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Literary / Spoken Word

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CommUNITY feeling

CommUNITY Spoken Word Series launches new season at Alderney Landing October 5

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Michael Fisher during Prismatic Arts Week at Alderney Landing
  • Michael Fisher during Prismatic Arts Week at Alderney Landing

Prismatic Arts Society and CommUNITY Spoken Word Series have made it official. No more furtive glances across the room, the two are on the books as a pair. Earlier this year the groups announced that CommUNITY’s programming would be delivered by Prismatic Arts Society and hosted at the Alderney Landing Cultural Community Centre.

On October 5, (7pm, Alderney Landing) the 2013/2014 season of CommUNITY will launch at their new home. Titled “100 Candles. 10 Poets. 1 Mic" the launch features 10 spoken word artists (Shauntay Grant, Desiree Adams, Mary Lavers, Michael Fisher, Randy Henderson, Shahib Simp Gillard, Dominique Oliver-Dares, hermitofthewoods, Habiba Cooper Diallo and Verena Rizg) along with accompaniment by musician Matt Myer (Gypsophilia). Although the launch night doesn’t have an open mic or slam component, every show for the upcoming season will, along with featured local and national performers.  

CommUNITY founder Shauntay Grant has worked with Prismatic Arts Society before, curating the spoken word component of the Prismatic Arts Festival since 2010, so the merge was a no brainer. “They have high standards of excellence and we’ve worked well in the past,” says Grant. Artistic producer of Prismatic Arts Society Shahin Sayadi agrees. “Now that Prismatic (along with Onelight) is resident at Alderney Landing, we’ve been taking up opportunities to bring high quality artistic programing to the Alderney Theatre. Shauntay and I saw this as a great opportunity to bring talented nationally recognized and local spoken word artists to a wider audience,” says Sayadi. “I expect that the relationship between Prismatic and CommUNITY will be a model for future collaborations.”

Perhaps more than anything else, CommUNITY’s popularity necessitated a move as well. Past venues The Company House and Sonic Temple worked for the group, but packed audiences demanded more shows and eventually more room to grow. “Our last season was great, the venues in the past were wonderful but we found our first show would get so packed we’d have to turn people away. We ended up doing two shows back to back,” says Grant. With support from Prismatic, CommUNITY is aiming to run increased programming throughout the year. “We’ve been looking at programming outside of the season—we have the May-September lull,” says Grant. “We’re definitely going to talk to Prismatic about working with them on a series of shows.”

And the new programming won’t edge out old favourites like the annual slam challenge. Spoken word artists fight to the finish for a good cause and you reap the benefits of amazing spoken word poetry. “Each poet will just tasked with writing something inspired by the charity of of their choice,” says Grant. “It’s a good way to find out what charities are close to their hearts, we want to give them something that will inspire them too.”

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Word watcher

CommUNITY kicks off 2012/2013 series

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Native Son
  • Native Son

CommUNITY spoken word kicks off their 2012/2013 series with a new venue and some quality spoken word (Wednesday, November 7, 6:30pm, admission by donation, Sonic Temple, 1674 Hollis Street). Featuring Native Son (Marvin Trimm)—whose material takes an objective view of social and political issues and looks through the framework of history to engage his audience. The evening will be hosted by Verena Rizg, and music from Zokugaku will accompany poets during the open mic. Shahib “Simp” Gillard, Hermitofthewoods and Mary-Grace Koile will fight it out slam poetry-style for charity, the winner taking the night’s proceeds for their charity of choice.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Word Iz reaching out

The spoken word crew celebrates 10 years with cool collaborations.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Ardath Whynacht
  • Ardath Whynacht

Ruler of the Halifax spoken word stage, Word Iz Bond is celebrating 10 years of reigning over language, with a cool collaboration that brings in artists from other disciplines. The series, which will run from November to April as part of Speak!, the group’s monthly open mic night, kicks off Thursday, 8:30pm at The Company House.

Integral Accidents is the first collaboration, inspired by the writings of Paul Virilio, featuring poet Ardath Whynacht, visual artist Peter Dykhuis and filmmaker IzReal Jones. Whynacht describes it as a collision of poetry and moving images “that traces a single journey in a car and the multiple internal journeys that are sparked as car and driver speed along the coast.” 

Poets, if you have an idea for a collaboration, submit it to by January 15, for a chance to perform it on stage in May 2011.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nova Scotia native Skibsrud wins Giller, 50-Gs

Skibsrud is the youngest author to ever receive the prize.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 2:42 PM


Johanna Skibsrud won the Giller Prize, and its fifty-grand purse, for her novel The Sentimentalists, which was published by Gaspereau Press.

