Background
 
Billeh Nickerson

“Spoken Word Artist” Themed "The Ultimate Cabaret," the 2010 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival was the largest to date, presenting 27 events in 4 cities, featuring over 100 artists, including: Tippy Agogo, Dijla Al-Rekabi, Sini Anderson, Alison Azer, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Joshua Bartolome, Jocko Benoit, bill bissett, Brian Brett, Wakefield Brewster, Regie Cabico, Kevan Cameron, Lori Cayer, T.L. Cowan, Adebe D.A., David Day, Baby Dee, Jannie Edwards, Tanya Evanson, The Fugitives, Keith Garebian, Louise B. Halfe, Vivian Hansen, Richard Harrison, Bob Holman, Penn Kemp, Donna Kennedy-Glans, Greg Kramer, Jen Kunlire, Cheryl L'Hirondelle, Laurie Macfayden, Rabiya Mansoor, Sid Marty, S. McDonald, Julie McNamara, Kirk Miles, Salma Mohiuddin, Kobus Moolman, Wendy Morton, Leilah Nadir, Billeh Nickerson, William Nichols, John Nowel, Alexis O'Hara, Orunamamu, evalyn parry, Missie Peters, Kirk Ramdath, Nikki Reimer, Éliz Robert, Matthew Robinson, Cenneth Sinclair, Douglas Burnet Smith, Steven Ross Smith, Michael V. Smith, The Incomporable Spoken Word Youth Choir, DJ Sublight, Drew Hayden Taylor, Sharon Thesen, Andrea Thompson, Trouble-FÊte ThÉÂtre, Rachna Vohra, Sheri-D Wilson, and Aisha Zaman.  Along with feature performances, there were panels, discussions, workshops, special events including "Banff to the World - Live to the Web" - broadcasting the creation of VideoPoems LIVE across North America.

In 2010, the Spoken Word Program at The Banff Centre, continued into its 3rd year. The program gave 15 participants the opportunity to spend 2 weeks at The Banff Centre, cultivating their craft under the instruction of renowned faculty members and workshop leaders. Sheri-D Wilson returned as the program director; its faculty members were: Regie Cabico, Bob Holman and Sheri-D Wilson; and its workshop leaders were: Louise Bernice Halfe, evalyn parry and Steven Ross Smith. 

The 2009 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival continued to grow, presenting 12 events, featuring over 60 artists, including: José Acquelin, Lillian Allen, Jill Battson, Derek beaulieu, Wakefield Brewster, Regie Cabico, Ivan E. Coyote, Nancy Jo Cullen, Dragon Fli Empire, John Giorno, Shane Koyczan, Jen Kunlire, Jeanette Lynes, Cory Mack, Raine Maida, Ras Michael and The Sons Of Negus, Billeh Nickerson, Orunamamu, evalyn parry, Hilary Peach, Robert Priest, Pierrette Requier, Anna Marie Sewell, Ali Riley, Michael V. Smith, Steven Ross Smith, Bob Stallworthy, Kinnie Starr, Steven J. Thompson, Uppercut, Tom Wayman, R.C. Weslowski, and Sheri-D Wilson. 

In 2009, the Spoken Word Program at The Banff Centre, continued into its 2nd year. The program gave 16 participants the opportunity to spend 2 weeks at The Banff Centre, cultivating their craft under the instruction of renowned faculty members and workshop leaders. Sheri-D Wilson returned as the program director; its faculty members were: José Acquelin, Lillian Allen and Sheri-D Wilson; and its workshop leaders were: Regie Cabico, and Ivan E. Coyote.

The 2008 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival saw the number of events rise to 11, featuring 43 artists: Shone Abet, Jose Acquelin, Asani, David Bateman, Colin Browne, Weyman Chan, François Charron, möe clark, Steven Collis, Ivan E. Coyote, Kris Demeanor, M.A.C. Farrant, Ian Ferrier, Hiromi Goto, Genni Gunn, Richard Harrison, Karen Hines, Karen Hofmann, Bob Holman, Clifton Joseph, Tchitala Nyota Kamba, D. Kimm, Tom Konyves, Dale Kwong, Cheryl L'Hirondelle, Patrick Lane, Michael McClure, Ras Mo, Dwayne Morgan, Wendy Morton, Sachiko Murakami, Sarah Murphy, Billeh Nickerson, Orunamamu, Sharron Proulx-Turner, Kirk Ramdath, Duke Redbird, Pierrette Requier, Geneviève Robichaud, Jordon Scott, Richard Stevenson, Fred Wah, and Sheri-D Wilson.  Along with special featured panel discussion on "What the heck is Spoken Word?", there was an exclusive Billeh Nickerson blog, where Billeh took the general public with his no-holds-barred trip through the ins-and-outs of the 2008 Festival.

 In 2008 the Spoken Word Program at The Banff Centre, which is linked to the Festival, became the 1st and (still) only Spoken Word Program in Canada.  This program gives 16 participants the opportunity to spend 2 weeks at The Banff Centre, cultivating their craft under the instruction of renowned faculty members.  Sheri-D Wilson is the program director and its inaugurated faculty members were Ian Ferrier, Bob Holman, D. Kimm and Sheri-D Wilson. 

