Festival 2009 - Events


This is an archive of the 2009 Poetry Gabriola Festival.

Some of the links on this page will not work, due to the information conflicting with current festival info, like ticket sales.

2009 Festival Artist Bios

Thanks to our supporters

Festival photos in our gallery.

NOVEMBER 12 - 15, 2009

We did it again – another fabulous festival!! Spoken word folks, storytellers, and performance artists are nomads and orphans. We practice outside of institutions, are without a grand, national headquarters, have no dedicated schools. We rove, we land, we fly, we install ourselves where we happen to be, or where we can get a gig. We travel light. Our set, props, costumes, and tech requirements can usually fit in one suitcase, and sometimes we carry instruments. We bring ourselves to the work, the work to the audience, our art to each other, and we move on.

How great it was to have a real home for the four days of the 2009 Poetry Gabriola Festival! Usually the festival roves all over the island – that nomadic instinct kicking in. But this year we set up at theSurf Lodge and were blessed with a theatre space, a reception room and wine bar, a dining room, the late night pub venue for our open mics, all in one place – the 1930’s heritage resort called the Surf Lodge. For the festival weekend there was a sense of the place belonging to the poets, who were all able to take deep breaths, and deliver their best work. It was a phenomenal weekend, the result of many folk in the Poetry Gabriola family working hard to put it together. If you didn’t make it in person you can still have a taste of the festival in pictures. Please go to our gallery and take a look at the beautiful photographs by Victor Anthony, Don Denton, and Penny White. 

festival 2009 posterWelcome to the 6th Annual Poetry Gabriola Festival, a wild, West Coast celebration of literary performance. For four days thez Surf Lodge will be filled to the rafters with poets, musicians, storytellers, sound artists, and other special guests including an etiquette specialist and a whirling dervish! Enjoy an off beat weekend of unconventional performance, remarkable readings, Round Table talks, and captivating Workshops.

schedule | tickets | bios | getting here | thanks


Advance tickets can be purchased; some performances will likely sell out.

Thursday, November 12


Opening Night Reception

Join us for wine and cheese in the Fireplace Room at the Surf to celebrate Opening Night!

7:30 pm


Suitcase Local and Pat Braden

Suitcase Local is a folk opera created by Hilary Peach, Andreas Kahre, and Alexander Varty as a touring show in 2006. This spoken-word and music fusion is a spooky, ironic retelling of Peach’s experiences working as a Canadian welder in the construction and maintenance of power plants south of the border. Since the release of the CD of the same name earlier this year, we figured it was time to bring this show out on Gabriola. The poetic narrative and original score weave blues, abstract soundscapes, and West African riffs into an eerie and beautiful portrait of place.

Pat Braden is a Yellowknife-based singer, songwriter, and storyteller who caught our attention this year. We heard he was mesmerizing audiences across the country with his haunting melodies, poignant memoirs, and unique style, and we had to invite him to Gabriola. Blending spoken word, song, and musical textures on the Chapman Stick, “Pat creates inroads—made personal and accessible—which hauntingly attach to you for months. With the skill of a gypsy who weaves magic and draws you in until he decides to let you go, an evening with Pat Braden, his songs and his stories, is something to experience and be transformed by.” (Ben Nind, artistic director of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre)


Friday, November 13


Wine Bar Open in the Fireplace Room



Evalyn Parry and Sheila Norgate
Hosted by guest poet Tanya Evanson

Gifted with a sharp pen, a quirky musical sensibility, and a wicked sense of humour, musician, spoken-word artist, and ironic social commentator Evalyn Parry “breathes new life into the folk tradition with her politics, passion and poetry”. (Penguin Eggs)

One minute she's singing a ridiculously cheery countrified number about her stalker ex-girlfriend; the next, she's performing a powerful spoken-word piece about the “bottled water scam” and its devastating environmental consequences. Moments later, she gives the audience goose-bumps with a poignant true story song about old sailors, cancer, and visiting the watery grave of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the 29th anniversary of its sinking. She rounds out the set with a hilarious song written from the perspective of a maxi-pad.

