bill bissett (with guest vocalist Honey Novick and Wesley Rickert) and MLA Chernoff at University of Waterloo on Nov. 16, 2022

bill bissett and MLA Chernoff performed live on Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the Chapel of St. Bede, Renison University College, University of Waterloo. This event was co-sponsored by the University of Waterloo and the Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, with support from the Arts First Pedagogical Enhancement Fund at University of Waterloo, the League of Canadian Poets, and Canada Council for the Arts. It was linked to the annual 100 Thousand Poets for Change global poetry initiative organized by Michael Rothenberg, held in over 700 international locations. Sadly, Michael died immediately after the event, so we were unable to send him the link to view it.

Described by Jack Kerouac as “one of the great poets,” bill bissett is an internationally acclaimed language poet, artist, and musician. He is the author of more than 60 books of poetry. Safia Southey observes, “bissett dispenses with standard written English (initial capitals, spelling, and punctuation), connecting with language on an elemental level that some reviewers have considered shaman-like.” Frank Davey has described him as “rejecting the conventional or ‘straight’ world . . . not only in lifestyle but in ruthless alterations to conventional syntax.” bill is a spellbinding performance artist who had delighted audiences at the Elora Poetry Centre on two previous occasions coordinated with 100 Thousand Poets for Change. This time bill was accompanied by Metroland Media 2021 Urban Hero winner Honey Novick, poet and singer, as well as writer, director & producer Wesley Rickert, who gave virtuosic performances of sound poetry.


Gordon Hill Press, publisher of MLA Chernoff’s recent collection [Squelch Procedures], notes on its website that “MLA Chernoff (they/ them/@citation_bb) was born at Women’s College Hospital in December of 1991–oops. They are a six-hundred-year-old Jewish, non-binary pome machine, a Postmodern Neo-Marxist, and (somehow) a PhD Candidate of the Neoliberal University of York University, where they once held a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship–no kidding.” MLA had delivered a stunning virtual performance for students at Renison University College and friends of the Elora Poetry Centre back in January 2022, but seeing him perform live was truly memorable. He was introduced by Jeremy Luke Hill, his publisher, who recollected how bowled over he had been the first time he heard MLA give a live reading, and everybody in the audience soon understood why.

Although staged for ARTS 130 at University of Waterloo, the event was open to the Renison and University of Waterloo communities, friends of the Elora Poetry Centre, and general public. It was filmed by Robert Laurin of Waterloo Studio and can be viewed on YouTube:

MLA Chernoff Virtual Poetry Performance Jan. 31

Renison University College and the Elora Poetry Centre co-sponsored, with funding from the League of Canadian Poets and Canada Council, a virtual poetry performance by MLA Chernoff

     1.00—2.20 p.m.  Monday 31 January 2022 

MLA CHERNOFF (they/them/@citation_bb) was born at Women’s College Hospital in December of 1991––oops. They are a six-hundred-year-old Jewish, non-binary pome machine, a Postmodern Neo-Marxist, and (somehow) a PhD Candidate at the Neoliberal University of York University, where they once held a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship––no kidding.Their first chapbook, delet this, was released by Bad Books in 2018. Their second collection, TERSE THIRSTY, was released by Gap Riot Press in 2019. Their debut full-length collection of poetry, [SQUELCH PROCEDURES], is now available from Gordon Hill Press.

In [SQUELCH PROCEDURES], MLA Chernoff contemplates the ways that trauma, poverty, and strict gender norms rupture the concept of childhood. The tension of multiple meanings in the word “squelch” acts as a guide to Chernoff’s unique voice, which uses language to swaddle intrusive thoughts and mimic defense mechanisms such as avoidance, depersonalization, and derealization. [SQUELCH PROCEDURES] is an ambitious attempt to show how healing and regression are often indistinguishable, while the past is always predisposed to happen more than once: first as tragedy, then as farce.

Live Reading by croc E moses at 4:00 on Tuesday, April 6

croc E moses performed Rhythm as My Mother Tongue

Funded by The League of Canadian Poets and The Canada Council for the Arts

Co-sponsored by the Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery and Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Photo credit: Open Book Festival croc E moses – Open Book Festival

croc E read and recited a selection of material inspired by the interplay of the natural elements in Southern Africa and Grey County where he is presently based.

Here is the YouTube link to this event:

Virtual Panel Discussion on Literary Appropriation in Canada: Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, 1:30-3:00 P.M.

In | Appropriate

The Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, in conjunction with Renison University College, University of Waterloo, hosted a synchronous panel discussion on Canadian literary appropriation. Growing out of interviews on this subject recently published in Gordon Hill Press’s In/Appropriate, this event was open to members of ARTS 130, friends of The Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, and the general public.

The panel included Jeremy Luke Hill (publisher), Kim Davids Mandar (editor), and three contributors to In/Appropriate: Farzana Doctor, Wayne Grady, and Mahak Jain. (Please see links for biographies below.)

Here is the video link to the synchronous discussion:

Assistance was provided by Victoria Feth of The Centre for Teaching Excellence at University of Waterloo.

The event was sponsored by two long-time friends of The Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, Janice Ferri and Peter Skoggard.

The Elora Poetry Centre was excited to engage in present discourse on literary appropriation in Canada. It was our pleasure to host these five distinguished panelists who are helping to determine the direction that Canadian literature will take in the near future. In light of recent controversies that resulted in the publication of another important book on the current state of Canadian literature, Refuse: CanLit in Ruins, we want to be part of these discussions.

Here are the biographical links:


10 August 2019 — 4.00 p.m. Confluence of Words & Music

We were very excited to have Rae Crossman , well known poet on both radio and stage, and Tilly Kooyman, distinguished clarinetist of international acclaim, perform at the Elora Poetry Centre. 

