Workshops 2018

Workshop tickets are now available on Eventbrite! Get yours soon, they will sell out fast. Workshops are $20 each (free for festival pass holders), advance registration required. The Decolonizing Your Language and Land Acknowledgement workshops are $10. Registration for these is encouraged but not required.

Monday, October 28

Decolonizing Your Language, 3:30-5pm @ 10C

In this workshop Andrew will demonstrate the ways subtle nuances found in the Anishinaabe language determine the role of the human being on our mother the earth.

Dr. Andrew Judge headshot

Dr. Andrew Judge


Boozoo! (Greetings!) Mko Mose Indizhnikaz (My spirit name is Bear Walker), Meshekenh n’doodem (I am Turtle Clan), d'eshkan ziibi n'doonjiba (I was born and raised along the horned serpent river [present day London, Ontario]). Anishinaabe - Irish, O’jibii’igay inini n’dow (I am an Anishinaabe - Irish Ojibway man). Dr. Andrew Judge is a professor of Indigenous Studies at Conestoga College, sessional Lecturer at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in South Western Ontario and visiting professor at the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad in Cayo District, Belize. He specializes in traditional Indigenous knowledge and works with Elders across North America to support the conscious awakening of his students and himself. Andrew is an initiated Mayan day count keeper and regularly participates in the ancient ceremonial practices of his Anishinaabe ancestors. Andrew is currently developing programming in Indigenous land-based practices and invites his students to work with traditional medicines and foods to learn the ways of the Ancestors. In the summer of 2018 Andrew founded Minjimendan (In a state of remembering) an Indigenous foods garden dedicated to helping the community remember their role in restoring the vitality of the Earth.

Tuesday, October 30

When Trauma Speaks the Bones, 1-3pm @ 10C

“When Trauma Speaks the Bones” will provide a learning space on trauma and writing tailored specifically to the context of the Canadian Spoken Word scene.  Psychological tools for understanding trauma as a phenomenon within the body, mind, and spirit will be provided and explored with participants. Simple tools for recognizing trauma sensations and doing self-care will be provided.

This will explore the impact of writing, performing, and hearing poetry that draws on trauma as a creative inspiration.  When is writing from trauma healing and when is it hurtful?  Can poetry that heals the poet be harmful to an audience or vice versa?  How can an artist/MC facilitate an experience that acknowledges trauma without fetishizing it?  Experiential writing activities will be used to explore these questions.

Kai Cheng Thom headshot

Kai Cheng Thom


Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performer, wicked witch and lasagna lover based in Montreal and Toronto, unceded Indigenous territories. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published widely online and in print. She has performed spoken word as a featured artist across the country, at venues including the Verses International Poetry Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. A two-time Lambda Literary Finalist, she is the author of the novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars, the poetry collection a place called No Homeland, and the children's book From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea. She is currently working on a collection of essays titled I HOPE WE CHOOSE LOVE: A Trans Girl's Notes From the End of the World.

From Coffee House to Career, A Primer, 1-3pm @ 10C

As you go from slams to larger stages, how do you keep control over your look and sound? This workshop will give you the language and knowledge to know how to answer when sound/lighting or camera people ask what you would like from them. I will teach you the language techs will recognize, as well as educate about the tools available when working with sound, lighting and image. As someone who works professionally in stage, photography and film, I will help you to go pro with confidence.

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".

Artist CV's, Bio's and Portfolios, 1-3pm @ Heritage Hall

As an artist it is important to have the tools needed to apply for festivals, grants and features. A bad application package can work against you. This workshop will demystify the tools of the trade, discuss what should and should not be on your CV and how to format it all. We'll also work on writing a bio, and discuss what kinds of information you need to have available to appear credible and be taken seriously when applying for gigs and grants.

photo of Jon Hedderwick

Jon Hedderwick


Jon Hedderwick is a poet, activist, film producer, community organizer and employment counsellor. He performs, organizes and mentors emerging poets with the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective. In 2017, he had the honour of serving as the Festival Director for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW).

