Category Archives: performances

Reading at the International Festival of Authors October 21

Hi all,

I’m still pretty hyped from my reading at The Sophisticated Boom Boom last week, but it’s about time now to push forward and look ahead to my next performance, which will in fact be quite different. As a very welcome follow-up to my reading at the International Festival of Authors Poetry NOW competition earlier this year, I’ve been invited to participate in the festival’s main programming next month! I’ll be featured as part of the “Poetic New Worlds” event on Saturday, October 21st alongside an all-star cast of poets, including fellow Poetry NOW performers Dane Swan, Amanda Earl, and David Goldstein, as well as the contest’s winner, Stuart Ross. Honestly, though, there are just too many amazing and deeply respected poets on the program to list…you’ll just have to come out and see them! The event takes place at 4pm on Saturday, October 21st, in Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre (235 Queens Quay West). Tickets are $18 or $15 for IFOA sponsors, and can be purchased here, but admission is free for students and youth! This year’s entire IFOA festival takes place between October 19 and October 29.

I’ve said this before, but being invited to perform on the IFOA stage is a huge honour. It should be obvious that this is a BIG festival with BIG names, and among other things it’ll probably have the biggest audience I’ve ever performed for. In addition, I’ll easily be the least experienced poet on stage at “Poetic New Worlds.” Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to helping put on a great show, and to getting a chance to share my approach to poetry with a new set of engaged listeners and readers.

 

 

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Reading at the Sophisticated Boom Boom Wednesday night

Howdy all,

I’ve been bustling around these past few weeks preparing for another school year of full-time dissertating and part-time pseudo-academic labour, but luckily I’m not too busy to read at The Sophisticated Boom Boom‘s 43rd edition this coming Wednesday! By my reckoning, the Boom Boom is a pretty much irreplaceable part of Toronto’s literary scene: a little off the beaten trail of mainstream series, Nick McKinlay and EA Douglas have managed to attract a community of dedicated, envelope-pushing, and mostly emerging poets and weirdos to populate one of the city’s more vibrant open mics. And on top of all that, it’s a late (like, late late) show at the dank back room of The Ossington in the heart of one of the city’s artsiest districts. What’s not to love? Although the series has been on hiatus for the summer months, I’m looking forward to a great crowd for their return show. If you’re thinking of swinging by, it’s 9pm this Wednesday, September 13 at The Ossington (61 Ossington Ave.), and you can check out the facebook event page here.

Along with the aforementioned open mic, I’ll be featuring alongside Inez Genereux. If Inez’s bio on the event’s facebook page is any indication (although there are also other indications), our performances and personas may end up gravitating towards opposite poles of what you might expect from poetry at the Boom Boom. But as far as I’m concerned, that’ll only make the evening more delicious. And besides, since I’ve been psyching myself up to read some very new work this Wednesday (I didn’t think another set from Players would be up to snuff for the Boom Boom audience), who knows what kind of vibe we’ll end up with? The point, of course, is to come find out.

 

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Reading at The Art Bar on August 1

Hi all!

Things have been pretty quiet this month since the amazing time I had doing my Peripheral Review Instagram Residency. (And by quiet, I mean I’ve been writing lots and trying not to talk so much.) I do have one announcement: On Tuesday, August 1, I’ll be reading at the recent reboot of Toronto’s much beloved, longest running weekly poetry reading series, The Art Bar!

I’ve spoken about The Art Bar a few times before…I’ve attended the series for many years and through various venues, and I pretty much cut my teeth on their open mic. I’ve also been featured at the series a few times already (maybe three, by now?) and always had a blast; I find the series tends to attract a mix of die-hard regulars, well established members of Canada’s poetry community (two of which, Pier Giorgio Di Cicco and Mike Burrs, I’ll be reading with two Tuesdays from now), and curious newbies. This time around, I owe some heartfelt thanks to friend, mentor, and dedicated literary organizer Rob Welch for setting everything up.

If you’re interested in checking out the scene and/or seeing me read, I’d love to see you at the show! Also, you can now (apparently) win $20 at the open mic, if you sign up a few days in advance and best the competition on some relatively unorthodox scoring metrics (which you can find more details about here)…so, I guess that’s cool? Anyway, the reading takes place Tuesday, August 1 at the Free Times Cafe (320 College Street), starting at 8pm, with a cover charge of $5. You can also take a look at the event’s facebook page for more info. Hope to see you there!

