Artists

We have some incredible talent gracing our stage and workshops this festival! Read about them below and where to find them in the festival program. Visit our Events page for event descriptions, or view our schedule at a glance.

Athena McQueen

Performer

Athena McQueen is a drag queen and emcee from Guelph, Ontario. Athena made her debut as a drag queen in the summer of 2011. Since then she has become the resident queen of The eBar in downtown Guelph, where she hosts RuPaul's Drag Race viewing parties and Queer As F*** Friday’s - weekly LGBTQ+ parties and events at The eBar. Athena is also known for her Drag Queen Storytime for kids. You can follow her on Instagram @athenamcqueen or like her on facebook.com/theathenamcqueen

Showcase: Humpday Party Co-Presented with Guelph Pride; Wednesday, October 16 at 11pm @ Sip Club

Billie the Kid

Performer

Billie the Kid (Billie Kearns), is a Dené spoken word poet with a BASc in Electrical Engineering. Her poetry uses storytelling and playful metaphors to explore relationships with her friends, family, culture, and good smelling food. Billie loves ice cream, allegories, dancing, robots, and dancing robots.

Originally from Yellowknife, Billie moved around a lot then ended up mostly growing up in Ottawa, where she first started going to slams in 2012. Since then she’s participated in spoken word events across Canada and in the United States. She competed with the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam Team at YouthCanSlam in 2013 and in 2014, the team placing second both years. She continued to represent Ottawa for another two consecutive years, this time on the Capital Slam Team at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2015 and in 2016. Billie led Queen’s University to compete in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational for the school’s first time ever in 2016, for a second time in 2017, coached the team in 2018, and competed again in 2019. Among many events, Billie has been featured in the ‘Ways We Love’ showcase at CFSW 2017 and was a co-feature at Voices of Today Finals in 2018.

Showcase: Exploring the Past; Wednesday, October 16 at 3:30pm @ 10C

Charlie Petch headshot

Charlie Petch

Performer

Charlie C Petch is an award winning playwright, spoken word artist, haiku deathmaster, host and musical saw player. They have published books with WordPress and LyricalMyrical and poems with Descant, The Toronto Quarterly, Matrix and Oratorealis journals. Petch is the creative director of "Hot Damn It's A Queer Slam".

Showcase: Stage a Coup Double Feature; Friday, October 18 at 11pm @ Guelph Little Theatre

d’bi.young anitafrika

Workshop Facilitator, Performer

Jamaican born and raised d’bi.young anitafrika, is a storyteller. Canadian Poet of Honor, YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts, and three-time Dora Award-winning playwright-performer. d’bi.young is internationally celebrated for her work as a Dub poet, monodramatist, director and educator. She is the founding Artistic Director Emeritus of the Watah Theatre where she taught emerging and established BIQTPOC artists in Canada (2008-2018) and the founding Creative Director of the Anitafrika Retreat Centre where she teaches global artist residencies. Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and the human experience, through her radical interdisciplinary arts practices, d’bi.young has written, performed & published four collections of poetry, twelve plays and seven dub poetry albums. She is currently engaged in postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, completing her dissertation entitled From Dubbin Poetry to Dubbin Theatre: Equity, Inclusion, and Performative Autoethnography. d’bi.young’s latest projects include her newly published dubbin poetry: the collected poems of d’bi.young anitafrika, Concrete Jungle - a new monodrama exploring Blackness and lament as self-recovery, and an online arts education platform called Asota

Workshop: The Anitafrika Method; Thursday, October 17 at 2pm @ 10C
Showcase: Words Worth Repeating: Poet of Honour Showcase & Book Launch; Thursday, October 17 at 7pm

Hope Engel

Panelist

Oklahoma Chahta, Chickasaw & Cherokee, living in Neutral, Haudenesaunee, Anishnabeg territory (Guelph & K-W), maintaining ceremonies & traditions since 1995. Background: Arts, "whole-stic" health & Relational justice (Guelph Indigenous Student Centre, OAC, Hillside, Brantford Native Housing, PAN, When the Rainbow Ain't Enough, & Kaleidoscope Collective).