In November 2008, in conjunction with SPOCAN, we held the 2008 National Slam & Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.  This Festival featured 55 of Canada's top Slam poets plus featured guests from across the country.  Teams competed were: Calgary, Halifax, Lanark County, Montreal, Ottawa, Southern Ontario Team, Toronto Poetry Slam, Up from the Roots Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg.  Special guests Möe Clark, shayne avec i grec, Clifton Joseph, D. Kimm, Sean McGarragle, Sarah Murphy, David Silverberg, Andrea Thompson, R.C. Weslowski, and Sheri-D Wilson headlined events, SLAM mastered and lead workshops throughout the week. 

At the 2007 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival, we produced 8 events featuring 35 Spoken Word Artists which included: Fortner Anderson, John Barton, David Bateman, Klyde Broox, Murdoch Burnett, Möe Clark, Ivan E. Coyote, Kris Demeanor, Dymphny Dronyk, Ian Ferrier, Tchitala Nyota Kamba, Kaie Kellough, Alexis Kienlen, D. Kimm, Cheryl L'Hirondelle, Raine Maida, Shannon Maguire, Brendan McLeod, Dwayne Morgan, Wendy Morton, Billeh Nickerson, Orunamamu, evalyn parry, Hilary Peach, Bill Richardson, Patria Rivera, Shane Rhodes, Ali Riley, Geneviève Robichaud, Caroline Szpak, Michael V. Smith, Andrea Thompson, RC Weslowski, Sheri-D Wilson, d'bi young, Gisèle Villeneuve. In 2007 we addressed the issue of under-represented voices which led us to new partnerships and event directions, with an event for queer voices, a francophone event, a women's circle. 

The society organized and co-produced the 2nd SWAN meeting at/with The Banff Centre in 2007. We invited 20 artists to participate in the 1st Spoken Word Pilot program, which lasted 7 days, and included 9 workshops as well as the actual SWAN meeting which took place over 3 days. 

In 2006, the Calgary Spoken Word Society exploded with activity! The 2006 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival was the biggest yet, with 8 fabulous events and a wild variety of readers: Shone Abet, bill bissett, Christian Bök, George Bowering, Wakefield Brewster, Jason Christie, Xstine Cook, T.L. Cowan, Ivan E. Coyote, T. Crane, Emily Elder, jon paul fiorentino, Catherine Kidd, Shane Koyczan, Dale Lee Kwong, Suzette Mayr, Sean McGarragle, Motion, Billeh Nickerson, Robert Priest, angela rawlings and Gregory Scofield. 

In February 2006, the Calgary Spoken Word Society launched the monthly Calgary Poetry Slam, giving up-and-coming poets the opportunity to perform their art. This led to the creation of the 1st Calgary Slam Team, which traveled to Toronto in October 2006 to compete in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. 

Brian Brett

In November 2006, we held th spektacular tribute 2 the brilliant bill bissett dansing in a hurricane uv stars, an extravagant multi-media tribute to the hugely influential Canadian artist, bill bissett! There were 2 events, featuring bill bissett, Christian Bök, Seth-Adrian Harris, Adeena Karasick, Steve McCaffery, Susan Musgrave, Jamie Reid, Linda Rogers and Sheri-D Wilson, performing tribute poems to bissett and excerpts of their own work. There was also a guerilla postering campaign, in which bissett's famous poem, "inkorrect thots", was plastered in inkorrect places across Calgary and internationally, and a special bill bissett blog where bissett was able to share his thoughts and dialogue with the general public. 

The 2005 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival expanded to include 28 artists in 4 events: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Lillian Allen, David Bateman, Jill Battson, Möe Clark, Ian Ferrier, ryan fitzpatrick, Vivian Hansen, Jill Hartman, Bob Holman, Fred Holliss, D. Kimm, frances kruk, Kevin Matthews, Sean McGarragle, Kirk Miles, Ken Mitchell, Dwayne Morgan, Orunamamu, Andre Rodrigues, Jem Rolls, Andrea Thompson, Quincy Troupe, Anne Waldman, Natalie Walschots, Andrew Wedderburn, RC Weslowski, Jonathan Wilcke and Sheri-D Wilson. 

Also in 2005, the Calgary Spoken Word Society initiated a Spoken Word Summit Meeting at the Banff Centre, which brought together 16 artists and presenters from across North America to network and collaborate. This was the 1st meeting of its kind, and led to the creation of the Spoken Word Arts Network (SWAN)

Held in 2004, the 1st annual Calgary International Spoken Word Festival was a rousing success, consisting of 4 events and artists from across Canada: J Alary, Lillian Allen, Christopher Blais, Jason Christie, George Elliott Clarke, Ivan E. Coyote, T. Crane, Lorna Crozier, Myra Davies, Carmen Derksen, Diane di Prima, Emily Elder, ryan fitzpatrick, Jill Hartman, Paul Kennett, Kirk Miles, Dwayne Morgan, Ali Riley, Andre Rodrigues, Jem Rolls, Gregory Scofield, Natalie Simpson, Bob Stallworthy and Sheri-D Wilson. 

The Calgary Spoken Word Society was created in November 2003 by poet Sheri-D Wilson, and received its charitable tax status in 2006. Influenced by its founder's passion, the Society's vision is to develop a forum for the dissemination and promotion of Spoken Word Poetry locally, provincially, nationally and internationally, through performance and education.

Birds © 2012 Calgary Spoken Word Society