 

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Tree Reading Series in Ottawa next week, and “Min” in oratorealis

Hi everyone,

To begin, I’m very excited about the fact that I’ll be a featured reader (alongside Shoshanna Wingate) at next Tuesday’s edition of Tree Reading Series in Ottawa. In all honesty, there’s not much I can say about the series (since I’ve never been before!), but I do know it has a long tradition and an important place in Ottawa’s literary scene, both of which I’m happy to have a role in. It’s also a little flattering (though also intimidating!) to be described as a conceptual poet “known for fresh takes” (as Tree’s website points out)–I hope I don’t disappoint! In any case, I should thank Pearl Pirie and Nina Jane Drystek (who I met, by happenstance, at an art opening during my visit to Ottawa last February) for helping set up the reading. If you’re in Ottawa, it’s taking place on Tuesday, May 23, 6:45pm at Black Squirrel Books (and here’s the event’s facebook page).

Recently, I also got to see the text of my poem, “Min,” in this spring’s issue of oratorealis, a new-ish West coast literary journal with the provocative mission of publishing spoken word and experimental poetry. My piece definitely falls into the latter, since (as I’ve admitted to folks who have seen it) I have no idea how exactly it would be performed orally. The piece itself is a kind of textual medley, comprising poetic summaries of the verses of Cab Calloway’s big band jazz classic “Minnie the Moocher” as well as redacted transcriptions of the original verses, which reduce them to something resembling the song’s famous call-and-response scat choruses. As long as I’m on the topic, I might as well add that my process for writing the piece involved downloading every version and cover of the song I could find, then listening to them on loop until the lyrics (and their multiple musical renditions) were etched in my head. It’s a very, very good song.

Anyway, I think that’s all for now. Happy reading!

 

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Poetry London reading next Wednesday, April 19

Hi all,

I’m here to post a quick (but passionate!) note about my upcoming reading at Poetry London in London, Ontario. You probably already know that I’m a PhD student at London’s Western University, and that I lived in the city for several years while I was doing coursework. During that time, I was also lucky enough to attend a slew of Poetry London readings (not to mention other poetry events around the city, like the London Poetry Open Mic), to officially introduce Sandra Ridley (who’s shortlisted for a Griffin Prize as of, like, today) when she performed there two years ago, and to meet many of the series’s organizers, hosts, and regular attendees.

I really can’t overstate that the London poetry community is excellent, and that they’ve been excellent to me. Moreover, Poetry London is probably my favourite reading series anywhere: it’s well-curated, professional, immersive, well-attended, and includes expert introductions and (usually) interesting Q & As, plus a workshop the hour before each monthly event. All of this means I’m incredibly honoured to be there; I just hope I have enough new (or new-feeling) material to intrigue and entertain an audience that’s already been following my work for several years.

The reading takes place at the Landon Branch Library in London’s Wortley village, Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 pm (with a workshop at 6:30). All the details are currently on the series’s front page, here. Finally, I should mention that my co-reader for the evening is Ulrikka S. Gernes, whose CV is simply incredible…I’ll definitely be the upstart artist next Wednesday, but fortunately it’s a role I’m comfortable with. If you’re in London, I hope to see you there!

 

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Gerald Lampert Award shortlist / IFOA Poetry NOW recap

Hi all,

Most of what I have to say has already made its social media rounds, but I think it’s important to step back and reflect on the last few weeks. They’ve been a little overwhelming–full of new connections as well as the re-emergence of unanswerable-as-ever questions.

First, I want to thank the League of Canadian Poets for continuing to sponsor and promote the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for a first book of poetry published by a Canadian, for which Players has been shortlisted this year. There’s probably little to say outside the many congratulations and thanks that have already been offered, although I do want to express my deep appreciation and respect for those who administer the LCP and its awards, those who have served as jurors (both this year and in past years), those who read and spread the news of this year’s shortlist, those who were shortlisted, and those who weren’t–basically, everyone whose contributions of attention, expression, and acknowledgement help support a community of which the 2017 LCP awards shortlists are only one of many centres. I’ve been telling friends outside the poetry community that awards like these are really about creating dialogue and (where necessary) solidarity in the artistic and literary landscape; I just hope I’m not alone in thinking that.

