Friday, 28 April 2017

Banff Centre Spoken Word Residency - Day 12

Friday, April 28
7:30 pm - Tanya Tagaq Performance - Margaret Greenham Theatre

I spent the day preparing for the performance, and then met up with Kyla from the Social Media team at Banff Centre for a short interview and photo.

In the evening we attended the Tanya Tagaq performance. Having never experienced throat singing before, I did not know what to expect, and was really excited.

Tanya Tagaq is a contemporary artist and throat singer from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. She just won the prestigious 2014 Polaris Prize and the 2015 Juno Award for Best Aboriginal Album of the Year for her latest album, Animism. Since 2001, she has forged a remarkable career performing on stages around the world and collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Bjork and the Kronos Quartet. She has released four award-winning albums: Sinaa (2005), Auk/ Blood (2008), Anuraaqtuq (2011) and Animism(2014) which is also set to be released in the United States. She has won numerous Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and been nominated for numerous Juno Awards. During her teenage years, while away at school, she began experimenting with Inuit throat singing and gradually developed her own solo style, fusing contemporary interests with this traditional art form. Her unique sound defies easy categorization; it has been described as ‘primal’, ‘orchestral’ and as ‘free jazz’.

She has also ventured into film performance, contributing to the soundtrack for “Diaries of Knut Rasmussen” and theme music for the CBC television show Arctic Air. She performed in the award-winning short film Tungijuq which premiered to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival (2009) and the Sundance Film Festival (2010). More recently, she has collaborated with musicians Jesse Zubot and Jean Martin in scoring a powerful live performance set to the 1922 film, Nanook of the North.

"Her ghostly chants, guttural growls, gasps and moans are enough to make Björk, her sometime collaborator, sound as demure as a choirgirl." - The Guardian

The performance was out of this world. Tanya showed another side to her personality. Infact, it was hard to believe that the woman on stage was the same woman who had appeared so sensitive and fragile at the beginning of her artist talk the day before.

She had mentioned that the performance may have been difficult to understand had she not spoken to us, and I can certainly see what she meant by that. I think that when on stage, she was enacting some of the stories that she had told us about. What came out of her mouth was so rich, full of emotion, pain, grief, hurt, delight. It was visually amazing to watch also. She was transformed as she moved from one character to another.

At the end I met up with the other Spoken Word artists and we were shellshocked and speechless! We had been blown away.

Banff Spoken Word 2017 - group photo

I'm having the pleasure of spending two weeks with this bunch of talented individuals at Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Banff Centre Spoken Word Residency - Day 11

Thursday, April 27

Workshop 8, Led by Tanya Tagaq

ARTIST TALK + Q&A - Tanya Tagaq talked about how the North influences her art and took questions.

Tanya Tagaq is a Canadian (Inuk) throat singer, artist and activist from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq), Nunavut, Canada, on the south coast of Victoria Island. She gave an artist talk as part of the Banff Spoken Word program during which she kindly shared some of her writing with us, and then answered questions from the group. Her writing is based on her experience and is also quite abstract. She intends for her writing to increase awareness and then help with the healing process.

She presented herself in a curious manner; Softly spoken and prone to giggles, her feminine, timid, high-pitched voice indicated a degree of shyness and vulnerability. However, as she revealed some of the disturbing stories of her childhood, a more confident, resilient and courageous character emerged.

I admire the way that, despite all the trauma she has been through, she does not want this to be her identity and is not looking for self pity.

Some really pertinent comments she made, include

"If you don't live it, don't claim it"

"It's not until you give birth that you realise the pain that will be involved in dying"

"If you have a papercut, don't complain to people with no arms"

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Raise A Mug Studiowarming at Carliol House

Finally, its here! After a long and tiresome move, we can finally enjoy a proper brew, catch up and celebrate our move to the new building!

On 2nd May at 6pm join Helen and Holly at Carliol House in the shared space where you can collect your mug and have a cuppa and some cake with us.

If you were unable to donate a mug for the move but would like to join us, not to worry, the event is open to all studioholders. Just bring a mug!

The Newbridge tea towels will also be available to buy for £5 each.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

Holly and Helen :)

Banff Centre Spoken Word Residency - Day 10

Wednesday, April 26

Individual Studio Time

Geology Talk and Walk

Rick Miller, Dragonfly Documentary

This morning I was greeted by a deer as I walked from the accommodation to my studio. How I will miss moments like this when I return to Newcastle!