Land Acknowledgement, 3-5pm @ 10C

Do you know whose traditional lands you have settled on? Are you aware of the treaties that are supposed to govern settler interaction with this land and its indigenous peoples? This workshop is designed to help you on your way to being more conscientious of the space that you occupy and to help you acknowledge that on stage and in your everyday life in a better, more meaningful way. Come grow with us.

K. Fran Davis headshot

K. Fran Davis


K. Fran Davis is Haudenosaunee from the Six Nations territory of the Grand River, Cayuga nation and part of the Wolf clan. K. Fran Davis is a story-teller, dancer, and educator with the foundational teaching of the ‘Good Mind’ that informs her delivery as an educator, community Elder, mother, grandmother, friend, sister, auntie and a human being. Kelly accepts guidance from her holistic upbringing through the oral traditions of her Haudenosaunee heritage and the kind-hearted women that raised her.

Wednesday, October 31

Improv for Joy, 1-3pm @ 10C

In this course, students learn the fundamentals of theatrical improvisation through lessons on how to find confidence in spontaneous choices, how to play at the top of your intelligence and how to truly listen, connect and build together in the moment. By the end of this workshop students will be letting the squirrel (their creativity) out of the garage (its cage) and beginning to understand the absolute joy that is improv.

photo of Hayley Kellet

Hayley Kellett & The Making-Box


Hayley Kellett brings over 10 years of experience helping individuals and teams across North America become more open, happy and productive by harnessing the tools of improvisation. Hayley has a long history with the world renowned Second City as a youth and adult instructor and Tour Co. alumnus. Hayley is a recipient of Guelph, Ontario’s Top 40 Under 40 award (2017), a Canadian Comedy Award Nominee (2015) and was recently named a 2018 YMCA-YWCA Guelph Woman of Distinction. Other career highlights include stage-kissing Whose Line Is It Anyway? star Colin Mochrie on the mouth. Twice.

Artist Finances, 1-3pm @ 10C

Making art, that’s my jam! Budgets, taxes, business #?... not so much. Come and learn the necessities to do your taxes and run the financial side of being a professional artist. Co-presented with Guelph Arts Council, RLB Chartered Professional Accountants, and Meridian Credit Union. Professional artists will be present for translation.

Artist Finances Poster
Joeffrey Klompus headshot

Jeffrey Klompus

Registered Retirement Consultant & Certified Financial Planner at Meridian Credit Union

Jeff grew up in New York City where frequent visits to many of the arts and cultural destinations were mandated by his mom. Through these trips he gained a deep appreciation of the importance of the creative spirit to our world. Jeff says that, lacking any true artistic ability himself, he marvels at the ability of others to express themselves through their art. This left brain dominance led him to a career as a Financial Planner. He is a Wealth Advisor with Meridian Credit Union, proudly serving Meridian’s Members in Guelph. He has a Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC) designation and is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). He also supports the efforts of Guelph Arts Council as a Member of the Board.

Jay Reid headshot

Jay Reid

Co-Founder and Improv For Business Director at The Making-Box

Jay has had the absolute pleasure of teaching and performing improv theatre across North America and is co-founder of The Making-Box, southern Ontario's a hub for live comedy and improv education. Since 2013, The Making-Box has empowered thousands of individuals and businesses through improv training and delighted thousands more at one-of-a-kind live comedy events. In 2016, The Making-Box was nominated for both Innovation Guelph's Start-Up Of The Year and The Guelph Chamber of Commerce: Community Spirit Award. In 2017, The Making-Box launched Guelph's first storefront comedy theatre and improv training centre. In 2018, The Making-Box added a satellite classroom in Kitchener-Waterloo and later that year were nominated for Guelph's Community Innovator Award. With 12 weekly classes running in two different cities and a client roster that includes some of Canada's top organizations, The Making-Box continuously strives to bring the transformative power of improvisation to the world.

