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Held every year on March 21, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and creative expression.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first adopted the dedicated day in 1999 with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity.

In honour of World Poetry Day, some of OCAD U’s top creative writers have shared the poems that continue to inspire their own writing.  

The cover of the book alphabet.Associate Professor Catherine Black is the Chair of OCAD U’s Creative Writing program, which she helped to develop. Her writing practice includes prose poetry and other hybrid forms such as lyric essays and experimental fiction. Professor Black’s work interrogates the construction of memory, the intersections of imagination and reality, motherhood and artistic practice, and the dissociative aspects of grief, trauma and addiction. In 2019, her book of prose, Bewilderness was published by Guernica Editions. 

Recommendation 
alphabet (1981) by Inger Christensen  

A lament, a warning, an ode to the planet, alphabet is a long, sectioned poem underpinned by the Fibonacci sequence, also known as the Golden Ratio. The text emerges slowly as an elegy, a veiled forewarning of nuclear threat and climate catastrophe, but it unfurls as a nearly ecstatic chronicling of the beauty of the natural world. The scope of this poem is astonishing. It flits from macro to micro in a single stanza or a single line and speaks so directly to this moment in time.

The cover of Bless the Daughter

Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts & Science Ian Keteku is a poet, musician and journalist. Born in Calgary and raised by parents from Ghana, Keteku’s work follows the lineage of ancient African storytellers by paying homage to the past by revisiting lessons from previous generations. Keteku is a devout practitioner of Afrofuturism, a philosophy that projects the Black experience into a celestial, technological future. 

Recommendation 
Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems (2022) by Warsan Shire 

Warsan Shire is a celebrated Somali-British poet who is known for her collaboration with singer-songwriter Beyoncé on the album, Lemonade and the musical film Black Is King. Shire’s latest book of poetry Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head foregrounds themes of migration, womanhood, trauma and resilience. The poetry collection is inspired by the writer’s life as well as popular culture and news headlines.  
Cover of the book Black Markets

Interim Vice-President, Research & Innovation and Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Ashok Mathur is a South Asian (Indo-Canadian) cultural organizer, writer and visual artist. Dr. Mathur is the author of a volume of poetic prose titled, Loveruage; a dance in three parts (1994), a long poem titled The First White Black Man (2017) as well as three novels. A long-time advocate of critical race theory as it pertains to the postsecondary institution, he works continuously to address radical forms of equity and Indigenous knowledge in his creative and professional practices. 

Recommendation 
Black Markets, White Boyfriends, and Other Acts of Elision (1991) by Ian Iqbal Rashid  
The Heat Yesterday (1995) by Ian Iqbal Rashid  

Ian Iqbal Rashid is an eclectic writer who works in poetry as well as television. His poetry books, Black Markets, White Boyfriends, and Other Acts of Elision and The Heat Yesterday, are both wonderful examples of lives lived in the contexts of racialization and sexual identity, mediated by realities of class and urban living. Most recently, he has been critically acclaimed for his role on the writing team for the HBO serial Sort Of, demonstrating his versatility and range of writing. Rashid began his career in Toronto as an arts journalist, critic, curator and events programmer, particularly focused on South Asian diasporic, Muslim and LGBTQ2S+ cultural work.  

Rashid will be featured in an event this spring presented by SiteLines, a partnership between the Faculty of Art and the Office of Research & Innovation at OCAD University and the Canada Council for the Arts. The initiative promotes and supports the creative work of BIPOC artists and writers.

The cover of How She Read

Phoebe Wang is a Writing and Learning Consultant for English Language Learners for OCAD University’s Writing & Learning Centre. She is also a first-generation Chinese-Canadian writer who is currently the Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick. Her debut collection of poetry, Admission Requirements (2017) was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and nominated for the Trillium Book Award. Her most recent poetry collection Waking Occupations will be released later this month by Penguin Random House Canada.  

Recommendation 
How She Read: Poems (2019) by Chantal Gibson 

Chantal Gibson’s debut book of poetry, How She Read is a collection of textured and innovative writing that Wang recommends to any reader who feels limited or outraged by the violence rendered upon racialized bodies. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art and popular culture, this publications shows the insidious longevity of imperialist ideas and the ways in which they are embedded in everyday things including storybooks, coloured pencils, paintings and postage stamps. Gibson, who is based in Vancouver, is also a practicing visual artist. Her poetry brings in acts of mark-making and redaction. How She Read shows how acts of critique and resistance can be so creatively abundant. 

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OCAD U’s creative writers recommend their top poetry picks.
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The Mighty Pen speaker series welcomes poet and novelist Noor Naga for an online reading!

