Artist bios for the 2010 Poetry Gabriola Festival

Fortner Anderson looks like he is from the American Midwest, which he is. In fact, he looks like a clergyman, which partly explains why he is known in spoken-word circles around the continent as The Deacon. Prophet, oracle, and soothsayer, Fortner Anderson is the Minister of Mayhem and the Pastor of Pandemonium. Join The Deacon at Poetry Gabriola on Friday for his Sunday service.

Novelist, actor, Tintin impersonator, and collector of handbags, Joëlle Anthony is the creator of Gabriola’s longest-running improvised performance, Sunday Soup. A rising star in the world of young-adult fiction, Joëlle is receiving international attention for her debut novel, Restoring Harmony (Putnam/Penguin 2010). She and her husband Victor are currently collaborating on avoiding real jobs, writing and playing guitar in front of the woodstove, and living happily ever after.

Photo: Victor Anthony

When not colluding with his wife, Joëlle, on la dolce vita, Victor Anthony can be found giving free community workshops in bicycle mechanics. If he’s not doing that he’s likely packing out the Roxy with another sold-out show. Victor’s music combines highly original, image-packed vignettes with the roots and blues traditions of the American South. Musicologist, ace photographer, and founder of the ukulele hotline, Victor is identified on the Gabriola culture map as a local treasure. 

Photo: Victor Anthony

Dr. David Bateman is a scholar of 20th-century theatre history and one of Canada’s most highly regarded performance artists. His most recent productions, A Brief History of White Virgins or The Night Freddy Kissed Me and What’s It Like?  were presented in Vancouver, Peterborough, Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto in 2009. Onstage he presents an ingenious combination of artless virtue and cultivated cynicism.  Shrewd, wise, understated, and fearless, David Bateman is a very dangerous artist. 

Photo: Greg Manuel

A pioneer of sound, visual, and performance poetry, bill bissett has been writing, chanting, channeling, transmitting, singing, and celebrating his particular oeuvre for more than 50 years. Few serious literary performers today remain uninfluenced by his distinctive sound stylings and unique orthography. With more than 70 books of poetry to his credit, bill is a luminary who continues to extend the boundaries of language, dancing upon the cutting edge of both poetics and performance.

Photo: Tracey Kollenchuk

Distinguished folk musician and Stringband founder Bob Bossin is known for an illustrious career that includes a dozen albums, and songs covered by Pete Seeger, Valdy, and Ian Tyson. But as a spoken-word artist, his star may be on the rise. Based on a book he is writing, Bob is developing a set of story-songs about his father’s life in the gambling business in 1930s Toronto. The pieces we’ve heard so far are gorgeous, and we can’t wait for the rest.

Photo: Rick Bockner

As a boy, Christopher Butterfield sang in the King’s College Choir in Cambridge, U.K. He has since amassed an impressive resume of international commissions including string quartets, chamber works, operas, and the most invigorating of avant-garde compositions. A professor of music at the University of Victoria, Christopher is an inventor, an experimenter, a quick wit, a font of esoterica, a humorist of the highest order, and a devotee of very smelly cheese. Being near him makes one smarter. 

Photo: Julian Butterfield

An habitué of Gabriola cultural events, Charlotte Cameron can be observed at readings, performances, concerts, art openings, and happenings everywhere. Charlotte’s plays No Gun For Annie and Running: The Alex Decoteau Story (1887-1917) first premiered at the Edmonton Fringe in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Running was subsequently remounted for Edmonton’s 100th birthday celebration in 2004. Charlotte has become obsessed with Malcolm Lowry since moving to Gabriola.

Photo: Tom Cameron

Ivan Coyote is a superlative performer as well as an award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CDs, and four short films. Born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Ivan has toured her work from Anchorage to Amsterdam, thrilling audiences of all stripes. Tough but sentimental, Ivan’s quirky narratives combine unexpected plot twists with the unpolished truth, homespun humour, and perfect delivery of a crackerjack storyteller.

Photo: Zoe Black

Dinah D is a stand-up gal with a stand-up bass.  When not touring across Canada or accepting Juno nominations, Dinah can be heard – and seen – plying her strings from Silva Bay to Berry Point in a variety of guises.  A fine musician and spinner of yarns, Dinah D is frontwoman to both theContraband Swingclub and the Martini Foursome. She has also earned a huge fan-base of little bass fanatics as co-founder of the hit children’s band, The Kerplunks.

Photo: Penny White

What do you get when you cross a psychotherapist with an award-winning poet, songwriter, and CBC Radio personality? Seriously, you get funnyman Drek Daa. Ten years after arriving in Canada from Poland and enrolling in his first ESL course, Drek began writing in English and soon stormed onto the slam-poetry scene to capture numerous honours. Drek is charming and very clever, and Poetry Gabriola feels both blessed and relieved to have a psychiatrist in residence for the festival. 

Photo: Drek Daa


Literary-performance artists are a noisy lot, a deliciously talkative bunch. It is gratifying, then, to discover Ian Ferrier’s rare, whispering delivery amid the hubbub. A driving force both nationally and in his home city of Montreal, Ian is a writer, musician, recording artist, and producer. His performances are a haunting blend of acoustic guitar and the quiet, compelling voice at the centre of every piece. A favorite, Ian slows down the poem and allows us a chance to listen.

Photo: Ian Woo

Gabriola’s multi-talented Tina Jones is at home wherever she finds herself, and that might be playing her own songs solo, leading a big band, or performing for hundreds of youngsters with the hit kid’s music sensation, The Kerplunks. Whether on stage or in the recording studio, she has a rare gift - the ability to connect with her audience. From astonishing vocal performances to adept improvisations on horns and piano, Tina continues to amaze her many fans from coast to coast.