Second, I wanted to drive home what a great time I had at the International Festival of Authors‘ Poetry NOW reading at the end of last month. Aside from making new friends and acquaintances (and reconnecting with some old ones) among the poets and patrons I had the opportunity of spending time with at the event, I was also privileged enough to have a front row seat for some of the best readings/performances I’ve ever heard/seen. Pretty much everyone was good, even though the group represented a massive variety of styles that leaves me no less confused about the performance genre of ‘page poetry’ reading than I was a few weeks ago. Still, I came away with the feeling that I’d learned a lot. Stuart Ross’s victory was very well-earned–Ross has definitely perfected a unique style of performance well-suited to his writing, which may be just the thing that makes a reading memorable–although I was also delighted to see that the IFOA invited a generous helping of the evening’s performers back to give readings at this year’s festival in October. Of course, I’m also excited to say that I was one of the poets invited, which means, I guess, that we’ll be having this conversation all over again in the fall. See you then!

(Finally, I couldn’t help but finish this post off by poaching another of the IFOA’s super-sleek promo photos for Poetry NOW. Congratulations again to all the readers!)

 

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Poetry in Motion on All Lit Up / 5 Questions with… on IFOA blog

Howdy everyone,

Two big pieces of news this week. First (and just in time to get in on the hype for my performance at Battle of the Bards next Wednesday), All Lit Up has generously featured me and my book, Players, on the newest contribution to their Poetry in Motion blog series. The post includes a pretty sweet write-up and a poem from the book, “Love Song for Kazoo,” but the main event is a pair of videos of me reading two other short poems: “Lush,” and the ever-popular “for MF DOOM.” You should watch them, right now, here. Though I’ve performed both poems at readings a bunch of times, these videos were shot especially for All Lit Up (with many thanks owed to Amanda Boulos for help with the filming, and for letting me stand and yell in front of her artwork).

A quick word about performing ‘page poetry,’ and the film medium…. The whole idea of performing poetry that isn’t specifically written for performance is both something I’m seriously interested in and something I’m largely baffled by. For their part, All Lit Up’s Poetry in Motion features do a great job of showcasing the huge variety of approaches people take to the genre (that is, the ‘poetry reading’ as a performance genre), especially because combining it with the film medium only seems to exacerbate the variance: if you look through the archives, you’ll notice that Poetry in Motion videos range from recorded live readings to staged, for-the-camera performances to produced and edited video poems (an established sub-genre in its own right). In my videos, I tried to mix together some (very) basic theatrical principles, something of the emotional vibe of spoken word, and some of the from-the-book authenticity and intellectualism of lecture-style readings. But I’m still really curious about how this kind of presentation comes across. Is it entertaining? Engaging? Convincing? Is it any better or worse than reading the book? I’ve always felt that public readings are somewhere in between a unique experience of the art form and a largely artificial gimmick for organizing the literary community; perhaps that in-betweenness isn’t going anywhere, but I’m still always wondering whether it can or should be pushed in certain directions.

In any case, all of this only leads me closer to the aforementioned Poetry NOW: Battle of the Bards, which I and 19 other poets will be performing  nexatt Wednesday at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. As part of the build-up, IFOA has just posted a “5 Questions with…” interview with me and three other contestants–Julie Cameron Gray, David Goldstein, and Lisa Richter–on their blog. You can check it out here. It’s a pretty interesting smattering of poets’ opinions about poetry, and the format (each of us answered the same five questions, without knowledge of each other’s answers) gives it a kind of rapid-fire effect. Also, it continues to amaze me that David Goldstein was one of my professors (and a great one at that!) during my undergraduate creative writing days at York; some of the poems in Players were even first written for his third-year poetry workshop. Seeing our names together makes me feel (accurately) like a total fraud. But there we are (see below).

Finally, here’s a ballin’ promo pic from IFOA’s Instagram to cap things off. As always, happy reading!

 

 

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CFRU 93.3 Guelph interview with &, collective, and Battle of the Bards March 29!

