Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Second Love Poetry Festival honouring Milton Acorn and Gwen MacEwen

Milton Acorn and Gwendolyn MacEwen
The Love Poetry Festival is the brainchild of the poet George Elliott Clarke, Canada's seventh Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Co-organizers George and Michelle Alfano, Founder of the (Not So) Nice Italian Girls & Friends Reading Series, worked together to create the first annual Love Poetry Festival in honour of Milton Acorn and Gwen MacEwen held on Centre Island, where the couple lived for a few years in the 1960s. 

On August 6, 2016, the first Love Poetry Festival was held at the historic St. Andrew by the Lake Anglican Church before a generous and appreciative crowd that filled the beautiful church.

The second annual Love Poetry Festival was held at the exquisite new bookstore, Queen Books, in Toronto on July 29, 2017. The lineup was another exciting, inclusive gathering of those who knew Milton and Gwen and newer voices who came to pay homage to the poets as a couple and as poetic icons. 

George Elliott Clarke, 7th Parliamentary Poet
and co-emcee introduces the event

The multi-talented Charlie Petch
leads the first set

Poet and musician Robert Priest

Poets James Deahl & Norma West Linder,
contemporaries of Milton and Gwen 
Lovely Norma reads ... 

Bänoo Zan,  founder of Shab-e She'r
poetry series

Poet Pat Connors, the pride of Scarborough ... 
... and all round sweet guy. 
Descant Editor-in-Chief, poet, style icon ...
Karen Mulhallen 

George concludes the evening
in his own inimitable way ...

Poetry lover Michelle Alfano, co-emcee
and co-organizer

Best ... crowd ... ever. 

We acknowledge the support of the Toronto Arts Council and the League of Canadian Poets. With special thanks to Alex Snider and her fantastic colleagues at Queen Books. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Second Annual Love Poetry Festival


The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17), George
Elliott Clarke is a revered wordsmith. He is a noted artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry.  Now teaching African-Canadian literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, Premiul Poesis (Romania), Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. Mr. Clarke’s work is the subject of Africadian Atlantic: Essays on George Elliott Clarke (2012), edited by Joseph Pivato.

Pat Connors first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was published by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. Part-Time Contemplative , released last year, was his second chapbook with Lyricalmyrical.  He is a manager for the Toronto Chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change.

James Deahl is the author of twenty-seven literary titles, the four most recent being: To Be With A Woman, Landscapes (with Katherine L. Gordon), Unbroken Lines, and Two Paths Through The Seasons (with Norma West Linder). A cycle of his poems is the focus of a one-hour television special, Under the Watchful Eye. His Red Haws To Light The Field will be published in September by Guernica Editions. He lives in Sarnia.

Norma West Linder is the author of six novels, a volume of selected short fiction, fifteen collections of poetry including Adder’s-tongues: A Choice of Norma West Linder’s Poems, 1969 – 2011, a memoir of growing up on Manitoulin Island, two children’s/young adult novels, and a biography of Pauline McGibbon. Her sixth novel, Tall Stuff, was recently published. She also lives in Sarnia.

Karen Mulhallen has published a pile of books, lots of poetry, interviews, essays, and even some criticism. Her newest poetry book, Seasons In An Unknown Key, came out this year from Tightrope Books. She edited Descant magazine for 45 years and also was the Arts Features Editor of the Canadian Forum magazine and a columnist for the Literary Review (London). She was lucky enough to teach English and miscellaneous stuff at Ryerson University where her students changed her life and her thinking about nearly everything. Editing Descant and working with many marvellous writers and editors and designers was another stroke of luck and she is grateful for what life has given her.

Charlie Petch is a playwright, spoken word artist, haiku deathmaster and musical saw player. Their full poetry collection, Late Night Knife Fights was published with LyricalMyrical Press and they are currently touring their full length spoken word vaudeville show "Mel Malarkey Gets The Bum's Rush". They have been published by Descant, The Toronto Quarterly and Matrix journals. Petch is a member of The League of Canadian Poets and is the creative director of "Hot Damn It's A Queer Slam". Find out more at

Robert Priest, is the author of fourteen books of poetry, three plays, four novels, lots of  musical CDS, and one hit song. His words have been debated in the legislature, posted in the Transit system, quoted in the Farmer's Almanac, and sung on Sesame street. His 2008 book: Reading the Bible Backwards peaked at number two on the Canadian poetry charts. Rosa Rose (ECW), a book of children's verse, in praise of inspirational figures, recently won a silver moonbeam award in the U.S and was a book of honour in the Lion And the Unicorn prize of excellence in Children’s Literature. His latest book of poems for adults is Previously Feared Darkness (ECW). A new book of children’s poems: The Wolf is Back, will be published July 2017 by Wolsak and Wynn.

