Artist bios for the 2012 Poetry Gabriola Festival

Vancouver's most famous (and only) accordion power trio, Fang plays its devastatingly exuberant word-and-song mash-ups on squeezebox, electric bass, and drums. Leader Barbara Adler’s lyrics are snapshot stories and one-liners, as written by your rattlesnake-mouthed, laugh-in-church-funny little sister. Quick-witted, irreverent, and surprisingly danceable, Fang is out to make you forget everything that polka has ever done to you.

photo of Barbara: Evil Patrick Shannon

Band shots: Tony Hoare

Joëlle Anthony is a native of Gabriola. Okay, okay: actually, she’s only been here four years, but she plans to stay. In her past life she was a professional actress and improviser, and now she is a writer who occasionally moonlights in the theatre. Joëlle is the author of two young-adult novels, and is excited to be performing pieces from her new collection of stories about women and baseball. She is happily married to photographer and musician Victor Anthony, who took her last name when they wed, and writes in a tiny cabin in the woods.

photo by Victor Anthony

Victor Anthony was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1952 and started using a Brownie camera as a young boy. He began serious study of photography in 1978 when he discovered the classic slice-of-life images coming out of the Magnum collective of photojournalists founded by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson. He and his wife Joëlle immigrated to Canada in 2007, settling on Gabriola. His first one-man show was held at Artworks in 2010, and last summer he led an interactive photography workshop in Poetry Gabriola’s new yurt.

photo by Victor Anthony

Whether performing at the Royal Albert Hall or some packed-past-capacity speakeasy, C.R. Avery is a unique, raw, and dynamic performer. A one-man-band for this generation, he has the rare ability to sing poetic verse while beatboxing, pounding the piano, and playing harmonica like a plot twist. And this lyrical dynamo plays well with others, too, making neo-beat chamber music with the Legal Tender String Quartet; rock ’n’ roll with the Special Interest Group; and high-octane wordplay with spoken-word trio Tons of Fun University.

George Bowering is a veteran poet and novelist who always wanted to be a sports writer specializing in baseball. So he writes baseball books in a literary way. There's a long poem titled Baseball; the baseball memoir and travel journal Baseball Love; a long prose poem called Yards; and most recently the alphabet book of short essays, Diamond Alphabet. Bowering fills his spare time by writing short stories that combine baseball and the supernatural. He grew up in baseball country in the Okanagan Valley, and currently resides in Vancouver with his polymath wife and co-editor Jean Baird.

photo by Max Weder

T.L. Cowan is a writer, performer, activist, and professor currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Primarily a cabaret artist, Cowan has performed internationally, published widely, and created several provocative audio and video recordings. During a decade on the Canadian prairies, she created The Twisted She Project, a collaborative, multimedia exploration of the comedy, horror, humiliation, and pleasures of contemporary queer femininity. Recently, Cowan has begun two new major projects. The first, GLITTERfesto, is a call to political performance based on the premise that “social justice is fabulous”; the second, Forgiving Medjugorje: The Reconciliation Cycle, offers intermedia observations about religion, nomadism, sex, and money. 

Dinah D has been swinging an upright bass around Canada for the past 10 years. With a stranger migratory path than a Canada goose, Dinah has been spotted from Bamfield, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, to Dildo, on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. Dinah D leads the six-piece Contraband Swingclub and is one of the co-founders of the hit children's entertainment band, the Kerplunks. For all her travels, however, she finds herself more and more excited to perform on home turf.

photo by Penny White

Drek Daa is a poet, singer, songwriter, performance artist, actor, playwright, arts organizer, psychologist, businessman, canoeist, alcoholic, and hippy. Achievements include completing an ESL course and a PhD, performing in soup kitchens and symphony halls, and working as a CBC radio columnist. Leonard Cohen once said “Drek Daa... is brilliant, funny and stunningly skillful”. Drek Daa keeps saying “I need to stop drinking so much”.

