Couplets Episodes

Episode 8: Tom Cull & Erik Mandawe

Friday, April 28th, 7:30pm – 8:30pm @ 211 King Street (2nd floor), London

Tom Cull grew up in Huron County and now resides in London, where he teaches creative writing and serves as the city’s current Poet Laureate. Tom’s work has appeared in The New Quarterly and Word Hoard and is forthcoming in The Rusty Toque. His poems have been anthologized in Translating Horses (Baseline Press), 150 Stories (Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario), and a forthcoming MSU Press collection dedicated to water protection and social justice. His chapbook, What the Badger Said, was published in 2013 by Baseline Press, and his first book of poems, Bad Animals, will be published by Insomniac Press in Spring of 2018. Since 2012, Tom has been the director of Thames River Rally, a grassroots environmental group that he co-founded with his partner, Miriam Love, and their son, Emmett.

What The Badger Saw is Cull’s first book but these are seasoned poems. […He] has the Mark Twang story-teller in him. These all too few narrative poems are page turning marvels.” —Michael Dennis, Today’s Book of Poetry


Erik Mandawe is a proud urban First Nation man. While he grew up in Toronto, his family is from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in northeastern Alberta. He is Wolf Clan, and his traditional Cree name, Piyesiwak, translates to Thunder. He holds a Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Toronto, where he studied world Indigenous and western forms of medicine and their application to health and wellness in Indigenous communities. Erik has travelled internationally to complete research in socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology in Siberia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands. He is also an experienced professional actor and musician, having filmed with actors and musicians such as Jean Claude Van Damme, Susan Aglukark, and Drake.

Episode 7: Jason Dickson & Kevin Heslop

Thursday, December 8th, 7:30pm – 8:30pm @ 211 King Street (2nd floor), London

Jason Dickson is a writer and bookseller from London, Ontario. He has three titles published by BookThug. His work has appeared in Quill and Quire, Geist, Maine Antiques Digest, Kotaku, Rue Morgue, Canadian Notes and Queries, Fine Books and Collections, and Open Letter. He co-owns Brown and Dickson with his partner-in-crime Vanessa Brown.

Dickson will be the featured reader at the London Open Mic Poetry Night on May 3rd, 2017. Visit the the LOMPN website for a recent interview with Dickson on his 2006 postcard novel, The Hunt.


Kevin Heslop is a poet and student from London, Ontario. His work has appeared in NOON: journal of the short poem, Forget Magazine, The Finger, Occasus Literary Journal, Translating Horses (Baseline Press), and Another London (Harmonia Press) and won the Poetry London’s Poetry Contest and the Occasus Poetry Prize in 2015. He studies English literature at the University of Western Ontario and interviews local writers for London Poetry Open Mic.

Episode 6: Madeline Bassnett & Kevin Shaw

Friday, October 28th, 7:30pm – 8:30pm @ 211 King Street (2nd floor), London

Madeline Bassnett is the author of two chapbooks: Elegies (Frog Hollow, 2011) and Pilgrimage (Baseline, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Grain, The New Quarterly, Riddle Fence, The Fiddlehead, and The Malahat Review. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Western University.

“Bassnett’s most significant accomplishment in this collection is her technical mastery of the interplay between syntax, line, and stanza. …[H]er sentences both weave across line breaks and stretch over stanza breaks to create complex patterns of tension and resolution. …[I]t’s like watching a close tennis match, though one with perhaps more at stake. …Elegies is characterized by a technical virtuosity that allows the poems to carry the reverberations of loss that echo through a person’s quotidian existence. They alert us to the unexpected resonances that crop up in the wake of a loved one’s passing.” —Sue Sinclair, The Fiddlehead

Bassnett was the featured reader at the London Open Mic Poetry Night on October 7th, 2015. Visit the London Open Mic Poetry website to read an interview with Bassnett and three of her poems from Elegies. (Credit for Bassnett’s author photo, below, goes to Debra Franke.)


Kevin Shaw is from London, ON. His poems and nonfiction have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in Contemporary Verse 2, Grain, The Fiddlehead, and The New Quarterly. His essays have been nominated for the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize (twice) and the Event Nonfiction Contest. He won Arc Poetry Magazine‘s 2015 Poem of the Year award and the 2016 PRISM International Poetry Contest. He’s currently a PhD candidate in English at Western University, where he researches censorship law and queer poetics in English-Canadian writing.