Jonas Postons headshot

Jonas Postons

Staff Accountant at RLB Chartered Professional Accountants

Jonas Postons is a Staff Accountant at RLB Chartered Professional Accountants. Jonas graduated with honors from the University of Guelph’s Management Economics and Finance program with co-op. He has also completed a graduate diploma in Accounting. Throughout his undergraduate degree, Jonas worked for a number of companies across various industries before deciding to work in accounting. Jonas enjoys understanding and evaluating businesses internally, specifically the intricacies of issues facing businesses today. Jonas is great with numbers and excels at understanding and synthesizing business problems.

Peter Niemeier, BBA, CPA, CA

Manager at RLB Chartered Professional Accountants

Peter Niemeier, BBA, CPA, CA is a Manager at RLB Chartered Professional Accountants. Peter is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and joined the RLB team in September 2014. Peter works primarily on accounting and assurance engagements in the private sector with a focus on owner-managed businesses. He is passionate about providing a strategic, big-picture approach towards accounting, with an eye towards providing clients with superior value-added service. Peter has considerable industry exposure and a vast skill-set, with his greatest expertise being in financial accounting, taxation, and strategic planning. Peter chose to pursue becoming an Accountant because of an interest in business and analyzing sports statistics. His love for numbers has evolved into a passion for client success and helping businesses to grow in the local community.

Thursday, November 1

Grant Writing, 1-3pm @ The Board Room Cafe

Join Jillian Christmas for a facilitated session on accessing grants. Acquire tools to navigate the Canada Council for the Arts and learn which grants work for spoken word artists and organizers. To see the art form of spoken word flourish in Canada, our community of artists needs to better equip ourselves to access the resources that are available to us. 

Jillian Christmas headshot

Jillian Christmas

Past Poet of Honour

Jillian Christmas was born and raised in Markham, Ontario. She currently lives on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people (Vancouver, BC.), where she served for six years as Artistic Director of Versəs Festival of Words. Jillian is an enthusiastic organizer and activist in the Canadian arts community, her focus being to increase anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. She has participated in, developed and executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod's Travelling Slam, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Opera, and the CULTCH Mentorship, and facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.

Friday, November 2

This is Our Story, 1-3pm @ Heritage Hall

150 years of resistance in canada Working with McNeilly’s spoken word piece, “This Is Our Story,” participants engage in collaboratively creating and performing an arrangement of the piece, complimented by poetry of their own creation. They unpack themes of the settler colonial narrative of discovery and confederation, reflect on Indigenous resurgency and think critically about Afro-Indigenous alliance and solidarity.

Mosa McNeilly headshot

Mosa McNeilly


MOSA MCNEILLY is a visual artist, performer and ritualist, researcher, educator and editor. Working through transdisciplinary research methodologies she investigates themes of Black radical imagination, Middle Passage memory and embodying the Sacred as creative praxes of freedom and self-realization. In her twenty-nine years experience McNeilly’s art and performance works have been exhibited, published and performed extensively, she has lectured and spoken on panels in universities, and has cultivated dedicated spiritual and cultural practices informed by African and Indigenous knowledges. She has received numerous arts and academic awards and has delivered hundreds of arts education programs in elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools, reaching thousands of learners. She has received teachings from African and Indigenous Elders from the Yoruba, Dagara, Shona, and Anishinaabe spiritual traditions. She holds an MES from York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies with a focus on art, performance and spiritual practices of the African diaspora.

Stories of Resistance: Disability and Madness as Political Aesthetics, 1-3pm @ 10C

How accessible and inclusive are our art communities really? Through the lens of disability justice we will reimagine a community space where our experiences of disability and mental health will be more than simply tolerated. Exploring the stories of resistance born out of Deaf, Disability, and Mad Arts movements will help us to understand that how we tell our stories matters. This community discussion is for people with lived experience of disability and mental health as well as our allies who see our efforts of justice and liberation as being inherently interconnected.