The 30-year-old—-the youngest ever to receive the literary award—-grew up in Pictou County, specifically Scotsburn in Pictou County, home to one of the province's major dairies.

Based in Montreal, Skibsrud until this point has been known as a poet. Her book of poetry, I Do Not Think That I Could Love A Human Being, came out on Gaspereau's spring list this year. (Read about it on the publisher's site:

Skibsrud's debut novel, The Sentimentalists, accompanies the daughter of a dying Vietnam War-veteran as she retraces her father's steps and weighs his decisions and actions. A fuller summary is available on the publisher's site: Patience: the site is very slow, no doubt due to morning-after-award-ceremony traffic.

Gaspereau authors, and the press itself, have received many prizes and recognition for writing and book design (set and pressed by hand—-objects to behold).

George Elliott Clarke, as perhaps the most high-profile example prior to this win, received the 2001 Governor-General's Literary Award for Poetry in English for Execution Poems, published in 2000. (The GGs get announced next week, November 16.)

Immediately before and after the Giller announcement, media has focused much of its attention so far on the fact that The Sentimentalists is widely unavailable in stores, owing to the purposely limited print runs Gaspereau produces. But, you can check out your local branch of the Halifax Public Libraries (, or other provincial library system, to see if there's a copy available on the racks, or one to be transited over from another branch. Or, alternatively, scan the shelves of a secondhand/used bookstore, such as the celebrated Doull Books (

The Giller jury this year comprised of CBC host Michael Enright, UK writer Ali Smith and American author and teacher Claire Messud.

Besides Skibsrud as the winner, they selected Alexander MacLeod's short story collection Light Lifting (Biblioasis) for the shortlist.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Giller time

Big screen treatment for a big literary prize, tonight at the Writers' Fed.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 3:19 PM

All the book peeps turn in their corduroy jackets for tuxes (nothing like perpetuating a stereotype) for the Giller Prize ceremony, one of the country's biggest literary nights. The Atlantic Book Awards Society wants you to be part of the festivities: they're throwing a party down at the Writers' Fed (1113 Marginal), tonight, from 8-11pm, with food, drink and a large-screen streaming of the event.

Johanna Skibscrud
  • Johanna Skibscrud

Join the local literary community to cheer on Nova Scotian writers Johanna Skibsrud (The Sentimentalists, Gaspereau Press) and Alexander MacLeod (Light Lifting, Biblioasis), both up for the prize. Tickets are $12 adv (455-5251,; $15 at the door. You can also watch it from the comfort of your futon, live on BookTelevision, Bravo! and CTV also will air the show on Wednesday.

And if you're loving Skibsrud's outfit, or fellow nominee Sarah Selecky's dress, look no further than stylish Halifax writer Heather Jessup, who went on shopping expeditions with both writers to pick out tonight's look. I was only half-joking when I suggested that she could have her own literary-style TV show called Jessup Dress-up. Anything that gets people reading and makes them ditch the flood pants should be a hit.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

David Sedaris coming to a mall near you

Get naked, November 24, 7pm, Chapters Indigo, Mic Mac Mall.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Family much Sedaris love
  • Family much Sedaris love

One of my two favourite Sedaris siblings is coming to town—David will be here November 24, 7pm, Chapters Indigo at Mic Mac Mall, which probably means an H&M stop and a night of awesomeness with one of the hands-down funniest essayists out there, and his new book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.

Now, if Amy Sedaris (who was just here to shoot The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Fun Time Hour) came to host a craft session at Atlantic Fabrics with her new book Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, no one would need to get me a Christmas present ever again.

Here's sister Amy making beer-cap castanets with Kathy Lee and Koda:

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We miss Ray Fenwick

Video trailer for Fenwick's new book Mascots.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Ray Fenwick may have moved from Halifax but his humour and typefaces still curlicue around our hearts. Here's the new trailer for his book, Mascots, coming out on Fantagraphics in December.


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chris Benjamin makes Canada Reads longlist

Sustainable City columnist's debut novel picked by readers.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 1:15 PM


I was hopeful that books might actually stay off of the Idol voting lame-train, but no such luck. But then I thought about it again, and realized that anything that gets people talking about Canadian authors, and draws attention to lesser-known names (AKA un-Atwood) is actually a good thing, especially when it involves one of our own. Sustainable City columnist Chris Benjamin's first book Drive-by Saviours is nominated in the top-40 longlist for next year's Canada Reads competition, along with several other local-ish writers including Ami McKay (The Birth House) and Christy Ann Conlin (Heave).