I spent the majority of the day editing the sound files that I had recorded yesterday and practicing my performance for Saturday.

In the afternoon I attended Jim's talk on the geology of Banff. Most of the mountains in Banff are metamorphic rocks (Sedimentary rocks that have been heated or compressed). Limestone is most commonly found in Banff. There are parts of the mountains that are composed of clastic rock. Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. A clast is a fragment of geological detritus, chunks and smaller grains of rock broken off other rocks by physical weathering. One way of distinguishing the difference between limestone and clastic rock is by looking at the snow on the rocks - clastic sediments gather snow more than limestone.

The other day at lunch I got talking to a couple of film makers who are on a short residency here. 

Tonight I met up with Rick to discuss the work that he and I are currently doing, and our links with mental health organisations. Rick is working on a project investigating the links between creativity and mental health difficulties. He is going to be interviewing 'mad artists' and showcasing the work that they make. The term 'mad artist' is not one that I am familiar with, and I was a little embarrassed to ask Rick to explain what he meant by it. He handed me a scrap of paper from his jacket pocket. 

There was this short explanation of the term, and Rick was proud to inform me that the definition had been written by the Canada Council. 

Mad arts

"Mad is framed as a social and political identity by people who have been labelled as mentally ill or as having mental health issues. Rather than focusing on awareness and coping with stigma, Mad Pride focuses on expressing the unique ways people experience the world in terms of making meaning, developing communities, and creating culture. Mad arts is the artistic exploration of Mad Pride focusing on mad histories and identities."

Canada Council

It is really encouraging to know that the Canadian Council have such a good understanding of the situation and are keen to support Mad Pride.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Banff Centre Spoken Word Residency - Day 9

Tuesday, April 25

Recording studio sessions - Rice Audio Studio, 
Writing Circle 

Today was another icy cold day with plenty of snow.

Individual Studio time
I spent the morning completing the scripts for each of the Spoken Word participants to read from within my allotted recording studio session. I have decided to use a mixture of recorded audio and spoken word in my performance on Saturday evening. I have developed the text that I wrote in response to the vulnerability that I felt on the first day in the Opening Circle. I believe it will work well, given the context of the residency, to begin my performance with a mixed audio track of the different participants vocalising their insecurities and fears. This will be followed by me reading the text, which will then lead into the concluding audio track consisting of the participants vocalising sounds and words of support and reassurance. Having collected lots of recordings from participants over the course of the residency, I have now chosen the sounds that i want each person to say, but will record it higher quality in the sound booth. It has been quite a mean feat arranging the recording session schedule, but I've now got the hour planned well.

Recording Studio Session
The recording session went well and the time flew by! Now I have the task of editing all the recordings into the tracks to be played for the performance.

Writing Circle
In the evening I attended the Writing Circle group at the Library. One of the exercises that we did was to take different lines from different existing poems to form a new poem. We could also take a line from an existing poem and then do our own creative writing from this. At the event I met other artists on different programs at Banff which was interesting.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - Day 8

Monday, April 24 

Workshop 6, Led by Janet Rogers

Workshop 7, Led by Buddy Wakefield 

Individual Meeting - Buddy Wakefield

Workshop 6, Led by Janet Rogers

In this workshop Janet Rogers shared the evolution of her media poetry from page to screen and the possibilities beyond. I gained a greater understanding of literary and media processes and where multi-media projects can live. Janet shared the possibilities that exist between literary, media and performance. She showed us how one piece of work exists in print, as a spoken performance and as an audio track on a CD, and we compared the effect that these different formats had on the work.

Workshop 7, Led by Buddy Wakefield

In this workshop we each presented a performance piece that we would appreciate feedback on. Buddy provided in-the-moment coaching and feedback on our presentation and performance.

Individual Meeting - Buddy Wakefield

Buddy and I discussed my work for the forthcoming performance at the Spoken Word Flash Forward event. I had changed the tense from 'you' to 'I', and Buddy agreed that this made it seem a lot more genuine.
He mentioned that my writing often relates to 'moments' in time, and that he could imagine them becoming part of some more extended writing such as a novel.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - Day 7

Sunday, April 23

Trip to Lake Louise
Individual Studio time

The Community Services department at the Banff Centre had arranged an optional bus trip to Lake Louise, and so a group of us took the opportunity to visit somewhere outside of Banff.

