2024 Festival:
October 21–27

50: Poems for the Twelfth Hour

50: Poems for the Twelfth Hour

Join five poets at the height of their prowess as they share works from their new collections and speak to the urgency of poetry in today’s world. Amidst such turmoil, art is increasingly important. Poems reclaim the power of words and the grace of ideas to shape renewal and hope. Gather strength for a world on the edge with Otoniya Okot Bitek (A is for Acholi), Gillian Jerome (Nevertheless: Walking Poems), John Freeman (Wind, Trees), Brendan McLeod (Friends Without Bodies), and Cecily Nicholson (Harrowings). This will be an event of discovery—of new poets, of ways of seeing the world—and succor, with some of the most exciting, compassionate minds in poetry. Moderated by Aislinn Hunter.

Event Participants:

Otoniya Okot Bitek

OTONIYA OKOT BITEK is a poet and scholar. Her collection, 100 Days, won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award. In 2020 and 2021, Bitekwas the Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence and a SFU Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellow. She is an assistant professor of Black Creativity at Queen’s University. (ONTARIO)

John Freeman

JOHN FREEMAN is the founder of the literary annual Freeman’s, and an executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. His books include How To Read a Novelist, Dictionary of the Undoing, and the poetry collections Wind, Trees (2022); Maps; and The Park. He is a Writer in Residence at New York University.

Aislinn Hunter

AISLINN HUNTER is the author of eight highly acclaimed books, including the bestseller The Certainties and The World Before Us, winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Her work has been adapted into music, dance, art, and film forms—including a feature film based on her novel Stay. She teaches creative writing part-time. (BRITISH COLUMBIA)

Gillian Jerome

GILLIAN JEROME is a mother, writer, and teacher. Nevertheless: Walking Poems is her long-awaited second collection. Her first book of poems, Red Nest, won the 2010 ReLit Award for Poetry. She co-edited Hope in Shadows: Stories and Photographs from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which won the 2008 City of Vancouver Book Award. (BRITISH COLUMBIA)

Brendan McLeod

BRANDON MCLEOD is the author of Friends Without Bodies and The Convictions of Leonard McKinley. His music group The Fugitives have been nominated for the Canadian Folk Music Awards, as well as a Juno. He was the Poet of Honour at the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. (ONTARIO)

Cecily Nicholson

CECILY NICHOLSON is the author of Harrowings and three other books, and recipient of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. She works in gallery education, teaches at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and collaborates with communities impacted by carcerality and food insecurity. (BRITISH COLUMBIA)