Vote for the top 10 on the Canada Reads website.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't forget, Rememberer launches tonight

Readings and treats at the Allan Street Reading Series' first book launch.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 1:25 PM


Tonight is the launch for Invisible Publishing's Rememberer, at the Allan Street Reading Series. Edited by Jenner Berger, Allan St.'s lovely host, tonight's reading will include Andrew Hood, Laura Dawe, Geordie Miller, Joshua Tibbetts and Berger.

If you can't make it, be sure to stop by the Invisible table at Saturday's Zine Fair, where they'll also have copies of Bats or Swallows, a new collection of stories by Montreal's Teri Vlassopoulos.

Here's more about the book, written by Sean Flinn for our Fall Arts Preview:

Rememberer (Invisible Publishing), combines the convenience of a planner with a collection of short stories from a variety of contributors, plus illustrations (text, visuals and activities) by Yo Rodeo. "I always had this image in my head of someone reading one story after pencilling their to-do list over morning coffee," reveals Jenner-Brooke Berger, who edited the stories. Even with an organizer, life can't always be "compartmentalized"; the feeling informs the writing.

"Part of our approach was to just try to keep everything very simple, but we wanted it to still read as very handmade, and scrappy," explains Paul Hammond, co-creator, with Seth Smith, in Yo Rodeo. (Coast production designer Megan Fildes designed the book.) "The coolest thing about this book, is when you've used it up, it's half ours, and half yours. It's a collaborative project to the end." Pick one up at the Zine Fair, October 23 at St. David's Church Hall, noon-5pm. Admission is free.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MacLeod makes Giller shortlist

SMU assistant prof is shortlisted for Canada's biggest literary prize

Posted By on Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 3:45 PM


Alexander MacLeod's short fiction collection, Light Lifting, has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Published by Biblioasis, Light Lifting is MacLeod's first book, though his stories have appeared regularly in Canadian literary journals. He also teaches in the English and Atlantic Studies programs at Saint Mary's University.

A short feature based on a conversation with MacLeod, who's the son of the writer and academic Alistair, appears Thursday, in this week's edition of The Coast.

On Thursday evening, MacLeod launches Light Lifting in Halifax (The Company House, 2202 Gottingen, 6:30-9pm), with Al Tuck playing in support.

Among the other Giller shortlisted are Sarah Selecky's collection of short stories, This Cake is for the Party (Thomas Allen Publishers), Joanna Skibsrud's novel The Sentimentalists (published by Kentville, Nova Scotia-based Gaspereau Press); David Bergen's novel, The Matter with Morris (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins); and Kathleen Winter's novel Annabel, out from Anansi.

The Giller, which awards $50,000 to the winner (of the best fictional prose, novel or short story collection, in English) and $5,000 to the other four finalists, will be announced in Toronto on Tuesday, November 9.

It's the private-sector companion to the Governor-General's Literary Awards for Fiction, which get announced shortly after. The Giller jury this year comprised of CBC host Michael Enright, UK writer Ali Smith and American author and teacher Claire Messud.

There's always a "right kerfuffle" (to quote one of my favourite British sketch comedy characters) about awards, that punctuate awards seasons. The money gets people worked up. Some question the jury's choices, jurors' credibility, backroom shenanigans and whether this or that author's deserves to even be shortlisted, let alone winning.

Vancouver-based Geist Magazine just resurrected, from a few years back, its piece by Stephen Henighan. In it he takes issue with the Giller, to put it generally and mildly. The mag also runs excerpts from Selecky and Winter, both of whom have written for the Geist. In its latest e-newsletter the mag employs "kafuffle," not "kerfuffle." According to my trusty Canadian Oxford Dictionary, both are acceptable uses and are based on a Scottish word, "curfuffle," itself derived from "fuffle," meaning to disorder.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Roll up your sleeping bag, it's time for Brain Camp

Superhero Coast cartoonist launches her new book on Friday.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Get your body down to Strange Adventures on Friday, August 6, from 4-6pm, for the launch of Brain Camp, the new graphic novel, written by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, and illustrated by Coast comic artist Faith Erin Hicks.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Word on the Street moves back to the street

September 26 at Victoria Park

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 3:37 PM


This is great news, considering the fate of the free festival was uncertain, but Word on the Street will be back outside this year, September 26 at Victoria Park, 11am-5pm. The event, which was indoors for the past 10 years, will be under a tent, with plans to move inside (location unknown) if weather doesn't cooperate. While the Cunard Centre was certainly big enough to hold the event, it lacked the charm of an outdoor venue, plus the foot traffic. Perhaps with the new Central Library, WOTS will eventually move further down Spring Garden for future years.

