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.

Billie smiling, wearing a mustard yellow turtle neck

Billie the Kid


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


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: Science Fiction Double Feature; Friday, October 18 at 11pm @ Guelph Little Theatre

Portrait of Inali Barger

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 Research; 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: Science Fiction Double Feature; Friday, October 18 at 11pm @ Guelph Little Theatre
Workshop: Responsibility of the Storyteller Collective Writing; Saturday, October 19 at 1pm @ 10C

Jennifer Alicia

Host, Curator, Panelist

Jennifer Alicia is queer, mixed (Mi’kmaq/Settler) storyteller originally from Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland), now residing in Toronto, Ontario. She is 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. Jennifer Alicia also hosts a weekly writing group called “especially around the dreams.” Jennifer Alicia was recently an artist-in-residence for Indigenous Storyteller and Spoken Word at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

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

Kay Kassirer smiling looking up at the sky

Kay Kassirer


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), 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 photo with quote

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. He has recently earned a place on the Saskatoon Spoken Word Poetry team (2018) and represented Saskatoon at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word 2017 and is looking forward to CFSW 2018. Kevin represented Saskatoon at the Canadian Individual Slam in Vancouver in April 2018. 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 3:30pm @ 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

Lisa Baird headshot

Lisa Baird


Lisa Baird is a writer, a performance poet, a community acupuncturist and a queer white settler living on Attawandaron/Mississaugas of the New Credit territory (Guelph ON). Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in various journals including Arc, Rattle and Grain. She is a contributor to the Lambda-award winning anthology The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Healthcare (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016) and to GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos for our Times (Frontenac House, 2018). Her first book of poetry, Winter’s Cold Girls, is forthcoming from Dagger Editions (an imprint of Caitlin Press) in fall of 2019.

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

Mugabi smiling on the grass

Mugabi Byenkya


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

RC on stage speaking into a microphone

RC Weslowski


RC Weslowski is a 2017 VPL Book Camp Keynote Speaker, winner of the 2016 Sheri D Wilson Golden Beret Award and the 2012 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion. RC is a 2 time World Cup of Poetry Slam Finalist (2007 and 2013) and 7 time member of the Vancouver Poetry Slam. 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 co-director of Hullabaloo: the BC Youth Spoken Word Festival. He is also the co-creator of Surrealist Audio Collage Podcast “Oh No Not Another Podcast”

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

Rene wears a grey top hat and jacket

Rene Andre Meshake


RENE ANDRE MESHAKE is an Ojibwe elder, visual and performing artist, award-winning author, storyteller, flute player, new media artist and a Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. He works to fuse Ojibwe and English words into his stories, poetry and spoken word performances, Rene communicates his Ojibwe spiritual heritage to the contemporary world. He was born in the railway town of Nakina in Northwestern Ontario and was raised by his Okomissan grandmother. His education includes: Anishinaabe oral tradition, language, arts and culture. Rene has a diploma in Graphic Design from Sheridan College and a certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers. Rene’s body of artwork, stories and his flute improvisations create a strong, expressive, and entertaining presentation for an ever-increasing audience. He also has an active on-line and performing presence as a Funky-Elder.

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

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


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: Storytelling and Poerotica; 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 stands with a photo of slowers behind them

yes the poet


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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