We were dropped off at the Lake and then had a few hours to spend at Lake Louise before heading back to the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. 

The lake was completely frozen and people were able to walk over it. Lake Louise is dominated by the huge Fairmont hotel, so Isabel, Bea and I decided to escape from the busyness and touristic nature of the hotel area, and hike up to a viewpoint overlooking the lake. 

The snow was really deep and few people had ventured on the beaten track that we took uphill, so it really did seem that we were out in the wilderness. 

The group split, with half staying at the hotel for the afternoon and the other half (including me) returning to Banff to crack on with our work. Danielle kindly drove us back. It was good to get some solid time in my studio to work on my writing.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Brandon Wint - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Brandon Wint is a poet, spoken word artist, and prominent teacher of writing, currently living in Edmonton, Alberta. He is, perhaps, best known for his ability to meaningfully articulate the mysteries of love, romance and kindness in his poetry. He is a poet who uses the potential of writing and speaking to articulate the beauties of the world, and where possible, the silver-linings that underscore the ugliness and struggle that is inherent to the human condition. His typically soft-spoken, musical and delicately-rendered spoken word pieces have garnered attention and admiration from audience members across Canada and in far-away places like England and Australia, where his life and work have been showcased on radio and in print. He is a two-time national slam champion, the author of one collection of poetry, Love, Our Master (In/Words Magazine and Press, 2014) and one recently-released album entitled The Long Walk Home.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Philip Wilcox - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Philip is the 2015/16 Australian Poetry Slam Champion as well as a two-time New South Wales Slam Champion. He tours nationally and internationally, performing at festivals such as the Ubud Writers’ Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing and the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival.

He is also a (sometimes) playwright having written two plays for the Sydney Fringe Festival – The Staffroom (2012) and Thursday (2013) which was voted the most popular comedy play of the festival.

He is just about to release his first published collection of poems Beetle Prayer with Pitt Street Poetry.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Mitcholos - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Mitcholos is a Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ/ Nuučaan̓uɫ artist from a tiny reservation with no hopes or aspirations that anybody would chase if they had a MODICUM of sanity – which is convenient ‘cause after 500 years of degradation in what is Colonially Known As Canada – sanity is in woefully short supply; which makes his people fun. One Housekeeping Note: Be sure to wipe your white tears during and after the show, though they be potent, are worth nothing. Until you invent technology that runs strictly on white tears – technology that doesn’t destroy the environment or enslave colored children somewhere – it’s worth nothing here beyond sating and stroking Mitcholos’ own exhibitionist, histrionic ego. Enjoy.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Isabelle St-Pierre - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Isabelle St-Pierre has been making her voice heard as a Canadian poet, slammer and storyteller for over 20 years in Québec, Ontario, Acadia and France. As the daughter of an immigrant mother, she carries within herself the gentle melancholy of the nomad, of the wandering Jew. Through her own identity and territorial questions, she paints realistic portraits, addressing difficult and sensitive subjects such as poverty, working class life, everyday violence and injustice. Close to folk and protest song, hers is a committed word that aspires to be a tool for social change. Since 2005, she has been leading and running dozens of shows, open mikes, contests, and workshops, in different venues and festivals. From 2005 to 2010, she directed the storytelling /slam component of l’État d’Urgence, refugee camp (ATSA) , mobilizing more than 20 artists for the event and providing a space for homeless voices to be heard. Since 2012, she has actively been organizing and hosting the Montréal Slam Sessions, a monthly event featuring spoken word artists and an open mike formula. In January 2016, she created an unprecedented event with Caroline N.Hotte (CBC North), Paroles Fauves: a poetic vigil to fight violence against aboriginal women.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Heath V. Salazar - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Heath V. Salazar is a Dora Award-winning latinx actor/singer/ dancer/writer, born in Canada, who performs as male, female and gender variant. They’re one of the original creators of the new Canadian musical, Chasse-Galerie. It was with this production that they won a Dora Award for Outstanding Performance - Ensemble and were also nominated under Outstanding Production in the Independent Theatre Devision. Over the past year, they were a regular on Season 4 of the award-winning webseries, Out With Dad, with whom they also worked as a script consultant. Other credits include We Are Not the Others (partnership between McMaster University and Izad Etemadi), the devised theatre piece Suitcases (R. Saracino Productions), TOUGH! (directed by Ken Gass, ENSEMBLE Canadian Youth Theatre), This is the August (Young Prince Collective), Dance Animal (Best of Fringe 2016, Dance Animal), The Vagina Monologues (Adam Samson Theatre), choreographer and featured dancer in Gossip (mojopro films) and The Victor Singers (the choir featured in Josh Groban’s Toronto performance of his Stages tour). This Spring, they’re set to play Goneril in Language, a multilingual film adaption of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Heath is also the fluid drag king, Gay Jesus. Bushy. Bearded. Blasphemously blessed.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Luke Wren Reid - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Born at the Huntsman, Meander, Tasmania, 10am 14th of January in the back garden, Luke Wren Reid was raised in the Meander Valley by his mother.