Visual artist, author, and feminist Sheila Norgate returns with her performative slideshow More Timeless Tips for Girls Who Have Let Themselves Go, which features further crucial counsel for women who have allowed their beauty standards to drop lower than the TSX. Why should allegedly more important matters—such as leading a simpler, more meaningful life—stand between you and the rewards of always doing the right thing? Just because you have gone back to the land doesn’t mean you have to look and act the part. Don’t let another festive season pass you by without the proper social underpinnings of this important teaching.




Saturday, November 14

10:30am – 12 noon

Workshop #1: Yoga For Writers with Wanda Collins Johnson at Island of Peace Yoga

12 Noon – 1pm

Launch Lunch Special at the Surf Pub

1pm – 2pm

Reading #1: One Sweet Ride

You’ve seen them around the festival, and now Easy Writers, Vancouver Island’s most dynamic performance poetry collective, invites you on stage and through the pages of their new book, One Sweet Ride. It promises to be quite a trip through poetry, storytelling, monologues, and satire. It’s entertaining, poignant, and FUN! Join the poets for lunch before the reading at the Surf Pub.

1pm – 2pm

Workshop #2: Chapman Stick with Pat Braden at the Roxy

2pm – 3pm

Reading #2: Haiku and Tanka

The haiku girls are here again! Winona Baker, the world-famous haiku writer, is joined by Gabriola poet Naomi Beth Wakan, author of Haiku: One Breath Poetry and My Haiku Family. Winona and Naomi will speak about haiku and its origins in tanka poetry, and will let you hear some of their best-loved haiku and tanka. During the session you might find yourself writing along in a workshop interlude. Let their poetry catch you in the moment—the moment which they caught, and wrote about.

3pm – 4pm

Round Table: Self-Scripted Women

Join femmes fatale Sheila Norgate, Evalyn Parry, and Hilary Peach in a conversation about the challenges faced by women artists who present their own work. Why do we work in two or more forms at the same time? Logistically, how do we go about creating material? How is the writing process different from rehearsing? Please bring your questions and answers to this hour of girltalk.

4pm – 5pm

Reading #3: Island Gals

Two favorite Island poets, Gabriolan K. Louise Vincent, author of The Discipline of Undressing and Hannah and the Holy Fire, and award-winning Vancouver Island poet Marilyn Bowering read from their work.


Wine Bar Open in the Fireplace Room



If your mother is anything like my mother, this is the one night of the festival she will hate. However, if your mother is into avant-garde art and new, unusual, and groundbreaking performance of the highest calibre, this is the night she will love. Christian Bök is known for creating artificial languages for television shows as well as for his virtuoso performances of sound poetry. Live, he is a gem. Paul Dutton is an original member of the legendary Four Horsemen poetry-performance quartet of the 1970s and ’80s, and is internationally renowned for his literary and musical performances. Alexis O’Hara is an extraordinarily interesting interdisciplinary artist from Montreal who works with technology, including voice-modifying electronics. We are very pleased to have these three outstanding artists join us for this unusual evening.




Sunday November 15

10:30am – 12 noon

Workshop #3: Rumi and Sema Sufi Poetry and Turning by whirling dervish Tanya Evanson at Island of Peace Yoga

12 Noon – 1pm

Launch Lunch Special at the Surf Pub

1pm – 2pm

Reading #4: 10 Poets from the Rocksalt Anthology

Ten BC Poets will read from the new anthology by Mother Tongue Publishing, ROCKSALT: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry. Edited by Mona Fertig and Harold Rhenisch, this dynamic and groundbreaking collection is the first anthology of contemporary BC poetry in 31 years. Join the poets for lunch before the reading at the Surf Pub.

2pm – 3pm

Reading #5: Novelty of the Novel

Gabriola novelists George Szanto and Sandy Duncan team up for an afternoon reading of their individual works as well as their jointly authored, much-lauded mystery, Never Sleep With A Suspect On Gabriola Island.

3pm – 4pm

Round Table: Sounds Like

Alexis O’Hara, Christian Bök, and Paul Dutton discuss what has led them out of standard narrative and into the cacophonic hubbub of sound. What causes artists to make departures from language as we know it? How do these artists understand the relationships between form and content, improvisation and scripted scores? Bring your questions to the table; we want to hear what you sound like.