Date: Thursday, November 12, 2020
Time: 4pm-5:30
Where: Zoom
Free and Open to the Public 

Across a sea and an ocean, from a port city to a shoreline, Noor Naga shares her transcontinental and transformative work. Please join us for this online reading and conversation.  

About Noor Naga 
Noor Naga was born in Philadelphia, raised in Dubai, studied in Toronto and now lives in Alexandria. She is the winner of the 2017 Bronwen Wallace Award, the 2019 Disquiet Fiction Prize and the 2019 Graywolf Press Africa Prize. Her collection of poetry, Washes, Prays was with McClelland & Stewart published in 2020 and her debut novel American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit is forthcoming from Greywolf Press in 2022! 

About The Mighty Pen 
The Mighty Pen amplifies the stories and experiences of racialized and underrepresented writers and creators. Facilitated by Phoebe Wang in the Writing & Learning Centre, this year The Mighty Pen invites guest writers and artists who self-identify as BIPOC to share their unique gifts with the OCAD University community through workshops and public events. 

The Mighty Pen Speaker Series is presented by the Writing & Learning Centre (WLC). It has been made possible by funding from the Ontario Post-Secondary Access and Inclusion Program (OPAIP). 

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Zoom
Email
ell@ocadu.ca
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The Mighty Pen Speaker Series welcomes novelist and poet Noor Naga for an online reading.

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The Mighty Pen Speaker Series #2
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The Mighty Pen Speaker Series welcomes
Janice Jo Lee, spoken word poet & singer

Date:
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Time:
Q&A and Screening, 5:30pm-7pm

You are invited to the latest instalment of the Mighty Pen Speaker Series. This edition includes a BIPOC student-focused workshop on artistic vision followed by a Q&A with Janice Jo Lee, performances by student poets and an online screening of Lee’s docu-musical, The Legend of Sing Hey.

Q&A and Online Film Screening | 5:30pm-7pm | Zoom
In the docu-musical The Legend of Sing Hey, poet, musician and educator Janice Jo Lee embarks from Southwestern Ontario on a tour and road trip thatconnects her with artists, activists, friends and community members who inspire with their art-making and experiences of resilience. Her ancestor songs may inspire your own journeys!

View the film here.
Join the event on Zoom here.

Also part of this series...
BIPOC Student Workshop | 4pm-5pm | Teams
Developing Artistic Vision, Led by Janice Jo Lee
Join us for a creative development workshop for BIPOC students focused on the topic of artistic vision where we will ask: What is my purpose as an artist? and How can I make time and space for art in the rest of my life realistically? Together, with facilitator Janice Jo Lee, we will move through our self-judgement and ego. You will leave with a draft of your artist statement.

Register here.
Join the workshop via Teams here.

About Janice Jo Lee
Janice Jo Lee is a folk-soul singer-songwriter, spoken word poet, actor and playwright of Korean ancestry, from Kitchener, Ontario. As a hard femme queer radical she is interested in using art to build communities based in justice and joy.

About The Mighty Pen   
The Mighty Pen amplifies the stories and experiences of racialized and underrepresented writers and creators. Facilitated by Phoebe Wang in the Writing & Learning Centre, this year The Mighty Pen invites guest writers and artists who self-identify as BIPOC to share their unique gifts with the OCAD University community through workshops and public events. The Mighty Pen Speaker Series is presented by the Writing & Learning Centre (WLC). It has been made possible by funding from the Ontario Post-Secondary Access and Inclusion Program (OPAIP).

Learn more about the Mighty Pen here.

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Free
Email
ell@ocadu.ca
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The OCAD U Poetry Society presents our first poetry slam. This event will determine the team that represents OCAD U at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) at Virginia Commonwealth University (April 15 to 18, 2020).

Interested poets would need 3 poems each under 3 minutes. 

To register and for more information please email ocadupoetrysociety@gmail.com

ABOUT OCAD U POETRY SOCIETY: The OCAD U Poetry Society is a collective of students from all backgrounds and writing levels who gather to discuss, collaborate and experiment with poetic forms. They facilitate workshops, performances and outings. The Society is also responsible for creating and facilitating the OCAD U Poetry Slam Team which will compete at The College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), an annual Poetry Slam tournament put on by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) in which teams of four or five college students from different colleges and universities compete against each other in the United States. The society is mentored by Professors Ian Keteku and Lillian Allen.

LEARN MORE ABOUT STUDENT GROUPS: https://www.ocadu.ca/services/campus-life/student-groups.htm

Cost
Free
Email
ocadupoetrysociety@gmail.com
Website
https://www.ocadu.ca/services/campus-life/student-groups.htm
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Learning Zone, 113 McCaul Street (or access via 122 St. Patrick Street), Level 1
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Bewilderness by Catherine Black, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdiscipinary Studies, at Guernica Editions’ Fall Launch. 