Panel: Supporting Indigenous Spaces; Thursday, October 17 at 4pm @10C

Inali Barger

Workshop Facilitator

Inali Barger is a spoken word artist, educator, community advocate, activist, and has a habit of turning false dichotomies into biodegradable confetti. He has coached individuals and teams of poets to help them breathe into their own truths, locate their own experiences, and edit (self/others/the world, through words). Inali addresses intersectionality through the context of addiction, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, physical illness, queerness, research for advocacy on behalf of himself and others, and his nearly 11 years of dedication to the London Poetry Slam and Canadian spoken word community. They have competed nationally five times, placing 2nd nationally on the London Poetry Slam team in 2016, and was Underground Indies champ in 2017. He has performed, offered workshops, and spoken on panels at international and national conferences, universities, high schools, public schools, libraries, drop-in centres, living rooms and in conversations with strangers.

Workshop: Accessibility, Awareness, and Language; Tuesday, October 15 at 1pm @ 10C

Janice wears glasss and googly eyes

Janice Jo Lee

Performer, Workshop Facilitator

Janice Jo Lee (she/her), aka Sing Hey, is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist. She is a spoken word poet, folk-soul singer-songwriter, playwright-actor, and educator from Kitchener, on Haldimand Tract treaty territory. Lee is a hard femme queer radical and is passionate about building flourishing communities based in justice and joy through art. She believes in the power of storytelling to build a bridge across difference and bring people together. Her latest compositions are Ancestor Songs, wailing and heart-wrenching melodies full of power and ferocity. She is working on her upcoming albums Ancestor Song, and Lonely is the Lullaby.

Showcase: Stage a Coup Double Feature; Friday, October 18 at 11pm @ Guelph Little Theatre
Workshop: Ensemble Play; Saturday, October 19 at 1pm @ 10C

Jennifer Alicia

Host, Curator, Panelist

Jennifer Alicia is a queer, mixed (Mi'kmaw/Settler) storyteller originally from Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland), now residing in Tkaronto. She is a two-time national poetry slam champion with the Toronto Poetry Slam Team (2017 & 2018) and member of Seeds & Stardust: an Indigenous women's poetry collective.

Showcase: Existence as Resistance: BIPOC Open Mic & Feature (Host); Tuesday, October 15 at 3:30pm @ 10C
Panel: Supporting Indigenous Spaces; Thursday, October 17 at 4pm @ 10C

Kay Kassirer smiling looking up at the sky

Kay Kassirer

Performer

Kay Kassirer (they/them) is a poet, activist, youth advocate, community organizer, and sex worker. They have toured internationally with the chapbooks Confessions of a Queer and Unbandage the Wounds, and have earned their place on several competitive final stages - notably the Capturing Fire International Queer Slam (2016), the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam (2016, 2017, 2019), and the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word where they placed third nationally (2018). Kay currently resides on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations - colonially known as Vancouver.

Showcase: Discovering Literature Book Launch; Saturday, October 19 at 4pm @ 10C

Kevin Wesaquate

Workshop Facilitator, Panelist

Kevin spoken word poet and visual artist is currently employed as the Aboriginal Arts Leader at SCYAP. Kevin is the founder of Indigenous Poetry Society with hopes of building a larger community of artist. Kevin represented Saskatoon at the Canadian Individual Slam in Vancouver in April 2018 as well as representing Tonight It’s Poetry for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2017 and 2018. He recently finished the Indigenous Fine Arts Residency in Banff Centre for the Arts, called ‘Ghost Days, Making Art for Spirit. 2019’. Becoming community leader in Saskatoon he is from Piapot First Nation where he learned the value of a community.

Workshop: Storytelling through Indigenous Concepts; Friday, October 18 at 3pm @ Guelph Little Theatre
Panel: Supporting Indigenous Spaces; Thursday, October 17 at 4pm @ 10C

Lilith Lemons

Performer

Lilith Lemons makes up one third and is a founding member of The Femmes Rebelles, Guelph's premiere burlesque troupe. A true thespian, Lilith brings many personas to the stage. While you can never predict what she's going to do next, one thing is always for certain... there's nothing sour about this pussy.

