Couplets Episodes

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.

Episode 10: Catriona Wright & Erica McKeen

Thurs, June 29th, 6pm – 7pm | The ARTS Project, main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

Catriona Wright is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Toronto. Her poems have appeared in PRISM International, Prairie Fire, Rusty Toque, Lemon Hound, and Best Canadian Poetry 2015. She is the poetry editor at The Puritan and a co-founder of Desert Pets Press, a chapbook press. Her debut collection, Table Manners, is out this spring with Véhicule Press.

Carnal, flamboyant, visceral, and bold, Table Manners is a rich meal. Wright’s debut introduces us to the image of the poet as “gastronaut,” a figure who seems to live entirely between table and stove and who steeps her surroundings and relationships in complex emotional flavours. “My life,” she writes, “is now tuned to bone marrow donuts and chef gossip. I’m useless at any other frequency.” Wright’s wild narratives are sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, and always ravishingly observed. Table Manners is what might have emerged had Julia Child written like Sharon Olds, or if Anthony Bourdain knew his way around a line break.

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Erica McKeen is a storyteller, poet, and student living in London. She is a prose reader for Persephone’s Daughters, a literary journal focused on the abuse of women and healing through art. She is also an occasional writer for The Mighty, where she strings together articles on mental illness that she hopes will help someone, somewhere. In 2015, she won third in the Occasus Prize, and in 2016, her short story “Our Eyes, Our Tongue” won the Lillian Kroll Prize. Her work has appeared in Occasus Literary Journal, Minola Review, Shirley Magazine, The Quilliad, and elsewhere.

McKeen’s writing always bends toward the bizarre and horrific: she is enthralled with the topics of madness, psychological fear, isolation, and the mistreatment of women in literature.

Episode 9: Andy McGuire & Angie Quick

Thurs, May 25th, 6pm – 7pm | The ARTS Project, main gallery | 203 Dundas Street, London

Andy McGuire is the author of Country Club. He lives in Huron County.

Praise for Country Club

“An essential accompaniment to Armageddon.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“McGuire’s poetry challenges the traditional standard of delicate, understated harmony between a poem’s content and its form; instead it tries way too hard, breaks down, and refuses to give a shit.” —The Puritan

“Angry, yet charming, crassly educated and self-effacingly self-aggrandizing, Country Club is a balls-out, tits-up, what-the-fuck-are-we-all-doing-here romp through thirty-something ennui.” —Arc Poetry Magazine

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Angie Quick is known for her large oil paintings, which explore flesh in historical and contemporaneous manners. Her practice experiments with the nature of language and sensation within both visual and performative contexts. She has performed at Words Fest London and recorded with the band New Zebra Kid. She will be performing at Ocean of Silence: A Tribute to John Cage at Museum London this August.

Quick has recently participated in the group show Portraits, self and others (it’s complicated) at the McIntosh Gallery. Her upcoming solo show, In the future we will all be astronauts and abortion will be universally legal, opens May 23rd at The ARTS Project.