Luke began writing at an early age. At twenty two Luke moved to Sydney to pursue his studies in screen writing at AFTRS. There he was introduced to Filmmaker and artist Christina Conrad; Luke’s time spent under Conrad’s mentorship has had a profound effect on his work.

After several years working in film and television in Spain Luke returned to Tasmania. In 2014 he won the Launceston Spoken word event ‘Slamduggery’ taking on the role as organiser later that year. Luke’s work as Director has seen the event grow into the Tasmania’s largest monthly poetry event, fostering the work of several local artists who have gone on to become poets in their own right.

Luke’s work has been widely acclaimed both locally and nationally In 2014 and 2015 Luke represented Tasmania in the National final of the Australian Poetry Slam at the Sydney Opera house. Luke has been a featured poet at writers festivals, solo performances as well as a host of local events, rallies and public showcases.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist B.A. Markus - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

B.A. Markus is a writer, teacher and performer who lives in Montreal. She is an award-winning creative nonfiction writer, a Juno- nominated song writer, and her reviews, essays and stories can be found in anthologies and publications such as Carte Blanche, Queen’s Quarterly and The Montreal Review of Books. She can be seen telling stories at Confabulation and The Yarn storytelling events and is currently writing a series of monologues entitled, “What Mommy Needs”, about what mothers do to survive the realities of mothering.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist David Leduc - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

David Leduc, aka Le Grand Slack, is a Spoken Word artist who has been on the Quebec slam scene since 2008.

Along with his musicians, he has performed his show throughout the province, in addition to offering slam workshops in high schools and CEGEPs. From 2012 to 2016, he organized and hosted « Figures de Style », a monthly open-mic event at bar Les Pas Sages in Montreal. He is currently working on an upcoming EP that should be released this fall. « Cassé », his first single has risen to the top of the independent radio charts, and its videoclip was a hit on Musique Plus.

He is a member of the organizational committee of Slamontréal since 2017 as well as a a regular contributor to Radio-Canada’s literary show “Plus on est de fous, plus on lit !”

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Kym Dominique-Ferguson - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Kym Dominique-Ferguson is who and what you get when you blend together the polarizing languages and cultures of Jamaica, Haiti and Canada. Born on the 11th of September 1980, Ferguson always felt the lull of greatness, and throughout the years, with humility, gratitude and openness to learning, his goals and achievements match that pull.

Ferguson has made some big strides in the community, creating fixtures such as the Art of Performing Aural Sex (Erotic Poetry Show), Madpoetix Soirées Intimes (Open Mic night) and recently,the Phenomenal 5IVE (mulit-disciplinary showcase); all of which are highly anticipated events by the Montreal spoken word lovers in the city. Sensing a need to return to his Theatrical roots, Ferguson joined the Black Theatre Workshop Artist Mentorship Program. This has been a defining moment in his career as an actor. Though absent from the Theatre community for a decade and a half, his is swiftly gaining traction.

During his time in the 2015-2016 Black Theatre Workshop Artist Mentorship Program he has launched his first spoken word album: Born Jamhaitianadian on March 11, 2016. Now he is currently working on adapting his autobiographical screenplay into a theatre play that will be presented as a one-man show. He has also landed roles
in short films, commercials and others all while simultaneously producing his regular events.