In addition to the panels, readings, publisher sales and pitching session, there will be a section dedicated to digital tools like e-readers and audio books.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

That Bloody Joey Comeau

A Softer World brain launches his YA novel, Thursday at Strange Adventures.

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 5:38 PM


“One bloody thing after another” is something you might say during a hectic day at work, but in Joey Comeau’s newest novel it’s literal: coughed-up pieces of bloody, dead animals eaten by what was a human character. The co-creator of A Softer World launches his latest work, One Bloody Thing After Another, in Halifax today (Thursday, May 27 at Strange Adventures, 4-8pm, free)—-it’s a horror novel that saw Comeau pick up a bloodier pen than usual to create a grisly tale, while still keeping his funny, sexy and sweet writing style intact.

It tells the story of an old man, his ancient yet endearing dog and the headless ghost that greets them both when the pair return from their daily walk; of Jackie, her anger issues, her dead mother’s ghost and the crush she has on her best friend, Ann and of Ann, whose mother has turned into a live-animal-eating monster and whose sister is about to follow in her mother’s clawing footsteps.

“It’s not as much about the grisly stuff, although that’s there,” says Comeau on an early morning phone call from Toronto. “It’s fun to twist back and forth between grisly stuff, sad stuff, sweet stuff, funny stuff—-so people don’t really know what to expect next.” Comeau adds that while he enjoys horror movies, he’s more interested in the unexpected, and exploring the characters. That doesn’t mean that One Bloody Thing After Another, marketed as a young adult novel and centred on teenage characters Jackie and Ann, takes any hesitant steps toward sexuality, violence or gore.

“It occurred to me writing it that it could be a young adult novel, and when I thought that I was like, ‘Well I’ve got to avoid writing it like I think it’s going to be a young adult novel,’ because nobody likes to be written down to, and if I’m thinking, ‘Oh this is for a kid I can’t put this,’ or ‘Oh this is for a kid I can’t have it be about this,’ then obviously a kid reading it is going to read that and be like ‘Fuck you, I can handle things.’”

With scenes of werewolf-like creatures eating dogs, kittens and a baby, there’s no threat of censorship in what is, amidst all the blood, a respectful novel about relationships and family. Comeau guesses that fans of his web comic A Softer World will be the first to pick up the horror novel, and he knows a large part of that readership is youth from 14 to 20 years old: a demographic he receives plenty of emails from, especially for his first novel, Lockpick Pornography.

“I get a lot of emails from young gay teenagers, and I mean that’s a book with really explicit sex and violence. Not that this book has a lot of sex in it, but it does have queer teenagers, and queer teenagers don’t get a lot of chances to read about themselves, and when they do it’s coming-of-age stories or coming-out stories; it’s good to have something that is fun for them to read.”

One Bloody Thing After Another isn’t the only project Comeau’s been working on. He and Softer co-creator Emily Horne have just published a second collection of the web comic that includes strips from 2005 to 2009, and Comeau recently finished a sequel to Lockpick Pornography online ( Ask Comeau about all of his bloody things in person at tonight’s launch.

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New issue of Her Royal Majesty out today

Quarterly literary mag features work from Halifax, Toronto, Paris and New York.

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 3:18 PM


Look for the eighth issue of Her Royal Majesty, the online literary magazine that used to be published out of Halifax by Harriet Alida Lye before she moved to Paris. The theme is magic, with an interview with Polish poet Adam Zagajevski.

Always gorgeously produced, if you want a print copy, there is a limited edition available for sale. Email for details. Lye is also accepting submissions and donations to keep this lovely little arts mag alive.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Update: Joey Comeau withdrawn from $10,000 literary award

Former Haligonian does not qualify for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award.

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 11:47 AM


ED. UPDATE: Apparently ECW Press has voluntarily withdrawn Comeau's Overqualified from the 2009 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for, well, being overqualified—the award is for first collections and Comeau’s self-published his collection of short stories It’s Too Late to Say I’m Sorry in 2007.

Former Coast contributor (remember A Softer World?) Joey Comeau was shortlisted for the $10,000 Danuta Gleed Literary Award, given to an author for their debut collection of short stories, published the previous year. Comeau's Overqualified (ECW Press) is a series of job application letters that reveal much more than you'd ever expect. Comeau, who now lives in Toronto, is up against BC writers Deborah Willis (Vanishing and Other Stories, Penguin Canada) and Sarah Roberts (Wax Boats, Caitlin Press). The winner is announced on June 5.

Congratulate Comeau next Thursday for the Halifax launch of his new novel One Bloody Thing After Another, at Strange Adventures.

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