, John Capek, and composer Srul Irving Glick. Robert has entertained on live radio and tv, and for live audiences around the world. Robert lives in Toronto with Marsha Kirzner.
Host: Rosa Arlotto
David Clink is the poetry editor (along with his sister, Carolyn) of Amazing Stories Magazine. His poem, “A sea monster tells his story” won the 2013 Aurora Award for Best Poem/Song. His poetry has appeared in over 50 journals, including Analog five times and Asimov’s three times. He has two speculative poetry collections, Monster, (published by Tightrope Books, 2010) and, The Role of Lightning in Evolution (Chizine Publications, 2016). His poetry has appeared in four Tesseracts anthologies and in genre journals Star*Line; On Spec; and, Pulp Literature. His next genre poetry collection is arriving on Earth in 2021 from CZP.
Maida Sosa-Velazquez was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and raised in Toronto, Canada. She majored in Professional Writing at York University and completed the school’s competitive Creative Writing program.
In 2018, she published her first chapbook, Mind the Tracks, with Grey Borders Books, and in 2019, she published a short story in Mentors – Collective Lessons for Success. In 2020, Grey Borders Books will be publishing her collection of short horror stories.
Maida regularly performs pieces that details her varied experiences. In 2019, she travelled to Philadelphia and Chicago to read at StorySLAM events hosted by The Moth. As a result, Maida featured in articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and 34th Street Magazine.
Over the years, Maida has taken the stage at several other events, including Barrett and Welsh's Tartan Turban Secret Readings Series; Shab-e She'r; Art Bash (The Launch of Eric & Eloise); the Toronto Poetry Slam at the Drake Hotel; Wanderings at the Theatre Centre; and the Trophy Storytelling Event at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre. In 2019, Maida featured at the Art Bar Reading Series, won first place in a Haiku Deathmatch hosted by Toronto Poetry Project, and spoke at a Pro-Choice Rally at Queen's Park. She is excited about the opportunities ahead.
Carmelo Militano is Winnipeg author of two books of poetry ( Morning After You and The Stone Mason’s Notebook) and three books of prose, The Fate of Olives, Sebastiano’s Vine, and Lost Aria.
He is the winner of the F.G.Bressani award for poetry, Naji Naman poetry prize, and the silver San Giovani poetry prize. All three of his prose works have been short-listed for various literary prizes.
His current book, Catching Desire, is a hybrid work using poetry, fiction, and non-fiction to explore the life and art of the modernist sculptor and painter Amedeo Modigliani.
Host: Margaret Code
One of the founding members of the Art Bar, the longest-running poetry series in Canada, Suparna Ghosh has published three books of poetry - Sandalwood Thoughts, a collection of poems and drawings; Dots and Crosses, a prose poem, and Occasionally, which features poems in free verse and ghazals in classical Indo-Persian style, one of which has been translated into Urdu and set to music; she presented the video at the Art Bar in 2018. Her poems have been published in local and international literary journals. Suparna was short-listed for the Montreal International Poetry Prize and published in their Global Poetry Anthology. A grand prize-winning poem was choreographed and staged in San Francisco. On February 13, 2019, she was one of seven poets to participate in Poetry in Union, a partnership between the League of Canadian Poets and the Union Station, and wrote personal poems for passengers. Her paintings were chosen for the Canadian Art of Imagination show featuring international artists. Her work titled Vigil was one of the finalists in the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto competition, NEXT! 2015. She has exhibited her paintings in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Please visit suparnaghosh.com for further information.
Mike Chaulk lives in Guelph, Ontario, where he drives trucks full of beer for a living. His work has appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2018, The Malahat Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Puritan, PRISM: international, and filling Station, among other places. His debut book of poetry, Night Lunch, was released and quarantined in the spring of 2020 by Gordon Hill Press.
Host: Shayona Panth
Shelly Grace Campbell
Shelly Grace is a spoken word artist who resides in Toronto. This fall she won the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word with the team Up From The Roots, becoming a National Champion.
She has strong belief in the power of storytelling for healing and expression. Her poetry deals with things very personal to her and she uses her art as a way to process and grow. As a woman of colour she is loud and unapologetic about her experiences with sexism and racism. Using her experiences in poetry for healing, teaching, and community building.
Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa-based artist and gymnastics coach, originally from Louisville, Kentucky. She has 6 chapbooks; most recently Trust Only the Beasts in the Water (above/ground press, 2019). In 2018, she released a collaborative album with Nathanael Larochette, If the river stood still. She is the winner of Arc's 2017 Diana Brebner Prize and The Capilano Review's 2019 Robin Blaser Poetry Contest and writes reviews for Canthius. Her debut full-length collection of poetry, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, came out May 2020 with Guernica Editions.
Host: John Oughton
Maureen Hynes is the author of seven books, five of which are poetry. Her latest collection is Sotto Voce (fall, 2019). Maureen’s first book of poetry, Rough Skin, won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award, and her 2016 collection, The Poison Colour, was shortlisted for both the Pat Lowther and Raymond Souster Awards. Maureen’s poetry has been included in over 25 anthologies, including twice in Best Canadian Poems in English, and in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, 2017. Maureen is the poetry editor for Our Times magazine. http://maureenhynes.com/
Fiona Tinwei Lam
Fiona Tinwei Lam’s new collection, Odes & Laments (Caitlin, 2019) follows two past poetry books and a children's book. She has won The New Quarterly's Nick Blatchford prize and was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Her work appears in over thirty anthologies, including The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry: 10th Anniversary. Her poetry videos have been selected for screening at festivals locally and internationally. She teaches at SFU Continuing Studies. fionalam.net
Host: Eleni Gouliaras
Jaclyn Piudik is the author of To Suture What Frays(Kelsay Books 2017) and three chapbooks, the recently launched, the corpus undone in the blizzard (Espresso Chapbooks 2019), Of Gazelles Unheard (Beautiful Outlaw 2013) and The Tao of Loathliness (Fooliar Press 2005/8). Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including New American Writing, Columbia Poetry Review, Burning Houseand CV2. She received a New York Times Fellowship for Creative Writing and the Alice M. Sellers Award from the Academy of American Poets. Piudik holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, as well as a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. She hails from New York and currently lives and works in Toronto.
Bertrand Bickersteth was born in Sierra Leone, raised in Alberta, and has lived in the U.K. and the U.S. He is an educator who also writes plays and poems. His debut collection of poetry is The Response of Weeds. He has also delivered a TEDx talk and contributed to several podcasts. He currently lives in Calgary, teaches at Olds College, and writes everywhere.
Host: Banoo Zan
Mike Lipsius once upon a time ran the Rochdale Rhymes and Readings poetry series and also released a chapbook called Lessons in Gravity through Stone's Throw Productions. Then one day a bunch of little green men in cow costumes came for him and made him work as a tax specialist until he ran away and hitchhiked back to Poetry Land (sort of a true story).
Virginia Konchan is the author of the poetry collections Any God Will Do and The End of Spectacle (both from Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2020 and 2018); a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017); and three chapbooks, Empire of Dirt (above/ground press, 2019), The New Alphabets (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Vox Populi (Finishing Line Press, 2015). She holds degrees from Beloit College (BA), Cleveland State University (MFA), and the University of Illinois-Chicago (Ph.D.). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets, The Believer, and The New Republic, her essays and criticism in Kenyon Review Online, Boston Review, Jacket2, and Guernica, her translations in The Brooklyn Rail, Asymptote and Circumference, and her fiction in StoryQuarterly, Joyland, and Memorious, among other places. Her work has been anthologized in several collections, and her honors include grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Vermont Studio Center, Ox-Bow, The Banff Center, and Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice. Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, and Associate Editor for Tupelo Quarterly, she currently lives and works in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Host: Suparna Ghosh
EllenChang-Richardson (she/her) is a Canadian poet, writer, and editor of Taiwanese and Cambodian-Chinese descent. Winner of the 2019 Vallum Award for Poetry, Ellen's work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Bywords.ca, Cypress Press, and more. Her debut chapbook Unlucky Fours is now available with Anstruther Press (2020). In addition to her writing, Ellen is the founder of Little Birds Poetry and the cofounder of Riverbed Reading Series<