A workaholic whose love is entrenched in art, with humility, gratitude and an openness to learning Kym Dominique-Ferguson continues to strive towards greatness.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Nardine Gharsa - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Nardine, often introduced to the stage as “Queen Nardine,” values authenticity and integrity in her writing. Through her poetry and music she communicates as if her performances were a conversation between two individuals, separating out the world’s tangles to uncover truths, much like the tangled curls she has learned to love. She symbolises all that it means to be a woman coming into power, with a perfect balance of strength and humility in her art. Her unique ability to effortlessly flow complex ideas through voice and melody wins hearts immediately and has quickly established her as one of Sydney’s most exciting performers. She is dropping her debut EP this year, that will surely see her develop into an Australian hip hop and story-telling icon.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Audrey Lane Cockett - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Audrey Lane is a poet, spoken word artist, arts organizer, gardener, and dreamer.

Her rhythmic and multi dimensional metaphors capture and immerse you in work that explores wildness outside and in.

Themes of mental health awareness, the natural world, and gender equality often percolate into her poems.

In the daylight hours she works as a park naturalist and outdoor educator in Calgary, Alberta.

She is an alumnus of the Canadian Wilderness Artist Residency on the Yukon River and the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. She was a member of Calgary’s 2016 Slam Poetry Team, represented Victoria at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam in 2014, and has been published in the Journal of Wild Culture.

During her travels she has followed poetry into countless cafes, bar basements, riverbanks, street corners, theatres, and community halls. She has not once regretted it.

Audrey Lane believes art is an avenue for strengthening community, education, and connection to place. She is invested in exploring poetry and its intersections with other art forms, learning, teaching, healing, and change.


Introducing Spoken Word Artist William Beale - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

WILLIAM BEALE is an Australian spoken word poet whose work has been called “a boy howling his way into the world, despite all its muzzles.” Author and composer of debut poetry collection and album, THEY CALL US LOUD (Perfect Binding Press), William represented Victoria as one of the top 15 Australian poets of 2016 at the Australian Poetry Slam in the Sydney Opera House.

Former Creative Producer of Melbourne’s Slamalamadingdong, Co-founder of Malaysia’s If Walls Could Talk, winner of the 10th BOH Cameronian Awards for Best Book & Lyrics, and a handful of Australasian slam cups. William shares and creates stages around Asia Pacific, pursuing performance art, coaching high school slams, organising poetry events and doing the word things.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Britta Badour - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Britta B. is a spoken word poet and arts educator. Originally from Kingston, ON, she now resides in Toronto’s Regent Park. Britta has performed on stages across North America and continues to collaborate with community organizations like UNITY Charity, RISE Edutainment, Leave Out Violence Ontario (LOVE) and The Stephen Lewis Foundation. When she’s not writing or educating, Britta is emceeing breakdance battles, acting in community theatre plays and travelling abroad.

Introducing Spoken Word Artist Danielle Altrogge - fellow participant in the Banff Spoken Word Programme

Danielle Altrogge is a landlocked mermaid, spoken word poet, and community organizer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She represented Saskatoon on the 2013 and 2015 Saskatoon Slam Teams, the latter of which won the championship for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Danielle was one of the writers and producers for the Saskatoon based 2015 poetry-theatre hybrid project Our Four Walls, which was nominated for Best Original Script at the Saskatoon and Area Theatre Awards. She believes in anti-oppression work, her mother, and magic. Danielle is the current Executive Director of Tonight it’s Poetry in Saskatoon and the co-chair of communications for Spoken Word Canada’s Board of Directors. Her work has been published in oratorealis, untethered, Folklore, and isms Magazine. She has performed in venues across Canada. She is currently finishing her MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - Day 6

Saturday, April 22
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm - Roundtable on creativity, education, applying for grants
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm - Workshop 5, Led by Tanya Evanson 

Roundtable on creativity, education, applying for grants

This was an opportunity for us to ask questions about any spoken word related topics. 

Workshop 5, Led by Tanya Evanson 
SONIC SALON - We were each asked to bring a short excerpt from our current project to share in an intimate performance setting. There was physicality, vocalizations, mic tech, stage possibilities, critique, feedback loops, storytelling arcs, musings, and bravery!