Since bursting onto the Halifax music scene in 2006, Tanya Davis has built an impressive and eclectic body of work. Over the course of three albums, one book of poetry, various video and radio productions, and numerous collaborative efforts, she has forged new ground in the realm of creative possibility. Her videopoem “How to be Alone”, made with filmmaker Andrea Dorfman, has had more than 3.5 million hits on YouTube since it went viral one year ago, attracting media and blogger attention, touring opportunities, and new fans the world over. As a performer, Davis’s literate songs, arresting energy, and skilful guitar playing never fail to impress discerning audiences.

A multilingual poet, spoken-word artist, singer, whirling dervish, and arts organizer, Montreal-born Tanya Evanson has published five poetry chapbooks and two spoken-word music CDs, The Memorists and Invisible World. Now resident in Vancouver, the creator of the award-winning videopoem “Almost Forgot My Bones” has also been featured in documentaries, anthologies, international recordings, and on national TV and radio. When Evanson isn’t touring internationally with music group Mercan Dede and others, her Mother Tongue Media organization produces art events that bridge disciplines and cultures.


photo by Temmuz Arsiray

Clever Trever’s mission is to inspire fun and laughter in as many people as possible. He dances, juggles, and plays odd tunes, sometimes even atop a unicycle! And his creativity doesn’t stop there: after learning to juggle hats, he took up the milliner’s art and now has a growing sideline in beautifully eccentric chapeaux. Clever Trever has performed all over North America, and hopes that his hats will enjoy an even wider circulation. He’s still a clown at heart, though: note that his first Poetry Festival appearance, in 2010, involved whipped cream, cherries, and a very special trombone. 

Adeena Karasick is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet, media artist, and author of seven books of poetry and poetic theory. The New York resident and St. John’s University professor has also made four videopoems, including the viral success "I Got a Crush on Osama".  All her work is rooted in an urban, Jewish, feminist aesthetic that continually challenges linguistic habits and the ways that meaning is produced. Karasick’s provocative, philosophically complex wordplay has created havoc for over 20 years.

photo by bill bissett

Catherine Kidd is a Montreal writer and performer. She is author of the novel Missing the Ark, the poetry collection Bipolar Bear, and the solo show Sea Peach. Her writing has appeared in P.E.N. International and The Journey Prize Anthology, while her voice may be heard in documentary narrations, air [meaning “airline”?] safety messages, and video games. A new solo performance, Hyena Subpoena, which features soundscapes and video installation, was launched in the fall of 2011.

Tim Lander has been reciting poetry on the street, in coffee houses, and at other public venues for years. He is always out in the open, offering his poems for sale in handcrafted chapbooks. Gentle, thoughtful, and articulate, this U.K.-born, Nanaimo-based writer has been an important presence on the West Coast poetry scene for several decades. His publications include Street Heart Poems, The Glass Book: Poems, and The Book of Prejudices.

Susan Musgrave has received awards in five different literary categories: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, personal essay, and children’s writing, and has also been recognized for her work as an editor. Musgrave teaches creative writing at U.B.C., and leads writing workshops all across the country. Her favourite comment on her role as instructor and mentor? “I gave up my ticket to see Bob Dylan so I could come to your workshop—and I had one of the best seats in the house, too.”

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

One of Canada’s leading Aboriginal writers, Gregory Scofield has earned both a national and international audience for his six collections of poetry.  Known for his unique and dynamic reading style, he blends oral storytelling, song, spoken word, and the Cree language. His maternal ancestry can be traced back to the Métis community of Kinosota, Manitoba, which was established in 1828 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Scofield’s most recent collection of poetry, Louis: The Heretic Poems, was released in the fall of 2011. He currently lives in Maple Ridge, B.C.

Jordan Scott is the author of Silt, which was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2006, and Blert, which explores the poetics of stuttering. The Vancouver-based writer’s work has also been the subject of an online interactive documentary commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada. His areas of poetic inquiry are speech disfluencies, interrogation, found archives, and decompositions.

Vancouver's new poetry alternative, the Wolf Mountain Poetry Collective specializes in experimental new works, written for the page but ready to jump onto the stage and tear into the crowd. These emerging artists are making poetry tough again, crafting readings focused on innovative writing and dynamic performance. All educators, the members of the Collective share a growing desire to connect with and inspire other young writers. Appearing at the festival will be Dave Kenny, Elyse Mitchell, Travis Woloshyn, Jessica Millikan, and Fred Nock.