Shaw’s PRISM Poetry Contest-winning “The Flood of ’37” (pictured above) appears in PRISM 54:4.

Episode 5: Christine Thorpe & Brittany Renaud

Tuesday, October 4th, 7pm – 8:30pm @ 211 King Street, London.

Christine Thorpe, a native of Penticton, BC, is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Carleton University. Before settling on English Literature as a field of study, she studied biology, followed by mathematics and computer science. Since moving to London, she has joined the organizing committee of Poetry London and retired from the workaday life. Thorpe’s books include A Rind of Sun and Tendered Arms (both collaborations with her partner, James Wood), as well as, most recently, the chapbook Survival Strategies.

Tendered Arms (Manifold Books, 2011) is addressed to “those who feel in each bright stream, the pull of an underground river.” Willing readers are drawn from personal crossroads into subtly strange lands where skies may truly be falling, where anger’s either flaming or repressed, violence covert or confessed. Here one encounters a poet adept at forensic arts, a girl styled in ferocity and a Vespa-riding demon, as well as chorusing coyotes, mendacious mothers and the “god of a certain blue.” Christine Thorpe and James Wood, accomplished in their respective crafts, manage a synergy in which Thorpe’s elegant poetry is both leavened and deepened by Wood’s fine drawings. Together they are indeed “blessed with balance.”

Thorpe was the featured reader at the London Open Mic Poetry Night on March 6, 2013. On the London Open Mic Poetry website, you can read an interview with Thorpe and eight of her poems, including four from Tendered Arms.


Brittany Renaud recently graduated from Western University with her Honours Bachelor of Art and hopes to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing in the next year. Renaud has published poetry in Occasus and the anthology Another London, and she aspires to write poetry and prose that is both accessible and thought-provoking. She’s currently working on a collection of poetry about Algonquin Park and family.




Episode 4: Laurence Hutchman & Andy Verboom

Friday, August 26th, 6:30pm – 7:30pm @ Chapters (South), 1037 Wellington Road, London.

Laurence Hutchman grew up in Emery and attended Gulfstream Public School and Emery Collegiate Institute. He received his PhD at the Université de Montreal in 1988. He has taught at a number of universities, including Concordia University, the University of Alberta, Western University, and The Université de Moncton, where was a professor for twenty-three years. Hutchman has published ten books of poetry, co-edited Coastlines: The Poetry of Atlantic Canada, and edited a book of interviews, In the Writers’ Words: Conversations with Eight Canadian Poets. He has received numerous grants and won awards including the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick’s (WFNB) prize for individual poems and, in 2007, the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence. He has served as Representative of Quebec and New Brunswick/PEI for the League of Canadian Poets and as President of the WFNB. Hutchman has given many readings and conducted numerous workshops in Canada, the United States, China, Ireland, and Bulgaria. He lives with his partner, the painter and poet Eva Kolacz-Hutchman, in Oakville.

On Personal Encounters: “Laurence Hutchman could as easily have called this new gathering of splendid poems “Homage”…. These poems illuminate for the reader all the things that Hutchman values in his life—poetry, music and art, his family, his soul mate and their love for one another. Hutchman pays homage to the writers, artists, and musicians who have shaped his world, from Mahler to Van Gogh to Rilke and Souster. From a poem for Louis Dudek, Hutchman writes, “snowflakes are words / each shaped like so many different lives.” Hutchman’s love of and commitment to his art of shaping words is masterfully articulated in the poems of Personal Encounters.” —Glen Sorestad, first Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan

Hutchman was the co-featured reader (with Penn Kemp) at the London Open Mic Poetry Night on April 16, 2014. On the London Open Mic Poetry website, you can read an interview with Hutchman (about his formative years, influences, and communities) along with five of his poems.


Andy Verboom hails from sub-rural Nova Scotia and currently resides in London, where he edits the Word Hoard and—full disclosure—organizes Couplets, this very reading series. His poetry has appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, Arc Poetry MagazineBafterC, Descant, The Puritan, and the anthology 300 Hours a Minute: Poems about YouTube Videos. He has been shortlisted for Arc’s Poem of the Year and has won the Winston Collins Prize for Best Canadian Poem. His debut chapbook, Tower, was released by Anstruther Press in July. His and David Huebert’s collaborative chapbook, Full Mondegreens, recently won Frog Hollow Press’s Chapbook Contest.

