Need Poetry? VERSeFest 2013 is coming in March!


As you may know, I recently signed on as one of the Co-Directors of Tree Reading Series in Ottawa. Tree has been one of the champions of VERSe Ottawa and the Ottawa poetry festival that it organizes, VERSeFest.

I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a bit about VERSeFest and do a bit of promotion on its behalf.


In 2011, Ottawa experienced the first VERSeFest poetry festival. A collaborative effort by the various poetry groups in Ottawa, it was organized in only a few short months, but was quite successful. The second festival in 2012 was ambitious, bringing Spoken Word, workshops and such poets as the well known American poet,Rae Armantrout. Fred Wah, now Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate. The winner of Mexico’s most prestigious poetry prize, Pura Lopez-Colome.  Phil Hall, 2011 Governor General’s Award winner.

Phil Levine by David Shankbone, New York City

Phil Levine by David Shankbone, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The US poet Laureate Philip Levine.

So what is coming in 2013?  Well the schedule is still being finalized. But so far, we have the first winner of the Montreal International Poetry Prize, Mark Tredinnick, from Australia. We have Canadian poets, A.F. Moritz, Chris Jennings, Catherine Owen, Stuart Ross and Don McKay. The Women’s Slam Team. Rob Winger, Anita Lahey. Lady Katalyst. Luna Allison. Emilie Zoey Baker, Samuel Watson.

I’m sure I’ve missed some, and that there are more names to be announced. You can watch this space for info coming soon:

For a flavour of what’s to come, Rod Pederson, one of the VERSe Ottawa committee key members, has put together a video here:  

You can hear Rod here. You’re encouraged to watch. We hope you will feel as excited as we are to attend.  

And that you’ll donate if you can :

No-Comfort Zone Dec. 16, 2012


This week marked the retirement from Tree Reading Series of Director, Rod Pederson, after 5 years of excellent work promoting and advancing poetry in Ottawa. We’ve seen the launching of Ottawa’s own poetry festival, VERSeFest, the addition of the Tree Seeds Workshops, Master Workshops with some of Canada’s leading poets, and reading events with major voices in Canadian poetry. Three new Directors will share the Directorship going forward: Margaret Malloch Zielinksi, Deanna Young, and yours truly, Carol A. Stephen. We are all looking forward to being part of the literary scene in Ottawa, with the assistance of David Currie, as the new Admin.

To say goodbye to Rod, Tree held a special tribute at Arts Court on Tuesday, December 11th, with readings by regular attendees at the open mics, as well as board members. There was also a play with Rod as King, his wife Liz Bertholdi as Queen, Murray Citron as Merlin, David O’Meara as Sir David of the Manx. peppered the performance by repeating his line at random, “What the heck does that mean?” as well as providing a little swordplay with Kevin Matthews played Sir Kevin Hoboken Spoken, David Currie was the able Jester. Rona Shaffran portrayed Guinevere with her husband as Sir Brian Lancelot (Laughs a Lot) doing his version of Groucho Marx. Claudia Coutu Radmore was Lady Claudia, both MC and playwright. Her husband portrayed Sir Ted of the Red Moor, complete with fancy plumed hat. The previous director, Dean Steadman, also appeared as the old King. The three incoming Directors were the Supreme Duchesses, with Margaret stealing the scene as a regal duchess visiting the colonies. Margaret’s Scottish/British accent added much to that role!  After the play, the audience and cast feasted on a buffet with contributions by everyone. Rod is known for his mismatched two-different-colour socks, so many of the people attending had socks on their hands to wave, or mismatched gloves, but Brian Cook outdid us all with his special hat sporting two stuffed socks on top!

Brian Cook ably manned the video camera for the evening so we’re hoping to see it all again here now that the video is up on the Tree website. Meanwhile though, here are photos that Pearl Pirie, Pesbo, took at the event:

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No-Comfort Zone Week ending Aug. 19

This past week, I suppose the biggest breakthrough for me was as a featured reader at Tree Reading Series.  I think it was the wonderful commentary

open mic host: Rod Pederson

open mic host: Rod Pederson (Photo credit: pesbo)

by Rod Pederson as he introduced me that made me so relaxed, because at one point I leaned my arm casually against the lectern as if I had been there all my life. (Well, not ALL my life…)

I launched my second chapbook as well, which was another push forward with my poetry, so I was most pleased about that too.

I don’t mean to go on and on about this event, but it really is quite a nice honour to be selected as a Hot Ottawa Voice. And congrats on that to my fellow hotties, once again, David Blaikie, Shai Ben Shalom, and Guy Simser.

Here is a link to my reading that night.

You can also access each of the other readers at the Tree Reading Series site, under Videos.