Jenna Reid headshot

Jenna Reid


Jenna Reid is a PhD candidate in Critical Disability Studies at York University, a lecturer in the emergent field of Mad Studies at Ryerson University, and works for Deaf Disability Mad Arts Alliance Canada. Jenna’s academic research and studio art practice focus on artistic production as a site of critical inquiry, community organizing, and political activism.

What translation teaches us about poetry, 1-3pm @ 10C

At its root, the word translation means carried across. If we start from this idea, we are forced to ask what are we carrying? and what are we crossing? This act of interrogating the link between word and meaning is fundamental to both poetry and translation.

In this workshop we will seek to pin down the elusive movement which allows meaning to leap from page to stage, language to language, word to emoji. (multilingualism adds additional layers to the content of this workshop, but all activities are accessible to monolingual folx)

Please bring a paper copy of one of your own poems (in any language).

photo of Alasdair



Alasdair is a fransaskois artist with fingers in many pies. He is a former Saskatoon individual poetry slam champion, has taught cultural studies at the University of Saskatchewan, and has served a term as the Regina Public Interest Research Group's Artist in Residence. His work has been exhibited across Western Canada and can be read in Urbania, GUTS, Revue Moebius, and ÖMËGÄ.

Saturday, November 3

B.E:H.E.A.R.D, 1-3pm @ 10C

Bringing Emotional Healing with Equity, Art, Respect, and Diversity

This workshop focuses on addressing the question: how can employing radical vulnerability through spoken word poetry help uncover our identity, find our purpose, as well as build connections and community? How can we shape our narrative of marginalized identity into empowerment?

In this workshop, students and attendees will begin by learning about spoken word poetry, the achieved growth from sharing personal truths, and the importance/impact of storytelling in community.

photo of Bassam



Bassam (they/them) is a (gender)queer, Middle-Eastern Jewish spoken word poet and settler residing on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. they are a member of the League of Canadian Poets, an executive board member with Spoken Word Canada, and has toured Turtle Island performing spoken word.

The Loneliest Number, 1-3pm @ Silence

Poetry may be considered one of the loneliest of lonely writing practices, but the collaborative possibilities of spoken word smash this conception! In “The Loneliest Number,” we’ll explore what happens when we play with others in poetry. A series of ice-breaking exercises open the door to weirdness and light risk-taking, before we break into groups for a free write. With new works in hand, each group will explore different approaches to crafting a group performance to be presented at the end. There will also be room for discussion, with a focus on the value and possibilities of exploring collaboration off the slam stage, and as a gateway to long-form creation.

Johnny MacRae headshot

Johnny MacRae


Johnny MacRae is a Vancouver-based spoken word artist, educator, and community organizer. He was named Victoria Spoken Word Festival Poet of Honour in 2013, and received the 2017 Zaccheus Jackson Memorial Award. Alongside shayne avec i grec, MacRae forms the longest-running collaborative act in Canadian spoken word, 2 Dope Boys in a Cadillac.

Past Poet of Honour Workshop, 1-3pm @ 10C

Raindrops have traded in their parachutes hoping to be called Ocean. Islands wake from dreams of being named Archipelago. Angela Davis perches lip against ear: “It is in collectives that we find reserves of hope and optimism”. Can you feel the flock of birds budding on your tongue? Come, gather, write, play and collaborate in this workshop, designed so that creative connection and thoughtful attention may release us from private story into a shared narrative of joy and possibility.

Jillian Christmas headshot

Jillian Christmas

Past Poet of Honour

Jillian Christmas was born and raised in Markham, Ontario. She currently lives on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people (Vancouver, BC.), where she served for six years as Artistic Director of Versəs Festival of Words. Jillian is an enthusiastic organizer and activist in the Canadian arts community, her focus being to increase anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. She has participated in, developed and executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod's Travelling Slam, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Opera, and the CULTCH Mentorship, and facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.

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