Hi all,

Although this winter has been fairly sleepy, I’m looking forward to a miniature flurry of updates to post about in these last few weeks of March. One of these updates’ subjects, in fact, has already happened: last Sunday I had the pleasure of joining Lauren Lavery on her International Art English talk show on CFRU 93.3 (Guelph campus and community radio) alongside two other friends and &, collective (website to be updated soon, I hope!) poets, Mike Chaulk and Sierra Paquette-Struger. The four of us had a pretty rewarding conversation about the collective’s current and past projects, making books at Publication Studio, the poetry scenes in some Southern Ontarian cities, and wood ducks. We even read a few of our poems on air. If you’re interested in sampling the interview, you can find the archived recording here.

Next up, I wanted to take a second to announce that I’ll be participating in the International Festival of Authors’ 2017 Poetry NOW Battle of the Bards competition! Even though my participation in this was based on a random draw (so don’t get too jealous), I’m pretty damn excited to be taking part. The competition features short readings by 20 poets, with the winner receiving an invitation to read at the International Festival of Authors this fall and an ad for their book in NOW Magazine. But who cares about winning, right? In any case, this year’s lineup includes some folks I’m very excited to read with, and others who are sure to offer up some stiff competition…I’m just hoping to put on a good show. The event takes place at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room, 7:30pm on Wednesday, March 29. Admission is $10 (but free for students!).

Happy listening!

 

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Buffalo, NY: Center for Inquiry / Just Buffalo Literary Cafe

Hey folks,

I’ve been pretty beat this week, mostly from riding the bus out to Buffalo, NY to perform at the Center for Inquiry / Just Buffalo Literary Cafe last night, but I wanted to take some time to thank some of the great folks who made the event happen. First and foremost thanks go to Josh Smith, the incredibly well-travelled Buffalo poet known to many (including me) for his frequent appearances in the Toronto scene: aside from guest-hosting the reading and inviting me to it in the first place, Josh also delivered an impressive tour of the city, took me out to lunch at the bar that invented Buffalo wings (or, as I was later informed, “chicken wings”), and was a pretty great conversation partner for the day. At the reading itself, I was really impressed by the writings/performances of co-features Justin Karcher and Benjamin Brindise, who I definitely hope to see/hear/read again soon (I owe thanks to them, especially, for making me look good, though I also got a lot out of their distinct styles and poetic approaches). Finally, I can’t thank The Buffalo News enough for printing one of my poems from Players, “The Mole Rat,” in their paper’s Sunday edition. I kind of still can’t believe that happened. (Though you can also see the poem for yourself here.)

Overall, it was a privilege to visit the city, and to add another line to the list of places where I’ve been able to share my writing. For a little while at least, I’ll be sending dreams and love in Western New York’s direction.

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Carousel Guelph launch this Wednesday, and a new interview at Vocamus Press

Hi everyone,

Beginning with the second topic, I wanted to take a second to wholeheartedly thank Vocamus Press (Guelph’s champion of local literature) and especially Sheri Doyle, Friends of Vocamus Press’s Director of Communications, for posting Sheri’s interview with me on the Vocamus Press blog just last week. Sheri’s readings of some poems from Players (including some that didn’t make it into the final interview) are really incredible, and I think we opened up some great discussions around things like found poetry, the question of “meaning,” Players‘s road to publication, and even what it’s like writing from the perspectives of my ex-girlfriends. Check out the interview here (and don’t be afraid to skip to the juiciest-looking questions!).

For those in the physical (and not only thematic) vicinity of Guelph, I’ll be reading at Carousel Magazine‘s annual Guelph launch this Wednesday, November 23, starting at 7pm at Silence (46 Essex street, near downtown). (Here’s the facebook event page.) If you haven’t heard of Carousel…well, you should check it out. Aside from readings by me (potentially including some projected visual accompaniments, confirmation pending) and Mark Connery, the event also features sound performance by William Davidson, a projection-performance by Mark Laliberte, and an open mic (!). Alongside the magazine, Mark will also be launching the first issue of his collaborative 4PANEL experimental comic arts project. I don’t think you need any more than that description to realize how cool this is, but you should still check out 4PANEL’s website and instagram.

Happy reading, hearing, and seeing!

 

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