Showcase: Bedtime Stories: Poerotica and Burlesque; Tuesday, October 15 at 11pm @ Sip Club

Lisa Baird

Performer

Lisa Baird is a poet, a community acupuncturist and a queer white settler. Her work is widely published in literary magazines and her first book of poetry, "Winter's Cold Girls" is forthcoming from Caitlin Press in October 2019.

Showcase: Discovering Literature Book Launch; Saturday, October 19 at 4pm @ 10C

M'Damn D spinning music

M'Damn D

DJ

Your genre blending, gender bending DJ, spinning all walks of bass! Co-founder and resident DJ of FIERCE (Guelph's only regular queer+ event), M'Damn D has been organizing/DJing all kinds of events over the past 10 years, from Burlesque shows to club nights to festivals. What to expect? A little bit of everything! Soul, funk, house and all that good stuff in between, with sprinkles of nostalgia to keep you boogieing all night long. Requests and respect always welcome. // For your listening pleasure, visit https://www.mixcloud.com/madamd

Showcase: Humpday Party Co-Presented with Guelph Pride; Wednesday, October 16 at 11pm @ Sip Club

Mahlikah Awe:ri

Poet of Honour

Mahlikah Awe:ri, Enml'ga't Saqama'sgw (The Woman Who Stands and Walks In The Light), Haudenosaunee Kanien’kehà & L'sitkuk Mi’kmaw is an award winning, nationally recognized Cultural Arts Leader, Eco-Influencer, Community Engaged Arts Education Practitioner, Slam Poet, Musician and Performance Artist. Awe:ri’s Contemporary Story Weaving through Art For Social Change with Red Slam Collective, Prologue to the Performing Arts, TDSBCREATES and Louder Than A Bomb Toronto, inspires emerging artists and leaders to reimagine what it means to be “In-Relation”, to the Land and interconnected to all things.

Showcase: Words Worth Repeating: Poet of Honour Showcase & Book Launch; Thursday, October 17 at 7pm

Maysam Ghani

Performer

Maysam is a Muslim settler of colour with Palestinian roots, dwelling on the unceded lands of Turtle Island. She is a 4th year Global Development Studies and Concurrent education major, with specializations in First Nations, Metis and Inuit studies, and History at Queen’s University. Maysam is a part of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, and the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, in which she is committed to solidarity projects in the Kingston community. In her poetry, Maysam explores questions of home through her familial, ancestral and land-based connections.

Showcase: Existence as Resistance: BIPOC Open Mic and Feature; Tuesday, October 15 at 330pm @10C

Michelle Peek (Art Not Shame)

Workshop Facilitator

Michelle Peek is a photographer and community-engaged workshop facilitator in Guelph. Alongside a team of socially-engaged artists, she runs a non-profit organization called Art Not Shame, which uses creativity and the arts to address the social isolation and loneliness that results from and exacerbates challenges to mental health.

Workshop: Fuck Perfect; Tuesday, October 15 at 1pm @ 10C

Mugabi smiling on the grass

Mugabi Byenkya

Performer

Mugabi Byenkya is a writer, poet and occasional rapper. He was born in Nigeria, to Ugandan parents and is currently based between Kampala and Toronto.

Mugabi was longlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Award in 2015. His essays and poetry have been published in The Good Men Project, African Writer, Arts and Africa and The Kalahari Review, among others. He has been interviewed on Voice of America, NTV Uganda, and Brittle Paper, among other media outlets.

Mugabi’s writing is used to teach international high school English reading comprehension. His debut experimental epistolary novel, ‘Dear Philomena,’ was published in 2017 and he recently concluded a 42 city, 4 country North America/East Africa tour in support of this. In 2018, Mugabi was named one of 56 writers who has contributed to his native Uganda’s literary heritage since independence by Writivism. Dear Philomena, was named a Ugandan bestseller in the same year.