Tower tracks the private flight paths, associative ley lines, and secret lead pipes that connect four cities: Toronto and Halifax, Canada; Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. If “place is / alchemical projection”—the transmutation of space’s base distances and toxic proximities into glittering skylines—then Verboom is an anti-alchemist. These poems stir travelogue, doggerel, mythography, concrete poetry, ekphrasis, and self-incrimination into a cauldron simmering over the apocalypse.

Episode 3: Monika Lee & Shelly Harder

Friday, July 29th, 6:30pm – 7:30pm @ Chapters (South), 1037 Wellington Road, London.

Monika Lee is a Canadian writer and literary scholar awarded an Ontario Arts Council grant for poetry in 2010. Her collection Gravity loves the body was published by South Western Ontario Poetry Press (2008) and her chapbook slender threads appeared from EBIP and the Canadian Poetry Association (2004). She has published poems in dozens of literary journals and anthologies, including Canadian Literature, Vallum, Scrivener Creative Review, Windsor Review, Dalhousie Review, Nashwaak Review, Harpweaver, A Room of One’s Own, Event, Atlantis, Fiddlehead, Antigonish Review, Ariel, Quills, Qwerty, Ascent, and Grub Street Literary Magazine. Monika graduated with distinction from the Humber College School for Writers in 2008. Her play “The Petting Zoo” was performed as part of the Playwrights Cabaret at the McManus Theatre. She’s also published a book of literary criticism, Rousseau’s Impact on Shelley: Figuring the Written Self (1999), and scholarly articles on Shelley, nineteenth-century literature, Canadian literature, and creative writing. A full professor in the English Department at Brescia University College, she teaches nineteenth-century British literature, creative writing, and other courses in English literature.

gravity loves the body… offers us rich, tactile images of a woman, mother, and lover: ‘[w]e are the petals of one flower.’ Lee never strays into easy summary or sentimentality. She refuses to hide behind language or obscure literary allusions. …Along with her, we nurse a baby in the bath, visit Marrakech, and lose a mother to death. Her humor, wit, and unflinching view make us trust her, and want to live in the richness of this book as long as possible.” —Emily Wall, Canadian Literature

Lee was the featured reader at the London Open Mic Poetry Night on June 4th, 2014. On the London Open Mic Poetry website, you can read an interview with Lee and four of her poems.


Shelly Harder is a poet, teacher, gardener, student of literature, occasional tickler of piano keys, and dabbler in philosophy. Some of her work may be found at

skin to skin is a collaborative text documenting our reading for Couplets. After juxtaposing and splicing together selections from our work during an evening of poetic improvisationthis conversation became a poem which was caught in paper and ink. Some of the poems stand whole, but they are diversely shadowed and tinted by coming into each other’s light. Others are grafted with lines we chose from each other’s work. The title piece merges two previously unacquainted poems, which immediately interlocked. These interweaving lines and poems form counterpoints from which new and surprising harmonies have coalesced.” —Monika Lee and Shelly Harder


Monika and Shelly were combatants from the start.

Excerpts from Monika and Shelly’s collaborative chapbook, skin to skin.

Episode 2: Andreas Gripp & Koral Scott

Friday, June 24th, 6:30pm – 7:30pm @ Chapters (South), 1037 Wellington Road, London.

Andreas Gripp is the author of 21 books of poetry, including Selected Poems 2000 – 2016 (Harmonia Press). His book Anathema was shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos Award for Peoples Poetry in 2010. He presently works at the Goodwill Bookstore and lives in London with his wife Carrie Lee and their two cats.

Selected Poems 2000 – 2016 is a single-volume compilation of Gripp’s poetry gleaned from his trilogy of books Anathema, Perennial, and Apocrypha, as well as new work penned in the past year. Writing in accessible and rhythmic verse, Gripp deals with past love and a new marriage as well as themes of urban life, nature and spirituality, often using an assortment of fictional characters and events based on authentic happenings.

Gripp was the featured reader at the very first London Open Mic Poetry Night on October 3rd, 2012. He was featured again on March 2nd, 2016. On the London Open Mic Poetry website, you can read a career-spanning interview with Gripp.


Koral Scott is originally from Brantford. She holds an Honours degree in English from Western University, organizes and promotes London Open Mic Poetry events, and has edited for The Rusty Toque. Her poetry has appeared in Conpareo.

As one in a quartet of young poets writing out of Western University, Scott was a featured reader at London Open Mic Poetry Night on February 5th, 2014.


looking stage right IG
Koral & Andreas demonstrate their synchronization.
Another Day in Life
Andreas & Koral’s flagship collaborative poem.