On Friday, Jan. 19, Vancouver-based spoken-word powerhouses Jillian Christmas and Lucia Misch will be performing at Poetry Out Loud at 7:30 p.m. at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt. This is not your average poetry reading; these women perform in a big way.
The event is produced by Sunday in the Park with Pride Society (SPPS), the folks who brought you Pride Week, a celebration of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, 2-spirit (LGBTQ2), and the informative magazine Pride Guide. Everyone is welcome to this event – all ages, all genders and orientations. Admission is by donation.
Christmas serves as artistic director of VersƏs Festival of Words. She is an enthusiastic organizer and activist, her focus being to increase anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. She has facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.
Since getting her start as a champion youth slam poet in the Bay Area, Misch has performed at events across North America that range from literary festivals to labour union conventions, from showcases in ornate theatres to house shows in someone’s basement. A veteran arts educator, Misch is committed to helping young people step into their creative, personal and political power through writing.
In addition to the performance, the two artists will be offering two Festival of the Written Arts-sponsored workshops in the high schools, as well as a workshop specifically for LGBTQ2 and allies youth the following day, Saturday, Jan. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. called Queering Poetry and Perspective. This workshop is co-hosted by the Sechelt Public Library and takes place at the Seaside Centre. The workshop is for youth 12 to 25 and is free with registration. Email Laurie Lesk at email@example.com or phone 604-740-8110.
Sunday in the Park with Pride Society began with a picnic event in 2015, and since that time, it has evolved into an organization dedicated to creating community for LGBTQ2 youth on the Coast, hosting youth and all-ages events. Volunteer organizer Lesk describes it as “awesome and exhausting.” She has been working with the Gay-Straight Alliances in the high schools and she learned that, after talking with those in the front lines of services such as mental health, there was nothing available for the 18 to 30 year olds once they age out of the system. SPPS has expanded their profile and their scope to work year round.
“I don’t always want it to be a big party (like Pride month),” Lesk said. “We are trying to integrate it into the rest of the year as well.”
She stresses that these workshops are open to allies as well as those who identify as LGBTQ2. Her own eyes were opened to the importance of allies during the first major Pride march on the Coast when people of all orientations turned out to show their support. At last year’s Pride in the Park day she put up a tent that bore the slogan, “We’re here for you(th)” and invited young people to come under the tent and meet their allies from the community.
“If young people leave the Coast,” she said, “the reason is not going to be because of homophobia here.” See www.prideguide.ca for more.