D’bi.Young Anitafrika

Born in Kingston Jamaica and raised by pioneer Dub poet Anita Stewart, D’bi grew up amongst artist-activist-educators who embodied the connections between art, social change and leadership in a neocolonial world. Twenty-five years later, the focus of her research at Goldsmiths, University of London, is the Anitafrika Method: a critical-creative praxis that emerges from Jamaica’s socio-political Dub culture  (music, poetry and theatre), informed by decolonial queer Black feminisms, intersectionality, pan-Africanisms and Black diaspora spiritualities. The method is an approach to performance training, creative devising and self-development that provides the practitioner — particularly those who identify as womxn and BIQTPOC (Black, Indigenous, Queer, Trans, People of Colour) — with tools to navigate the entanglement of gender, race, class, sexuality and ability; thereby giving us  a reflexive social justice framework to enact in art making. Anitafrika’s keynote will reflect on her process of devising the method and its impact on the Canadian cultural landscape through her own solo shows and those of playwright-performers who studied  with her at the Watah Theatre from 2008-2018.

D_bi Young Anitafrika 2 by Wade Hudson

From touring the world as a Dubpoet, to curating international residencies for artists in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa and Europe, to being heralded as a Womxn of Distinction in the Arts, the creative endeavors of African Jamaican D’bi Young Anitafrika are globally celebrated. A triple Dora award-winning published playwright-performer (of nine plays, seven books and seven Dubpoetry albums), director-dramaturge and educator-scholar, Anitafrika is also the creator of the intersectional Black feminist praxis — the Anitafrika Method. She is the founding Artistic Director Emeritus of the Watah Theatre where she taught emerging and established BIQTPOC artists in Canada (2008-2018) and the founding Creative Director of the Anitafrika Retreat Centre where she teaches artists globally. Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and the human experience, through her radical interdisciplinary arts practices, Anitafrika is currently engaged in postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching the Praxes, Politics and Pedagogies of Black Performance, the Anitafrika Method and Theatre of Ritual Self Recovery.

Joshua Whitehead

Joshua_whitehead
Joshua Whitehead

To be Indigenous is to walk continually with one’s ancestors; to be Two-Spirit is to survive continually with a body that houses multitudes. Madeleine Thien, in her review of Katherena Vermette’s The Break notes that “the lives of the girls and women…are not easy, but their voices lay bear what it means to survive, not only once, but multiple times”. In Memory Serves, Lee Maracle argues that Indigenous oratories are imbued with concatenation, of working towards a oneness that is always sacred. So then I ask: what does it mean to be multiplicitous? In my talk I will explore the ways in which 2SQ writing seeks to not only invoke the sacred for Indigenous concatenations, but also to narrate that which is scared to shatter settler colonial ideologies through the idea of ferality (defined by the OED as being “in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication). I will ask: how does fear energize recuperation? How does love inform the scared/sacred? And how does ferality inform orality? I will attempt to answer these questions through the kinship of my nêhiyâw (Cree) protagonists: ZOA (full-metal indigiqueer), Jonny (Jonny Appleseed) and an etymological survey of nêhiyâwewin (Cree language).

Joshua Whitehead is an Ojibwe-Cree (nehiyaw) 2SQ member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017) and Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018). Currently, he is completing a Ph.D. in English at the University of Calgary (Treaty 7).

Christian Bök

When Murray Gell-Mann borrows the word “quark” from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce in order to name the constituents of the nucleon, the physicist evokes an “atomism” that has transected theories of both matter and poetry since the time of Lucretius.

With the advances made by Gell-Man in quantum physics, IBM has, in turn, used a tunneling microscope to position 35 atoms of xenon on a plate of cooled nickel so that these dots of matter might spell out the trigram for the company, thereby producing the smallest artifact so far manufactured by humanity.


The logo, in effect, consists of letters made from atoms that might recombine to make other letters for other texts. How might matter itself become an anagram for such elemental alphabets? If the poets of Conceptualism study the “limit-cases” of writing, then surely these atomic scales of expression must fall within the ambit of such “conceptual literature” (as seen, for example, in The Xenotext, which uses biogenetic encryption to encode a message in proteomic molecules). All “concepts” for poetry may, in fact, depend upon a premise about the minimal element of composition for a text — its unit, or its “atom,” from which a poem might build a poetics through recombinant permutation. This lecture explores the scales of such textuality (from atomic to cosmic), zooming outward from the Planck length to the Hubble bubble.

Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök is currently working on The Xenotext — a project that requires him to encipher a poem into the genome of a bacterium capable of surviving in any inhospitable environment. Bök is a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, and he teaches at Charles Darwin University.

To be Indigenous is to walk continually with one’s ancestors; to be Two-Spirit is to survive continually with a body that houses multitudes. Madeleine Thien, in her review of Katherena Vermette’s The Break notes that “the lives of the girls and women…are not easy, but their voices lay bear what it means to survive, not only once, but multiple times”. In Memory Serves, Lee Maracle argues that Indigenous oratories are imbued with concatenation, of working towards a oneness that is always sacred. So then I ask: what does it mean to be multiplicitous? In my talk I will explore the ways in which 2SQ writing seeks to not only invoke the sacred for Indigenous concatenations, but also to narrate that which is scared to shatter settler colonial ideologies through the idea of ferality (defined by the OED as being “in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication). I will ask: how does fear energize recuperation? How does love inform the scared/sacred? And how does ferality inform orality? I will attempt to answer these questions through the kinship of my nêhiyâw (Cree) protagonists: ZOA (full-metal indigiqueer), Jonny (Jonny Appleseed) and an etymological survey of nêhiyâwewin (Cree language).

Jordan Abel

Jordan Abel will perform from his latest work NISHGA—a project that attempts to illuminate the history of residential schools in Canada and the realities of intergenerational trauma. While NISHGA is an autobiographical project, the work here also occupies the often overlapping and converging spaces of concrete poetry, photography, scholarly research, and research-creation. This artist talk will be accompanied by a performance of the work.

Jordan Abel is a Nisga’a writer from Vancouver. He is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, and Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize). Abel’s latest project NISHGA (forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in 2020) is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence and the often invisible intergenerational impact of residential schools. Abel is finishing off a PhD at Simon Fraser University, and he is currently teaching Indigenous Literatures and Creative Writing at the University of Alberta.

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