Confluence of Words and Music

Poetry of Rae Crossman with Music Performed by Clarinetist Tilly Kooyman

Featuring Compositions by R. Murray Schafer

In this presentation, language and music flow together to evoke misty dawns, forest hikes, and river passages. Listen to bird song, cataract chants, and wind wail. Touch the tip of a young spruce. Read the rough calligraphy of bear marks. See an amber bead of sap lanced with light. Marvel morning.

Living in Kitchener, Rae Crossman writes poetry both for the page and for oral performance. His poems have been published in literary magazines, broadcast on CBC Radio, dramatized on stage, performed and recorded as vocal music, and displayed on transit systems across Canada. Collaborative projects include storytelling, choral compositions, and theatrical pieces set in natural environments.For more than twenty-five years, in canoes and along forest trails, Rae has lived the roles of several mythological characters in R. Murray Schafer’s Theatre of Confluence. He has served as a short story editor for The New Quarterly and has received a Waterloo Region Arts Award for his artistic endeavours across disciplines.

Guelph clarinetist Tilly Kooyman is an active solo, chamber and orchestral musician, with particular interests in contemporary music, interdisciplinary works and sound ecology. She has performed across Canada and toured Japan with the Higashi-Hiroshima Clarinet Ensemble. An advocate for Canadian music, Tilly has premiered many works by Canadian composers at the World Bass Clarinet Convention in the Netherlands, the International Bohlen-Pierce Symposium in Boston, and with various ensembles broadcast on CBC Radio.

Tilly and Rae have frequently collaborated as members of the performance group SlanT, and have appeared together at the Open Ears Festival, Stratford Summer Music Festival, International Clarinetfest, Narrative Matters Conference, Soundstreams, and other events. For three decades they have participated in R. Murray Schafer’s Patria works and drawn inspiration from his call for art to be transformational. “What is the purpose of art? First, exaltation. Let us speak of that.”

Jeremy Luke Hill’s Poetry of Thought

Book Launch: 29 June 2019, 4:00 p.m. Jeremy Luke Hill’s Poetry of Thought has been published by Interludes of the Elora Poetry Centre. Luke read from and signed his new chapbook. Music was by Adam and Rain, an acoustic duo who play folk/roots inspired original music, and uniquely interpreted covers.

Luke is the publisher at Gordon Hill Press, based in Guelph. He is also the Managing Director of Vocamus Writers Community, a non-profit community organization that supports book culture in Guelph.

He has written a collection of poetry, short prose, and photography called Island Pieces. Other works include three chapbooks of poetry called Can Con, Trumped, and These My Streets; two poetry broadsheets called Grounded and Indexical; and an ongoing series of poetry broadsheets called Conversations with Viral Media. He also writes a semi-regular column on chapbooks for The Town Crier. His writing has appeared in The Bull Calf, CV2, EVENT Magazine, Filling Station, Free Fall, The Goose, HA&L, The Maynard, paperplates, Queen Mob’s Tea House, The Rusty Toque, The Town Crier, The Windsor Review.


Asa Boxer and Max Layton

28 July 3.30 p.m.

A perfect summer afternoon was the setting of a double-bill of two esteemed poets, Asa Boxer and Max Layton, both sons of poets who emerged from Montreal in the 1950’s.  Asa read from his new chap book Field Notes From the Undead (published by the Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery/Interludes) and earlier publications The Mechanical Bird and Skullduggery, along with some wonderful new material composed since his last visit.  Tilly Kooyman provided a creative accompaniment to parts of the reading on her clarinet.  Max, eldest son of Irving Layton, read from several of his works, including his latest book of poems LIKE, which has just been published by Guernica Editions, after opening with three of his songs, on which he accompanied himself on the guitar.  A short discussion followed in the house and garden, with a buffet and drinks. Tom Althouse of Silk Purse Recordings, Elora, has agreed to assist us in archiving this and future events.

croc E Moses

25 August 4.00 p.m.

croc E Moses, whom several of you may have met here last year, read from a wide range of poems and songs from his thirty years in South Africa.  He topped it off with some new material written since he returned to Canada, where he has been living in rural Ontario.


bill bissett and Brian Henderson

29 September 2018

This was another double bill to celebrate Michael Rothenberg’s annual global initiative 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE. 

It was a day to promote peace & social change with emphasis on the needs of all children. bill bissett, accompanied by pete dako, returned for a half reading, continuing from their colourful range of work of the previous year. 000085190005

Our other featured poet was Brian Henderson, who has now retired as Director of Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Brian has eleven publications, the latest being [OR] from Talonbooks. Nerve Language (2007) was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Brian read from his twelfth publication, Unidentified Poetic Object, forthcoming from Brick in spring 2019.

Both bill bissett and Brian Henderson were sponsored by The Canada Council for the Arts and The Writers’ Union of Canada. Morvern McNie and Jerry Prager rounded out the poetry performances.

A highlight of the day was The Voices of the Anatolian Girls, with Ali Ihsan Okan playing the kanun, and Mehlika Altay and Betul Okan singing. They delivered a powerful performance dedicated to the children presently imprisoned in Turkey.

Afterwards, everybody enjoyed the usual finger food and drinks, with people mingling and sharing their thoughts on the day’s memorable performances.

Asa Boxer Reading

7 April 2018

Asa Boxer read from his newer works, accompanied by Tilly Kooyman on the clarinet.  A lengthy discussion period followed, after which there was the usual finger food and drinks.  Asa’s new chapbook, Field Notes from the Undead, will be published at his reading at the poetry centre 28th of July.  Copies will be available for purchase.