Episode 17: Jim Johnstone & Megan Arnold

A special Couplets / Tingfest* crossover event!

Thurs, April 26th, 6pm – 7pm | TAP (The ARTS Project), main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

Jim Johnstone is a Toronto-based poet, editor, and critic. He’s the author of four previous books of poetry—Dog Ear (Véhicule, 2014), Sunday, the locusts (Tightrope, 2011), Patternicity (Nightwood Editions, 2010), and The Velocity of Escape (Guernica, 2008)—and the subject of the critical monograph Proofs & Equational Love: The Poetry of Jim Johnstone by Shane Neilson and Jason Guriel. He’s also the winner of several awards, including a CBC Literary Award, The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, and Poetry’s Editors Prize for Book Reviewing. Currently, Johnstone curates the Anstruther Books imprint at Palimpsest Press and is an associate editor at Representative Poetry Online.

Praised for its darkly psychological accounts of extreme experiences, Jim Johnstone’s fifth book of poems, The Chemical Life, explores his most difficult terrain to date: mental illness and addiction. Like Coleridge’s opium dreams, Johnstone’s narratives are hallucinatory, coloured by his use of both prescription and recreational drugs. Returning often to the notion of rival realities—“in everything, there is a second state”—Johnstone is brilliantly disruptive and disorientating; a poet whose savagely austere forms, electrically precise images, and keyed-up rhythms reveal an obsession with the mind-altering properties of language itself.

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Megan Arnold (b. 1993, Calgary, AB) is a multifaceted human being best known for her work as Megan Arnold (cartoonist), Shhh (minimal electronic mope pop musician), and Crybaby Kiki (drag fag). Significant achievements include winning the title of prom queen in 2011, graduating with a BFA from Western University in 2015, and participating in the April 2018 installment of the Couplets collaborative poetry series.

The Nihilist Dog Walks Away From Home Demo is both a standalone minicomic and a teaser for the forthcoming Nihilist Dog Walks Away From Home, the first full-length comic from writer/artist duo Maverick Summers and Megan Arnold.

*Celebrating its fifth year, the Ting Comic & Graphic Arts Festival (Tingfest) is a three-week festival presented by The ARTS Project, from April 17 to May 5. Named after London’s famed editorial cartoonist Merle ‘Ting’ Tingley, Tingfest honours his work while showcasing today’s comic and graphic artists from across Southwestern Ontario. Tingfest centres around an art exhibition and free programming, providing a unique forum for artists to share their latest work and engage with the community.


Episode 16: E Martin Nolan & Michelle Brown

Thurs, March 29th, 6pm – 7pm | TAP (The ARTS Project), main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

E Martin Nolan is a poet, essayist, and editor from Detroit. He edits interviews at The Puritanwhere he’s also published numerous essays, interviews, and blog posts. His long, illustrated poem about Donald Trump, “Great Again,” can be found at greatagainpoem.com. His non-fiction writing focuses on literature, sports, and music. His first book of poems, Still Point, was published with Invisible Publishing in fall of 2017.

Still Point examines North America as unified whole and disrupted centre, contrasting the calm and tumult of Hurricane Katrina, the deconstruction of Detroit, the financial crisis of 2008, and the BP Gulf oil spill and weaving lyrical sequences and individual pieces into a coherent whole focused on humanity’s relationship to itself and to nature. Still Point tells a story of beauty and horror and how normalcy stubbornly persists amid history’s arc.

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Originally from Victoria, BC, Michelle Brown lives in Toronto with her husband and three-legged dog, Bo. Previously shortlisted for CV2’s Young Buck Poetry Prize and longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, Safe Words (Palimpsest Press, 2018) is her first full-length collection.

From a student’s confrontation with a teenage streaker to a company man’s complete undoing at his summer party, Michelle Brown’s Safe Words finds rich darkness in happy partnerships. A maiden name is “handed down / like a sweater,” a taxi ride “ends… at someone else’s life.” Played against a backdrop of pop culture, late-night swagger, and vivid imaginary landscapes, Safe Words is the rare poetic debut that delivers passion and control, wielding humour and empathy in equal parts.

