What The Poets Are Doing

October and November, 2020

Elizabeth Jenkins at An Afternoon of Spoken Word & Poetry #1, October 24 at The Theatre on King.

Part of Artsweek SHIFT: Downtown, What The Poets Are Doing is a series of public and private readings by local poets and spoken word artists..

Curatorial Statement

This group of poets represents a lot that is right with Peterborough’s burgeoning poetry scene today. These are poets with varying levels of experience in writing and performance, from different social or cultural groups, and who write in a wide range of styles and themes. They are involved in community publishing, teaching, and the dissemination of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction and take pride in helping other writers grow their work.

By inviting this particular group to participate in Artsweek SHIFT during a global pandemic, it was my intention to shine a much-needed light on local poets who continue to work and write despite the growing barriers to doing so, directly improving their communities through provoking thought and sharing ideas. As the pandemic continues to leave working artists in ever-more precarious positions, it is crucial for audiences to hear what poets such as these have to say, as they labour to elucidate the various and vast hardships and obstacles currently faced by working artists. These readings are like a masterclass in what is happening to working local writers: personal and collective trauma, intersectionality, racism, local poverty, privilege, climate change, and politics. They also speak to the other things that matter: space, friendship, camping, family, and superheroes.

I am honoured to provide a space for such knowledgeable and talented poets in various venues downtown, where most of these poets work, write, live, and experience our city.


Events

An Afternoon of Spoken Word & Poetry #2

Date: November 7, 2020

Time: 15:00 - 17:00

Location: The Theatre on King

Join us for an afternoon of spoken word and poetry by local artists presented ‘en plein air’ outdoors in the heart of Peterborough’s downtown.

Featured artists: KATHERINE HEIGH, JUSTIN MILLION, SHAUN PHUAH, AND NICK TAYLOR.

This event is presented FREE of charge.

Bring your own chair!

*Please note* This is a COVID-compliant event. Masks must be worn by audience members at all times during the event.

This event is part of Downtown, an Artsweek SHIFT project curated by Justin Million, which will include a mix of poetry, spoken word, and visual arts events. Watch for announcements about more events, coming soon

Private Reading Giveaway

Start date: October 28, 2020 - End date: November 4, 2020

Location: Online

As part of Artsweek SHIFT: DOWNTOWN, you could WIN one of two private, intimate reading featuring local poets and spoken artists Jon Hedderwick, Elizabeth Jenkins, Justin Million, and Ziysah.

These readings can take place either
(a) in-person outdoors (either at your home or an available outdoor public space of your choosing); or
(b) digitally over Zoom.

Artsweek SHIFT will provide the poetry, and you can pick the guest list.

Open to residents of the City of Peterborough only.

Click to enter the giveaway.

An Afternoon of Spoken Word & Poetry

Date: October 24, 2020

Time: 15:00 - 17:00

Location: The Theatre on King

Join us for an afternoon of spoken word and poetry by local artists presented ‘en plein air’ outdoors in the heart of Peterborough’s downtown.

This is the first event in DOWNTOWN, an Artsweek SHIFT project curated by Justin Million, which will include a mix of poetry, spoken word, and visual arts events. Watch for announcements about more events, coming soon.

Featured artists: JON HEDDERWICK, ELIZABETH JENKINS, JUSTIN MILLION, and ZIYSAH.

This event is presented FREE of charge.

Bring your own chair!

*Please note* This is a COVID-compliant event. Masks must be worn by audience members at all times during the event.

Artist Bios

Jon Hedderwick is a spoken word poet, storyteller, mixed-media producer, organizer and educator of mixed Ashkenazi Jewish and Scottish heritage living in the territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinabek in Nogojiwanong – Peterborough, Ontario. He performs, organizes, and mentors emerging poets as the current Artistic Director for the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective. He is one half of the spoken word duo WordCraft, a collaboration undertaken with the poet Saleem Ansari. He is also, along with the poet Ziy von B, one the creators and lead artists of the Take-out Poetry Project, a mobile bicycle cart serving-up made-to-order poems in public spaces. In his poetry, Hedderwick reaches with words for those things that we feel just beyond the scope of language in the hopes of giving emotional content to abstract political ideas and concepts. He explores themes that include mental health, systemic inequality, labour, poverty, anti-Semitism and more recently the overlapping tensions and overt contradictions that arise when attempting to connect to colonized land in a global climate crisis, as a means of surviving in and resisting late capitalism.