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Supermarket, 268 Augusta Avenue

3:30 P.M. -6:00 P.M.

Gary Barwin writes, “In Bewilderness, each item in the notebook of everything is connected by an invisible thread to each other thing. Catherine Black weaves her poems with these threads, connecting the luminosity, resonance and being of the everyday, its complex web of perceptions and emotions with evocative sensory and conceptual allure. We are “bewildered” in that everything, even the familiar, is newly discovered, wild to possibility, observation and poetry. As the book reads our world, we read this book: with eyes wild open.”

Cost
Free Admission
Website
https://facebook.com/events/554692925276070/
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Venue & Address
Supermarket, 268 Augusta Avenue
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Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award-winning poet SONNET L’ABBE returns with her third collection in which a mixed-race woman decomposes her inheritance of Shakespeare by breaking open the sonnet and inventing an entirely new poetic form. Join us for the Toronto launch of Sonnet’s Shakespeare with special guest readers.

This reading and book launch is supported by the OCAD University Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies, the OCAD University Creative Writing Program, the League of Canadian Poets, and Penguin Random House Canada.

Books sold by A Different Booklist.

This is a free public event in a fully accessible venue.

Cost
FREE
Email
folas@ocadu.ca
Website
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/564193/sonnets-shakespeare-by-sonnet-labbe/9780771073090
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Venue & Address
OCAD University, 100 McCaul St., Room 270, The Great Hall
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Book cover on a pink background. White text reads Sonnet's Shakespeare on black background,
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CECILY NICHOLSON AND JULIANE OKOT BITEK WITH LILLIAN ALLEN:FORGETTING, REMEMBERING

Saturday April 6, 2019, 2 pm

Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario

West Coast-based poets and friends, Cecily Nicholson and Juliane Okot Bitek will be joined by Toronto’s Lillian Allen (OCADU) in a conversation about cross-cultural memory and collective amnesia. The authors, whose work has contemplated these themes, will think through the poem as a document of memory: considering what poetry can add to existing narrow histories, and the role of memory in building resilient futures.

Juliane Okot Bitek ’s work has been published widely online, in print and in literary magazines. Her work has been recently anthologized in New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent; Transition: Writing Black Canadas; Great Black North; Contemporary African Canadian Poetry; and Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them. Juliane’s 100 Days (University of Alberta 201) is a poetic response to the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Inspired by the photographs of Wangechi Mutu, Juliane wrote a poem a day for a hundred days and posted them on her website and on social media. The book won the 2017 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award for Poetry and the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. Other recent poetry awards include the 2017 National Magazine Awards for which Migrations: Salt Stories was shortlisted and the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize for which Gauntlet was longlisted.

On Musqueam-, Squamish-, and Tsleil-Waututh- land, Cecily Nicholson has worked in the downtown eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver since 2000 — most recently as Administrator of the artist-run centre, Gallery Gachet. A part of the Joint Effort prison abolitionist group and a member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Cecily is the newly appointed Interpretive Programmer at the Surrey Art Gallery. She is the author of TriageFrom the Poplars, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and Wayside Sang, 2018 winner of the Governor General's award for poetry.

Lillian Allen is a Jamaican-Canadian professor of creative writing at OCAD University, Toronto. Multi-disciplinary and experimental, Allen’s creativity crosses many genres including radio, theatre, music and film. As a two-time JUNO Award winner (Revolutionary Tea Party, a Ms. Magazine Landmark Album Conditions Critical) and trailblazer in the field of spoken word and dub poetry, Allen artistically explores the aesthetics of old and new sounds in music to create her distinctive brand of Canadian reggae. Allen’s debut book of poetry, Rhythm An’ Hardtimes became a Canadian bestseller, and she has held the post of Writer-in-Residence at Canada’s Queen’s University and University of Windsor. Founder of the Toronto International Dub Poetry Festival and a variety of cultural organizations such as Fresh Arts that empower youth, Allen has spent over three decades writing, publishing, performing and doing workshop presentations of her work to audiences around the globe.

This event is organized in-part by the first-year Criticism and Curatorial masters students of OCAD U.

Jackman Hall is accessible.

Cost
FREE
Email
ecadotte@faculty.ocadu.ca
Website
http://ago.ca/events/cecily-nicholson-and-juliane-okot-bitek-lillian-allen-forgetting-remembering
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Venue & Address
Jackman Hall
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St W, Toronto
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