Brendan McLeod, Zaccheus Jackson, Amber Dawn, Geoff Berner, Christie Rose

Spoken word is poetry, comedy, storytelling, music, all the spaces between these genres – and the fastest-growing art form in Canada.

The Spoken Word Marquee Series, presented as part of the 2014 Verses Festival of Words, will showcase the leaders and revolutionaries in these forms as well as the outliers and the synthesizers fusing together new hybrids from multiple genres. The shows highlight a new wave of 21st century word artists who are less book-centric and more interested in the re-emerging oral tradition.

Gender Failure
[Gender Failure]

The mission of the Verses Festival of Words is to celebrate the transformative power of words – written, spoken or sung; to engage diverse groups in cutting-edge, live performances as both audience and participants; to present influential artists from both the oral and literary traditions, and to encourage the next generation of performers and writers.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with the presenters of the longest running slam in Canada.

Here’s a rundown of the festival’s Marquee Series. For more information on the festival, including the Fourth Annual Canadian Indie Poetry Slam Championships (CIPS, April 10 to 12), visit the Versus Festival website and follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag #VS14.

Shut the Front Door!

Date: April 6, 1 pm
Venue: Astorino’s, 1739 Venables Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $10/$12
Blurring the line between stand up and spoken word means high-octane fun with Cheryl Maddalena, Sara Bynoe, Fernando Raguero, Al Mader, and Graham Clark.

Jangle & Shout

Date: April 6, 8 pm
Venue: Astorino’s, 1739 Venables Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $12/$15 

A literary soirée with a wild side, featuring Amber Dawn, Zaccheus Jackson, Christie Rose, Brendan McLeod, and Geoff Berner.

Sounds Like Fire

Date: April 7, 8 pm
Venue: Astorino’s, 1739 Venables Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $15/$18

A journey through poetic language and experience with the powerhouse performers Magpie Ulysses, James Lamb, Robert Lashley, and d’bi.young.

Gender Failure

Date: April 9, 8 pm
Venue: Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway, Vancouver
Tickets: $20/$25

An acclaimed multimedia show featuring the powerful storytelling of Ivan Coyote and the ethereal voice of Rae Spoon, plus the official launch of Gender Failure published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Shake Yo’ Fist

Date: April 10, late show following CIPS
Venue: Café Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Tickets: $10

Late night show with deeply spirited, at times hilarious, and always inspired work of activist-poets Lishai Peel and Janice Lee. Admission includes entrance to all Day 2 Canadian Indie Poetry Slam Championships.

Sheri-D Wilson, James Lamb, Ikenna ‘OpenSecret’ Onyegbula, Billeh Nickerson
[Sheri-D Wilson, James Lamb, Ikenna ‘OpenSecret’ Onyegbula, Billeh Nickerson]

Word Circus

Date: April 12, 1 pm
Venue: Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Tickets: $10/$12
A whirlwind of words strikes as Sheri-D Wilson, James Lamb, Ikenna ‘OpenSecret’ Onyegbula, and Billeh Nickerson blur the line between stage and page.

d'bi Young

Featured Artists

d’bi.young is an internationally-celebrated African-Jamaican-Canadian and dubpoet monodramist educator. She’s the recipient of two Dora Mavor Moore Awards, the K.M. Hunter Theatre Award, Toronto Mayor’s Arts Council Award, the Women of Resilience Award, the Canadian Poet of Honour Award and the Best Spoken Word Artist Award. d’bi will also teach a masterclass on April 8.

Geoff Berner has performed internationally (in 18 countries) as a singer/songwriter/accordionist, has recorded seven albums, and has written for Sesame Street. His first novel, Festival Man, was published by Dundurn Press last year and has been optioned for a feature film.

Sheri-D Wilson is the Mama of Dada and Artistic Director of the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival. Her Goddess Gone Fishing for a Map of the Universe is the first poetry book to use QR Codes connecting to video/audio/and interactive talk-back. In 2009, CBC declared her one of Canada’s Top 10 poets. Sheri-D will teach a spoken word masterclass on April 11.

Zaccheus Jackson came of age on the streets of Western Canada. Having battled through addiction and apathy, Zaccheus has twice been honoured to represent Vancouver and Western Canada at the Individual World Poetry Slam, as well as tying for third at the inaugural Canadian Individual Poetry Slam in 2011. Infusing rapid-fire delivery, gritty street tales, and intricate rhyme patterns with social criticism, this ‘East Van ghetto poet’ wowed us at the Talking Stick Opening Gala earlier this year.


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