Not okay

Non-binary jaye simpson (left) describes the trauma of being told they were a boy in their debut poetry collection, “it was never going to be okay.” FULL STORY

Landscape of a racialized life

June 19th, 2020

The poems of spoken word activist, Jillian Christmas are expressive of her family history, queer lineage, and “the political landscape of a racialized life.”

In response to her first book of poetry, The Gospel of Breaking (Arsenal $14.95), novelist David Chariandy described Christmas’s spoken word texts as “incantatory and disarming, sensitive and cerebral, fiercely defiant and courageously tender.”

In an interview with Rob Taylor for Read Local, she said, “On the page, that immediate feedback is absent, but there is still opportunity to create an arc, a flow that moves the reader from one emotional landscape to another. As for the applause, I have an excellent imagination.”

Jillian Christmas, who teaches poetry through word play exercises and whose work often focusses on anti-oppression initiatives, has developed programs and workshops in partnership with the Toronto Poetry Project, UBC, Vancouver Opera, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod’s Travelling Slam, CULTCH Mentorship and the Museum of Anthropology.

Born and raised in Markham, Ontario, with lineage from Trinidad and Tobago, Christmas served for six years as Artistic Director of Verses Festival of Words. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, Matrix New Queer Writing (issue 98), The Post Feminist Post, Plenitude Magazine, Room and The Great Black North anthology edited by Wayde Compton.

“I love hard as I know how,” she says in the poem, do not feed.

9781551527970

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