Episode 15: Penn Kemp & Marta Croll-Baehre

Thurs, Nov 23rd, 8pm – 9pm | 42 Adelaide (upper) studio, gallery, & event space | 42 Adelaide St N (upper unit), London

*Please note the special time and location for this Couplets event:


Penn Kemp is the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist, was London’s inaugural Poet Laureate, and has been the Writer-in-Residence at Western, where her project was the DVD Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action (Pendas Productions). Her recent works include a celebration of Eldon House’s Teresa Harris, the poetry collection Barbaric Cultural Practice, and two anthologies edited for the League’s Feminist Caucus Living Archives series—the latest being Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets. Her forthcoming poetry book, Local Heroes, will be published by Insomniac Press in 2018. Follow Penn Kemp on Twitter and on Facebook.

Performing Women: Playwrights and Performance Poets is an anthology of six essays by prominent Canadian women playwrights and performance poets. The contributors explore dramatic personal experiences of their work in performance. The anthology expands the possibilities of performing to include ritual and visual references as well as the resonance of sound. Essays include Cornelia Hoogland’s “Red Dresses Hang from the Trees and Towers,” Penn Kemp’s “Sounding the depth, the surface resounding,” and Sheri-D Wilson’s “Spoken Word Poetry as Political Act.”

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Marta Croll-Baehre, a Newfoundland-born poet, is completing her Honours Specialization in English at the University of Western Ontario. Her poetic affiliations include the late April Rabbit Poetry Reading, the Tangle Collaborative Arts Event, and Poetry London. Her latest work, titled Limit Al Lives and co-written with Emma Croll-Baehre, probes the relationship between liminal bodies and topographical, ideological, and cultural borderlands.

Episode 14: Blair Trewartha & Leah Kuiack

Thurs, Oct 26th, 6pm – 7pm | The ARTS Project, main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

Blair Trewartha is the author of two chapbooks: Break In (Cactus Press, 2010) and Porcupine Burning (Baseline Press, 2012). His poetry has appeared in Carousel, Prism, Event, Existere, and Contemporary Verse 2. Currently residing in London, Blair is an active member of Poetry London and an editor for Anstruther Press. His debut full-length collection of poetry, Easy Fix (Palimpsest Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the 2015 ReLit award, and his poem “Breach” received honourable mention in Arc’s 2016 Poem of the Year contest.

Part rural conduit, part urban primer for the disenfranchised, Easy Fix explores cultural identity with both scepticism and compassion. It’s this symbiosis that distinguishes Trewartha’s poetry and leads his forward in “an entire world with its ducks in a row.” Although he eschews easy answers, Trewartha remains honest and complicit, providing respite for the troubling obsessions that inform our lives. Easy Fix is a sharp, stylish, and sophisticated poetic debut by one of Canada’s best young poets.

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Leah Kuiack is a London native. A full-time student at Western University, she’s in her second year of an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing and English. Her writing has appeared in the Teen Ink print magazine and multiple times on the Teen Ink website. She recently won the Life of Words poetry competition, and her winning poem was published in the Life of Words Anthology 2016. You can find more of her writing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Episode 13: Shane Neilson & Emma Croll-Baehre

Thurs, Sept 21st, 6pm – 7pm | The ARTS Project, main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

Shane Neilson is a poet, physician, and critic from New Brunswick who currently lives in Oakville, ON, with his family. He is completing his PhD in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster, where he researches representations of pain. Dysphoria, the final entry in his trilogy on affect, was published by Porcupine’s Quill in March. He often writes about matters pertaining to dis/ability.