Tanya shared some very useful advice about nervousness, body language, and technical issues such as microphones.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - Day 5

Friday, April 21

10:00 am - 11:00 am - Recording Info Session  
11:00 am - Group Photo - Shaw Amphitheatre
4:30 pm - Faculty Show Tech Check
8:00 pm - RE:QUEST Faculty Show 

Recording Info Session  

We began with an introduction to the sound technicians and the sound room that we would be using for our recording session, and were able to ask questions about these sessions.

Group photo

Elk Adventure!

Audrey Lane, David and I took a walk to Bow River to do some sound recording. We were fortunate enough to witness a couple of elk affectionately playing with each other, rubbing their antlers together and making an incredible sound. After watching them for a long time, we crossed over the river to explore the ice and then saw a larger group of elk being herded away from the bridge and across the river towards us. They walked elegantly in pairs through the water and acknowledged us as they walked past. It was incredible!

RE:QUEST Faculty Show 

The four Spoken Word Faculty Members performed in the RE:QUEST Faculty Show 

Afua Cooper

Janet Rogers

Buddy Wakefield

Tanya Evanson

This was my first experience of a Spoken Word event and I was amazed at the variety of performances given by the four artists. Janet's use of a soundtrack and props opened my eyes to how I could integrate more of my visual art background into my performances, as did Tanya's use of props. I particularly enjoyed Tanya's text about her Dad's gumbo! I was given confidence by Afua Coopers reading of some of her texts because I saw it was still possible to make a meaningful connection with the audience when reading from notes. It did not take away from her performance. Buddy was accompanied by a piano, and it was very interesting to see how this simple addition of a beat added to the words that he was saying. It was a truly inspiring evening.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - day 4

Thursday, April 20

10:00 am - 1:00 pm - Workshop 4, Led by Tanya Evanson

Afternoon - Faculty Studios, Individual Meeting - Afua Cooper

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm - Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab - Panel and Discussion 

Workshop 4, Led by Tanya Evanson

WRITING UNDER THE INFLUENCE - From meditation to spontaneous acts of literature and performance. 

In the initial part of the workshop we did a sufi exercise - a visualisation involving a cube, a horse, a set of ladders, a storm and some flowers. Tanya led us through the meanings behind each part of the visualisation and some fascinating things were revealed!

We then did a group exercise starting with a single sentence that was written on the whiteboard. One by one we suggested a follow-on sentence from the line previously written on the board. We were then asked to write a text starting with a sentence on the whiteboard. Following this we were split into small groups and were asked to choose some sentences from the texts that we had each written and further develop another text which we were then to perform as a group to the rest of the group. This exercise demonstrated how multiple works can be developed from a single starting point.

This workshop ended with an introduction to Sema, the dance of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes, whose inspiration comes from Persian philosopher and poet Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi. 

Individual Meeting - Afua Cooper

Afua and I discussed some of the texts within my publication 'A lot can happen in fifteen minutes'. She spoke about using the words in the sentence to visualise the words on the page, and suggested some poets to research:

Walt Whitman
Pablo Nervuda
Kamau Brathwaite

Afua was really encouraging about my texts and described poems as being stories in a shortened form.

I was advised to submit my work to poetry journals and festivals, and was told about Peterloo Poetry Festival in the UK.

Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab - Panel and Discussion 

A structured discussion about language, storytelling and collaboration. This panel explored why the language we use matters and how can we be more purposeful and aware of language, how we speak and listen, especially when seeking to better understand different ecosystems. 

Organised by leaders and artists, who are curious about how they can help create space where people feel safe, comfortable, and able to demonstrate vulnerability in service of creating more intimacy, understanding and collaborative opportunities.

This discussion followed a format called The Long Table.

The Long Table is a dinner party structured by etiquette, where conversation is the only course. The project ingeniously combines theatricality and models for public engagement. It is at once a stylised appropriation and an open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participation. Both of these elements – theatrical craft and political commitment – are mutually supporting in this widely and internationally toured work. The (often-feminised) domestic realm here becomes a stage for public thought.

The components are simple: the long table; chairs; a paper tablecloth; pens with which to make comments, to draw, or to scribble ideas. The final, and necessary, component is an etiquette sheet. This list of rules for engagement lays the groundwork for talk that is structured in its participatory aspect without being limited in content or access. The rules, or perhaps helpful hints, include items like ‘There can be silence’, ‘There might be awkwardness’ and ‘There can always be laughter’. The Long Table acknowledges the sometimes uncomfortable side of both private exchange and public engagement, while celebrating the potential for new forms of knowledge-making and -sharing.