In his role with the Peterborough Poetry Slam, Jon served as the Festival Director for the 2017 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. He has also been a performing member of four Peterborough Poetry Slam Teams and was the 2016 Peterborough Grand Slam Champion. In recent years, his performance poetry has been featured at The Words Aloud Poetry Festival, the Storytellers of Canada National Conference, and at the inaugural Saskatoon Poetic Arts Festival. He has been featured with slam series across Canada including as part of the WordCraft Campfire Stories Virtual Tour (2020), which due to Covid-19, involved live-streaming from around the campfire in remote Ontario locations for virtual spoken word shows hosted by poetry slam series from Saskatoon to Victoria.

Between 2016 and 2018, Hedderwick worked as the lead producer on the film Pushback with Free Food Films, a feature length documentary following individuals who have been persistently homeless in Peterborough. He was also the producer and host of the show Blank Pages, Pens and Stages at Trent Radio between 2018 and 2020. In 2019, Jon was also the artist in residence at Trent Radio as part of the Precarious 2 Artswork Festival. During this residency Jon composed a multi-media spoken word performance called (un)Certainty and he designed and directed the festival’s Youth Spoken Word Mentorship project called Speak, Scribe, Share. He has produced a series of cinepoems, an EP entitled “The Whisper Sessions”(2019), and four chapbooks of Poetry: Walking to Work in a Snowstorm (2103); Haiku (2015); Apricity (2016) and Crow (2017). Hedderwick is currently working on his first full-length, one-person play entitled “Enkidu”. In addition to his work as an artist, he works as a youth employment counsellor. When not at his desk, Jon spends as much time as he can tending to his gardens and wandering through the forest with his family looking for stones, feathers, wild edibles and other wonderous things.

Katherine Heigh-Roper is a writer, academic, and amateur painter from Peterborough, Ontario who has written two chapbooks, PTBO NSA (bird buried press) and To The People Who Used to Live Here (Gap Riot Press). She was the 2015 recipient of the P.K. Page Poetry Prize. Appearing in various print and online publications, her work is informed by her experiences as a working-class, bisexual woman with chronic illnesses. (Photo by Ricardo Bandala.)

Elizabeth Jenkins is a poet, journalist, spoken word artist and activist based in Peterborough, Ontario. She stepped onto the stage for the first time in 2016 and has enjoyed her time competing and preforming in the local and national spoken word scenes. Her work strives to find beauty in the broken by embracing the hard edges. Elizabeth explores personal traumas, love and her Belizean heritage in her work and uses her particular experiences to shed light on the state experience of race, gender and class struggles in Canada. Through her work, she attempts to invite the audience to share in her catharsis.

Elizabeth performed as a member of the Peterborough Poetry Slam Team in Winnipeg, Manitoba and assisted in bringing Peterborough to the fourth spot in the national rankings. She also competed in the individual slam championships in Vancouver and made the final stage two years in a row, placing fifth in Canada in 2018. Elizabeth worked as artist liaison for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, when it was hosted in Peterborough; has organized successful artistic dinners and shows with the Soul Buffet. Elizabeth is currently an organizer with the Peterborough Poetry collective and helps to run a monthly show. She has been blessed to be a contributor to Electric City Magazine and done work with Black Lives Matter Peterborough. Elizabeth Jenkins has also performed at EC3 events.

Justin Million is a print and digital media poet, a performance artist, the founder of the Show and Tell Poetry Series, a co-founder and poetry editor at bird, buried press, and is the author of EJECTA: The Uncollected KEYBOARDS! Poems (Apt. 9 Press). He lives and writes in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario.
Shaun Phuah is a writer from Malaysia, dreaming occasionally, and writing surrealism. (Photo by Ricardo Bandala.)
Nick Taylor is a word-wranglin’ cowboy who runs Trent’s wild, wild student press – Arthur Newspaper. When he’s not writing editorials or poems, Nick is either roller-skating, smoking something, or admiring his reflection. (Photo by Ricardo Bandala.)

ziysah is a parent, poet, community cultivator, and unsettled settler who works to connect us to our imaginations, our responsibilities, and each other. As a wordsmith and poetry slam champ, ze has performed and facilitated workshops across Turtle Island, and is co-founder of Take-Out Poetry. ziysah’s writing has appeared in various magazines and anthologies as well as in their self-published collections, Hineini, Ayd, and consents+/=/- severances. ziysah is grateful to queer, genderqueer, activist and Jewish communities and ancestries that give their life meaning, and to the Indigenous Elders, teachers, friends, and more-than-human life who have profoundly re-shaped their worldview. ziysah is grateful to live in Nogojiwanong on Michi Saagiig Anishinaabe territory.

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