“Wracked, paranoid and calling on Percy Sledge, Rita Charon, Mad Max, and the Reverend Jim Jones, Dysphoria’s long title poem is a lament set in a hospital isolation room. Howling for love and freedom, a man is straightjacketed by the relentless policing of self, other, and mental illness. […] Here, and throughout Neilson’s poetry, we see involution, a turning of narrative tables. Nothing is clear-cut: who and what to trust, or how to move through the unknown.” —Ally Fleming, CMJA

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Emma Croll-Baehre is a Newfoundland-born poet who is currently completing her Honours Specialization in English Literature at the University of Western Ontario. Her poetic affiliations span from the late April Rabbit Poetry Reading (of Western Newfoundland) to Poetry London. Her latest work, Limit Al Lives, co-written with her sister, Marta Croll-Baehre, explores liminal lives in relation to psychic/physical borderlands.

Episode 12: David Stones & Ryan Gibbs

Thurs, Aug 24th, 6pm – 7pm | The ARTS Project, main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

David Stones is a retired business executive taking a deep breath as a poet, performer, and spoken word artist. David published his first book of poetry, Infinite Sequels, in 2013 and subsequently transformed it into a highly successful one-man show of the same name. His second poetry collection, Such A Frail Book Of Endings, and a chapbook, On Turning Into Raymond Souster, both hit the streets later this year. David lives, writes, and performs in—and generally wanders about—both Stratford and Toronto.

Employing a range of poetic forms and undulations of mood and tempo, Stones’ poetry explores the full spectrum of human possibility. At once tender, raw, reassuring and unflinching, his work both tears and heals. No theme is too small, no observation too inconsequential, to escape the discerning eye and keen wit of this singular poetic voice. From love to anguish, from reprisal to forgiveness, from joy to sorrow, Stones casts a unique and understandably frail beam of illumination on the joyous, too-often pitted landscape of human experience.

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Ryan Gibbs lives in London and is pursuing a PhD at Western. He works as an English professor and coordinator at Lambton College in nearby Sarnia, where he is a member of the After-Hours Poets and has read his poetry in the City Council as part of the nation-wide Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge. His poems have appeared in Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and the anthologies Under the Mulberry Tree and Whisky Sour City. His children’s poetry has been included in the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness.

Episode 11: John B Lee & Julie Berry

Thurs, July 27th, 6pm – 7pm | The ARTS Project, main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

John B. Lee is the author of over seventy books and the editor of seven anthologies, including two best-selling works, That Sign of Perfection (poems and stories on hockey) and Smaller Than God: Words of Spiritual Longing. He has published internationally in more than 500 publications, has seen his work translated into French, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese, and has read his work across the globe, including in France, Cuba, Korea, and South Africa. He has received over eighty prestigious international and regional awards for his writing, including the People’s Poetry Award (twice), the CBC Literary Award for Poetry, the Winston Collins Prize for Best Canadian Poem (twice), and the inaugural Souwesto/Orison Award for his contribution to the ethos of writing in southwestern Ontario. He has been named the Poet Laureate of Brantford in perpetuity (2005), an Honourary Life Member of The Canadian Poetry Association and The Ontario Poetry Society (2005), a member of the Chancellor’s Circle of McMaster University’s President’s Club (2007), the Poet Laureate of Norfolk County (2011), and the Honourary Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life (2015). He has received letters of praise from Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Australian poet Les Murray, and Senator Romeo Dallaire and has been called “the greatest living poet in English” by poet George Whipple. He lives in Port Dover, Ontario, where he works as a full time author.

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Julie Berry has deep roots in southwestern Ontario, with at least three generations of her ancestors calling this part of the world home. After a long career as an elementary school teacher in St. Thomas, she has continued to write and publish her work and produce a children’s radio show for a local radio station. She has published three poetry collections: worn thresholds (Brick), the walnut-cracking machine (Buschek), and most recently, the chapbook, I am, &c.: The Gilbert White Poems (Baseline Press). She has expanded this chapbook on the 18th century naturalist Gilbert White, author of The Natural History of Selborne, into a full-length poetry collection. Her poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Grain, Malahat Review, The Literary Review of Canada, and many other publications and has been featured, along with the poetry of her grade 6 students, on the award-winning CBC program The Poetry of the Woods.