The Long Table is inspired by Marleen Gorris’s film Antonia’s Line, in which the protagonist continually extends her dinner table to accommodate a growing community of outsiders and eccentrics until, finally, the table must be moved out of doors. The Long Table, then, brings what might often be seen as ‘outside’ in – to a realm of conviviality – while showing how everyday, domestic things which might usually remain hidden can be brought out – into a realm of public ideas and discourse.

The etiquette is as follows

This is a performance of a dinner party conversation 
Anyone seated at the table is a guest performer 
Anything is on the menu 
Talk is the only course 
No hostess will assist you 
It is a democracy 
To participate simply take an empty seat at the table 
If the table is full you can request a seat 
If you leave the table you can come back again and again 
Feel free to write your comments on the tablecloth 
There can be silence 
There might be awkwardness 
There could always be laughter 
There is an end but no conclusion

For more information visit 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - day 3

Wednesday, April 19

Morning hike up Tunnel Mountain

Workshop 3, Led By Sheri-D Wilson - STEPPING INTO YOUR POETRY WILD 

Faculty Studios, Individual Meetings - Buddy Wakefield, Tanya Evanson

Evening camp fire

A group of us decided to start the day with a morning hike up Tunnel Mountain, the mountain behind the Banff Centre. It was an ideal morning for this, although very icy at the top. 

We began Sheri-D's workshop by writing a number of characteristics about ourselves and then choosing the three most important to keep while throwing the others into the centre of the room. Sheri-D requested that we gather all of the pieces of paper and burn them in a camp fire. This would be an opportunity to let go of those associations and hold onto the three we wanted to keep.

We were given writing prompts and then had a limited period of time to write. We were then each asked to share our writing with the group, speaking it out loud. After hearing the piece once, Sheri-D gave us each an individual instruction to change the way in which we delivered the piece. Suggestions included

say it as though you were explaining something to a group of 5 year old children

saying it whilst rolling around on the floor

break it into syllables

spin and lengthen the words whilst spinning

run and speak the poem

read it as a goddess

say it as you would paint/sculpt it

say it from a different angle - you / I / we / he / they / she

Individual Meeting - Buddy Wakefield

Buddy made a couple of book and music recommendations for me to research

We spoke about giving the audience a way out after a hard-hitting bit of text. Is it enough to share an experience with an audience? To make someone feel less isolated? Or do they deserve to get a message of hope and something to ease the reader?

Individual Meeting - Tanya Evanson

Tanya and I spoke about the purpose of writing and spoken word and what I want to achieve through writing

Different possibilities include

exposing things that people don't know how to describe

exploring history

telling stories

We spoke about the techniques used by sound poets and concrete poets.

That evening the group made a camp fire and we had a little ceremony where the pieces of paper from Sheri-D's workshop were burned. 

Mitcholos shared this list of questions written by Nasra Adem, and we used them to prompt some very interesting discussions.

Is love present in your poem?
If you are choosing to speak aloud, the poem is no longer for you.
Who are you speaking to? Who is in the room?
Have you created space for joy?
For breath?
In unloading your trauma are you further traumatizing someone else?
Who is afforded the privilege of trigger warnings?
Who are you asking to make room for your feelings? Are you doing the same?
If the poems are prayers, who besides yourself are you praying for?
In what ways do our responsibilities as poets intersect with our responsibilities as humans? As craftspeople?
How often and readily and urgently are we thinking about accessibility in these spaces?
How deeply does our respect and consciousness of the stolen land we reside on seep in to our poems?
What does this acknowledgment look and feel and sound like in our bodies? In the way we share ourselves?
Elders, how do you pass on your gifts with out extinguishing your fire?
New/younger poets, how are you taking care of your coaches/elders? Are you willing to learn how to hold them? You may need them, but they are human and imperfect and exhausted.
Step up. Grow up. Share the load.
How do we continue towards creating "safer spaces" while understanding this world may not ever be safe for some of us?
When we ultimately fuck up, bad, who is there to call us in and help us grow? Are we open to this? Like for real?
Can we agree to do better for each other? And the poetry?