Photo: Penny White

A writer, editor, dub poet, and sound experimenter, Kaie Kellough is a true independent. He defies classification, self-describing as a “word-sound systemizer”. Fascinated with the phenomena of orality, Kaie has genuine curiosity about the relationships between voice, sound, text, and music. In performance, his bebop-inflected riffs press against the constructs of rhythm and rhyme. Stylized and highly structured, they reflect back a kind of cool, loose sadness and beauty. 

Photo: Kaie Kellough

Nimble of mind and gangly of body, Bill Levity is an accomplished impresario, writer, and musician. He has toured shows on Vancouver Island for two decades in various human and superhuman incarnations. Bill’s performance style fuses an absurdly energetic physicality with incisive political commentary and wacky wordplay. He’s a wildman, a tenacious arts activist, and a heck of a good guy. Already closely allied with the Duncan Garage Showroom, we’re glad to see Bill snuggling up to Poetry Gabriola.

Photo: Andrew Wilson

When we asked Cheryl L’Hirondelle if she wanted to present a performance piece inside a tiny sleeping cabin, she immediately asked “Can I put my tent up inside?” This response is typical of Cheryl: she’ll always push an idea one step further than the most improbable suggestion. Never still, always interesting, her creative practice is an investigation of a Cree worldview (nêhiyawin) that constantly crosses genre boundaries between music, storytelling, performance art, theatre, installation, and new media. 

Photo: Nadya Kwandibens

Whether surveying the red clay hills of Prince Edward Island, the boreal forest of northern Ontario, or her own lush homestead on Pender Island, Mae Moore is always able to transform landscape into stunningly evocative song. Constantly changing song, too. Mae’s records have ranged from the trip-hop textures of 1992’s Bohemia to the 100-percent-organic fabrics of Oh My!, a recent collaboration with husband and gardening partner Lester Quitzau. Mae’s got a new album in the works, and we’re all eager to hear where she’s headed next.

When Kimm Nightingale gets behind a project, we can guarantee there is going to be trouble. Fortunately, it’s the kind of trouble that Poetry Gabriola finds irresistible. Kimm and her pals, Lynn van Herwaarden, Regina Lorek, and Joke Mensink, have taken on the formidable task of counting the possibilities that lie within the veils of a cast-off wedding dress. This project remains mysterious, but we have been led to believe it will include elements borrowed from line-dancing and surfing. Here comes the bride(s).

Photo: Joke Mensink

Evalyn Parry is a magician; she has mastered the act of transformation. She has turned a social commentary on transportation at the end of oil into a feminist history lesson (see her hit show, SPIN). She has turned a bicycle into a musical instrument, and she is constantly transforming herself, effortlessly moving between and combining forms, to become what you least expect. Musician, spoken-word practitioner, theatre artist, and bicycle advocate, Evalyn Parry is astonishing in all of her guises.

Photo: Kai Wa Yapp

hilary peachHilary Peach is an audio poet, recording artist, arts activist and producer. She has performed in many venues, from the Vancouver International Writers Festival to the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She has created two CDs and is working on a third, to be released in 2011, called Dictionary of Snakes. The new show, of the same name, is a true collaboration between Hilary and a number of other artists, including musicians Alexander Varty and Victor Anthony, who will be performing the new work with her at the festival this November. Hilary Peach is the BC – representative for the League of Canadian Poets and has been inventing the Poetry Gabriola Festival since 2003. 

Photo: Penny White

Known to CBC listeners as Wordbeat’s Dr Poetry, Robert Priest is as lovable as he is controversial. His notoriety manifests in ways that are truly bizarre: from his use of the word weenie being debated in the Ontario legislature, to inclusions in The Farmer’s Almanac, to songs featured on both Sesame Street and MuchMusic. Widely credited as an aphorist, commentator, folk-funk musician, and love poet, Robert fearlessly continues to push the frontiers of art, politics, and social order.

Shelagh Rogers is a veteran broadcast-journalist. She has hosted flagship programs for the CBC, including This Morning and Sounds Like Canada. In 2000, she won the John Drainie Award, Canada's highest broadcasting honour. She is a Champion of Mental Health, the winner of the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit and holds an honourary doctorate from the University of Western Ontario. The NCSA has honoured her with an award for her work in reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. She is also a proud member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 45, Woody Point, NL. She is currently host of Canada's national book program "The Next Chapter" on CBC Radio, and Ambassador at Large for the Canadian Canoe Museum.

Richard Van Camp is a highly accomplished author of poetry, adult fiction, children’s books, and comics. Constantly on the move, Richard performs at festivals and conferences worldwide, teaches across Canada, and spends a good deal of time in the North. “I’m harder to reach,” a recent email told us, “I’m in Pangnirtung.” His ability to exist in a state of perpetual motion may be what keeps Richard’s work so dynamic. Whatever the reason, we are thrilled he is touching down on Gabriola. 

A longtime member and associate of Poetry Gabriola, Naomi Beth Wakan continues to astonish with her tremendous artistic output. Writer, painter, quilter, and collector of quotes, she is bursting with energy. As well as pursuing her own projects, Naomi has coordinated Haiku Gabriola, an international haiku gathering on the island, for nine years. An avid gardener and community organizer, Naomi is renowned for her poetry workshops. Don’t miss her haiku class Sunday, November 7.

Photo: Victor Anthony

Founder of the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival and the spoken-word program at Banff, Sheri-D Wilson ranks as one of the country’s literary performance stars. A prolific writer with seven books of poetry, two CDs, and four award-winning video-poems to her credit, she continues to tease and please audiences from coast to coast. Sheri-D regrets being unable to attend this year’s festival, but has sent a new video-poem, with love and best wishes for an auspicious weekend, in her stead.