Mugabi wants to be Jaden Smith when he grows up.

Showcase: Discovering Literature Book Launch; Saturday, October 19 at 4pm @ 10C

Myla Walin headshot

Myna Wallin

Performer

Myna Wallin is a Toronto author and editor, with three published books: Anatomy of an Injury, poetry (Inanna Publications, 2018), Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar, novel (Tightrope Books, 2010), and A Thousand Profane Pieces, poetry (Tightrope Books, 2006). Her short story, “Canadoll,” about a male sexbot, appeared in That Dammed Beaver: Canadian Humour, Laughs and Gaffs (Exile Editions, 2018). Poems are forthcoming in Carousel Magazine and Juniper Poetry Journal. Myna recently completed another poetry manuscript,The Danger of Unsecured Objects, for which she received a 2018 Canada Council Grant. mynawallin.com

Showcase: Bedtime Stories: Poerotica and Burlesque; Tuesday, October 15 at 11pm @ Sip Club

Patrick de Belen

Poet of Honour

From arts educator, to event host, to youth mentor, to award-winning poet/writer, to most recently, directing, Patrick de Belen is a storyteller of many kinds. He strongly believes through these stories he can save the world and himself - and secure the bag - all at the same time.

Along with his own personal projects, PDB has collaborated with many notable organizations - using storytelling to build and serve his community. Find some of these works on his website: PatrickdeBelen.com / follow him on instagram at @patrick_debelen

Showcase: Words Worth Repeating: Poet of Honour Showcase & Book Launch; Thursday, October 17 at 7pm

Queerwax Improv Troupe

Queerwax Improv Troupe

Performer

Rainbow-coloured fun on the end of your LGBTQ-tip. Queerwax is Southwestern Ontario's first and only all-queer improv troupe (that we know of). This friendly gang of LGBTQ-ties spills out of your ears and into your heart using nothing but high energy, very gay, and completely un-planned antics. Laughs will be had. But fair warning, comedy this fun may lead to an unexpected queer-infection.

Performing members of Queerwax at Guelph Spoken Word: Lindsay Todd, Braeden Etienne, Kez Vicario-Robinson, Evelyn Barber, and Sarah Bennett.

Showcase: The Weird and the Wonderful; Friday, October 18 at 3:30pm @ Guelph Little Theatre

RC Weslowski

Performer, Workshop Facilitator

RC Weslowski is the winner of the 2016 Sheri D Wilson Golden Beret Award for innovation in Spoken Word. RC is a 7 time Vancouver Poetry Slam Member and the 2012 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion. RC is a 2 time World Cup of Poetry Slam Finalist (2007 and 2013) RC has led spoken word and performance workshops at festivals across North America and for the Banff Centre’s Spoken Word Program. RC is the co-founder and Director of Hullabaloo: the BC Youth Spoken Word Festival. http://poets.ca/goldenberet/ www.rcweslowski.com

Showcase: The Weird and the Wonderful; Friday, October 18 at 3:30pm @ Guelph Little Theatre
Workshop: The Art of Nonsense: Discovering New Language to Heal Trauma; Saturday, October 19 at 1pm, Location TBC

Rene Andre Meshake

Performer

RENE ANDRE MESHAKE is an Anishinaabe Elder, storyteller, visual and performing artist, award-winning author, flute player, multimedia artist and a Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. By blending Anishinaabe and English words into his performances, he communicates his spiritual heritage and poetics. His education includes: Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers, Anishinaabe oral tradition, language, arts and culture. He has an active on-line presence as a Funky-Elder.

Showcase: Opening Ceremonies and Community Feast; Monday, October 14 at 5pm @ 10C

Robyn performing

Robyn Kaur Sidhu

Performer

ROBYN KAUR SIDHU (she/her/they/them) is a Queer, Punjabi-Canadian spoken word poet and pretender of knowing what she wants to do with her life. She is the 2018 American National Poetry Slam Rookie of the Year. She is a member of the Spoken Word Canada Board of Directors and the Hamilton Youth Poets. She has had feelings publicly, and has performed them on national and international stages in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. She is trying to be gentle with herself. You can find Robyn in vintage cardigans or also on the internet if that’s your thing.

