Canada Speaks 2010

In 2009 the Poetry Gabriola Society commissioned twelve literary performance artists from across Canada to create new works that will premiere at the 7th Annual Poetry Gabriola Festival in November of 2010. The project is called Canada Speaks: New Literary Performance Works by 12 Canadian Artists, and is funded through an award from Arts Partners in Creative Development (APCD).

The assignment was wide open. The artists were given four months to develop a new work, 20 minutes in length, with no restrictions on form or content. It was entirely up to the artists what they chose to compose. In addition to a draft of a completed written script, the artists were asked to write a report on their rehearsal processes. These ranged from a completely private process, to working with a director, to creating workshops. Five of the artists cited public rehearsals, such as trying parts of the work out at a local open-mic venue, as being integral to their process. By documenting process, we are beginning to pick up insights - such as the need for public rehearsal -  into how spoken-word artists are developing this emerging genre. 

The resulting texts from Canada Speaks are amazing. When they were finally printed and assembled into a manuscript form it became apparent at once that the collected work is far greater than the sum of its parts. The collection is an anthology of contemporary Canadian literary performance. Once we see the works on stage, we will decide as a group what to do with the complete written script. In the meantime, excerpts will be published in Poetry Gabriola's online magazine, CORVUS. The performances will be presented across Canada in 2010 and 2011.

This project is the first major commission of spoken-word artists in Canada, and has galvanized a community of senior level artists that stretches across the country. We our proud that our small, rural organization has created a national initiative that will impact artists across the country and influence the direction of an emerging genre. We are grateful for the support of Arts Partners in Creative Development for making this project possible. For more information on APCD and a list of sponsored projects, please visit


Meet The Artists

Fortner Anderson, Montreal
David Bateman, Vancouver/Toronto
bill bissett, Vancouver and Toronto
Ivan Coyote, Vancouver
Drek Daa, Winnipeg
Ian Ferrier, Montreal
Kaie Kellough, Montreal
Cheryl l'Hirondelle, Vancouver
Evalyn Parry, Toronto
Robert Priest, Toronto
Richard Van Camp, Vancouver/Ft Smith, NWT
Sheri-D Wilson, Calgary


Letters to Gabriola

Each of the artists has performed on Gabriola Island before, and has had a chance to form a special connection with the place and the audience here.  Every month for the 12 months preceding the 2010 festival, the Gabriola Sounder is featuring a letter from one of the artists to Gabriola Island. The letters will also be posted, as an expanding collection, here:

December: David Bateman-- Mother As Muse


February: Sheri-D Wilson--Valentine's Day

March: Kaie Kellough--A Barnacle on Gabriola's Shore

April: Richard Van Camp--Letter to Gabriola

May: Robert Priest--The Roxy

June: Ivan Coyote--The First Time I Heard Of You

July: bill bissett--Mattr

August: Cheryl L'Hirondelle--Driving Across The Prairies

September: Evalyn Parry--Migration


APCD supports B.C. organizations in creating and developing original works in the performing and studio arts. Some will reach audiences locally, while others will be presented across Canada and abroad. APCD is funded by the Province of British Columbia, Canada Council for the Arts, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) and 2010 Legacies Now. For a list of APCD-funded projects and information on Arts Partners in Creative Development, please visit

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