3pm – 4pm

Workshop #4: READING with Naomi Wakan at the Commons

4pm – 5pm

Reading # 5: Reading the Classics

From classic poems - Shakespeare to Dame Edith Sitwell - a look at how rhythm and rhyme create atmosphere. And some not so classic limericks! Join Antony Holland for this rare, special presentation.


Wine Bar Open in the Fireplace Room


Radio After Dark and The Fugitives
Hosted by guest poet Drek Daa

Poetry Gabriola 2009 will see the premiere of Workshop Meltdown by Radio After Dark, a quirky, insightful and irreverent romp behind the scenes of a small west-coast community as it prepares for its first-ever poetry festival. Featuring a cast of gloriously dysfunctional characters who meander, tiptoe, and storm their way to the zenith of literary celebrations, this imaginative production places its fingers gently on the pulse of poetic politics and squeezes tightly. With Bill Miner, Tina Jones, Kathy McIntyre, and Antonio Gradanti.

Formed four years ago on Vancouver’s East Side, The Fugitives have taken their instruments and words on numerous trips through Canada and Europe. Performances that began in abandoned bank vaults and small vegetarian restaurants in England have turned into mainstage appearances on the Canadian folk-festival circuit and sold out headlining shows at venues as diverse as the Vienna Literary Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the Vancouver Jazz Festival, and the Chutzpah Dance Festival. Like most young bands The Fugitives have weathered poverty, missed trains while honing their live act into a versatile mix of story and song. As the CBC has it, “whether you go for the poetry, the music, or both, this show is simply brilliant.” The Fugitives include Brendan McLeod, Adrian Glynn, and Barbara Adler.



Location: Workshops will NOT take place at the Surf Lodge, but at Island of Peace Yoga, the Roxy, and the Commons. Please note locations below.

Cost: Workshops are $10 each. To Register: call 250-247-7604 or email info@poetrygabriola.com


Saturday November 14, 2009

10am – 12 noon
Island Of Peace Yoga Studio

Workshop #1: Yoga For Writers with Wanda Collins Johnson

This gentle workshop is suitable for everyone, whether or not you currently practice yoga. Come as you are: no special clothing or equipment is required. Explore yoga poses and breathing techniques as practical tools for energizing your body and releasing tensions during a typical day of sitting and writing. Learn several yoga poses (asana) help you focus your intentions, fire up your imagination, create breakthroughs in your writing, and relax your body.

2pm – 3pm
The Roxy

Workshop # 2: Chapman Stick with Pat Braden

Yellowknife musician and storyteller Pat Braden offers an intimate look at his writing and performance tools—which include the Chapman Stick, an innovative 10-string device that combines aspects of the electric guitar, the electric bass, and keyboard instruments. Pat will introduce himself and his instrument by playing a couple of pieces and talking about how he balances the musical and spoken-word components of his work. There will be time for questions, and an open discussion about songwriting and performance technique. You don't have to be a Chapman Stick player to join in this workshop with Pat and friends at the Roxy.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

10am – 12 noon
Island of Peace Yoga Studio

Workshop #3: Rumi and Sema: Sufi Poetry And Turning with Whirling Dervish Tanya Evanson

This workshop includes a performance of Tanya Evanson’s poetry composed in the spirit of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the 13th-century Persian mystic, poet, and philosopher; followed by a talk and introductory workshop on Sema, the moving meditation of the Whirling Dervishes, of which Rumi was the first. People should be prepared for ecstatic air and ecstatic body. Comfortable clothing and good socks would be helpful. Warning: some may leave slightly drunk.

3pm – 4pm
At The Commons

Workshop #4: READING with Naomi Beth Wakan

Where would writers be without readers? In this workshop, avid readers take centre stage as we explore why we read, what we read, how we read, and when and where we read. Take a fresh look at reading in preparation for a great fall and winter revelling in books. A fun workshop, where readers count.

Naomi Beth Wakan —author of over 30 books, including Late Bloomer: on writing later in life and Compositions: notes on the written word—is herself an obsessive reader.

supported by:

heritage canadacanada council

poetry gabriolabc arts council   bc