Showcase: The Future Is Now: Youth Showcase & Open Mic; Wednesday, October 16 at 1pm @ 10C

Sofia Fly

DJ

This Brampton raised babe should teach a master class on music. Sofia Fly is a DJ/Producer/Rapper/Poet/TransWoman that don't GAF. Her sets focus heavily on female and LGBTQ artists; and combines her own original songs&beats with the bops and bangers you know and love from the 90's to 2019. Sofia Fly got her start as in artist in the Canadian poetry scene. She won the Canadian National Festival of Spoken Word along with the Toronto Poetry Slam Team in 2013. Her Debut EP "Rosé" is available on all music streaming platforms. Follow her on Instagram @djsofiafly

Showcase: Humpday Party Co-Presented with Guelph Pride; Wednesday, October 16 at 11pm @ Sip Club

performing live

The Soul Motivators

Musical Performer

The Soul Motivators are here to restore your faith in funk. A fresh take on a classic sound, they blend 1970’s funk and soul, psychedelic jams and hip-hop breaks. This nine-piece Toronto powerhouse brings explosive energy to stage; playing with greats like Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Lee Fields, Bernie Worrell and A Tribe Called Red. The Soul Motivators are now set to release their sophomore album in Summer 2018 on Do Right! Music, featuring the power-house vocal stylings of powerful leading lady Shahi Teruko.

TSM stay true to their musical roots while bringing a fresh, unique, soulful energy to the table. It’s only up for here- so let yourself be motivated!

Showcase: Let yourself be motivated! CFSW 2019 after party with The Soul Motivators; Saturday, October 19 at 10pm @ Red Papaya

Woman sits with her legs crossed reading from a red book

Victoria Grant

Performer

Victoria Grant is a Toronto based Writer, Performer, Spoken Word Artist and Erotic Poet. In 2013 she independently published a book of erotic poems, 47 Kisses, and produced a spoken word album in 2014 titled Poems and Love Letters. Victoria has performed all over the GTA, Montreal and is making her second appearance in Guelph.

Showcase: Bedtime Stories: Poerotica and Burlesque; Tuesday, October 15 at 11pm @ Sip Club

Wes Ryan in a corset

Wes Ryan

Performer, Workshop Facilitator

Wes Ryan is a genre-mashing, award winning performance artist with a penchant for combining spoken word and dance. As the Artistic Director of These Are Horizon Days Integrated Arts and as a solo performer, Wes has been creating bold physical performances for over 25 years. They have featured on stages throughout Ontario and most recently performed at Words Aloud (2018) and the Autism Ontario Conference (2018).

As a member of the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective they have participated on three CFSW teams and represented at Verses Festival. Winner of Hot Damn It’s a Queer Slam (2019) and the Urban Legends Invitational (2016), they were twice the Peterborough Poetry Slam Champion (2013/14). Wes has collaborated and choreographed for Charlie Petch’s play Geppetto’s Daughter and Jon Hedderwick’s film The Search for Dark Matter.

Showcase: Exploring the Past; Wednesday, October 16 at 3:30pm @ 10C
Workshop: Instigating Resilience Through Poetry & Verbatim Dance; Friday, October 18 at 1pm @ Guelph Little Theatre

yes the poet

Performer

estefania alfonso falcon (they/he/she), also known as yes, is a radical genderfluid queer cubanx migrant, poet, tattoo artist, educator, and activist living in and around kiji’buktuk (Halifax) in Mi’kma’ki. they believe in the destruction of the heteropatriarchy, borders, and the capitalist police state. their intention is to learn so loudly that others have no choice but to follow suit, and they’re just so stoked for our collective growth.

Showcase: Exploring the Past; Wednesday, October 16 at 3:30pm @ 10C

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