Bänoo Zan is an immigrant poet, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with more than 120 published poems and poetry-related pieces as well as three books. Songs of Exile (Guernica Editions), was shortlisted for Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Letters to My Father was published in 2017 by Piquant Press. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012). Facebook and LinkedIn: Bänoo Zan
Twitter: @BanooZan & @ShabeSherTO

Until 2015, Michelle Alfano served as an Associate Editor with the literary quarterly Descant. She is the co-organizer of the Love Poetry Festival honouring Milton Acorn and Gwen MacEwen. Her novella, Made Up Of Arias, was the 2010 winner of the Bressani Award for Short Fiction. Her short story “Opera”, on which the novella was based, was a finalist for a Journey Prize anthology. She is currently at work on two projects: a personal memoir entitled The Unfinished Dollhouse (Cormorant Books, 2017) and the novel Destiny, think of me while you sleep.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Amazons of the Mediterranean

poetry ~ prose ~ comedy
in honour of Italian heritage month

Saturday, June 24, 2017
2:00 to 5:00pm

Black Swan Tavern (2nd Floor)
154 Danforth Avenue, Toronto



Gianna Patriarca is an award-winning author of eight books of poetry, one children’s book and a collection of short fiction. Her work is extensively anthologized in Canada, Italy and the USA and appears on University courses in all three countries. Her work has been adapted for stage and radio drama and featured in numerous documentaries. Her first book, Italian Women and Other Tragedies, is in its fourth printing and recently was translated into Italian and launched at the University of Naples Orientale and Bologna. Website:

Darlene Madott is a Toronto lawyer and award-winning writer.  Author of seven books, her short fiction has garnered literary awards, including the title story of her seventh book, Making Olives and Other Family Secrets (Ripasso), which won the Bressani Literary Award in 2008, and also included Touching Calabria, a winner in an Accenti Magazine competition. Her collection of linked short-stories Stations of the Heart (Exile Editions, 2013) again won the Bressani Literary Award in 2014.  That collection included Waiting, short-listed for the Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Competition 2011-12 in the established writer category. Website:

Tina Tzatzanis is a teacher-librarian at an elementary school in Toronto. She is currently on sabbatical, working furiously to complete the first draft of her first novel about a young woman in a small Greek village during the 50s, 60s, and 70s whose life, heavily influenced by patriarchal forces, the politics of the times, and fate, frays into three distinct paths. She is of Greek and Irish descent and lives with her husband, her two almost adult children and a cat that thinks she is theirs.

Sonia Di Placido is a poet and writer, completing her M.F.A. from UBC. A graduate of the Ryerson University Theatre School with an Honours B.A. in Humanities from York University, Sonia has experience as a Supernumerary with the Canadian Opera Company, is a member of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers and The League of Canadian Poets. She has published chapbooks, poetry, profile pieces, interviews and has written reviews for literary print/online journals and various anthologies: Poems and Reviews can be found in Carousel, The Puritan, Jacket2, Canthius and The California Journal of Women Writers. Exaltation In Cadmium Red, her first book was published in 2012. A second book of poetry is forthcoming with Guernica Editions in 2018. Website:

Music by Nigel Barnes

Nigel Barnes began playing the guitar at a young age. He has played in multiple cover and original bands over the years and has gone on to share his talent with musicians such as Don Kerr, Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith, Lester McLean, Ellen Carol and musical director and composer Andrew Craig.  In 2006, he released It Is What It Is.  He is currently recording new music. Music is his passion, his dream and his refuge.


Bianca Lakoseljac’s second novel, Stone Woman, is set in Toronto—and it relives Toronto's 1967 summer of love. Bianca is also the author of a novel, Summer of the Dancing Bear; a collection of stories, Bridge in the Rain; and a book of poetry, Memoirs of a Praying Mantis. Her work has been featured in various literary journals and anthologies such as 50+ Poems for Gordon Lightfoot, and Inanna Publications Literary Quarterly. She is the liaison for the National Reading Campaign of the Writers Union of Canada; and is past president of the Canadian Authors Association, Toronto. She has judged various national literary competitions. Bianca was the Open Book Toronto Writer-in-Residence for November 2016. She has taught at Ryerson University and Humber College. Website:

Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni grew up in suburban Philadelphia, PA., and came to Toronto as a student at St. Michael’s College, UofT. Her studies concentrated on English language and literature, with a course in Italian grammar and a one-year course in Dante. She met Alberto Di Giovanni, and after graduate studies they married. She has lived and worked in Toronto ever since. She was elected as a school board trustee, and then as a city councillor. With support from Centro Scuola e Cultura Italiana she edited three anthologies of Italian Canadian poetry and prose; she also has produced two collections of her own poetry. She is the proud mother of three, and happy Nonna to three grandchildren. Her work includes Looking at Renaissance Paintings and Other Poems (Quattro Books, 2008) and Second Collection (LyricalMyrical, 2012). The anthologies are: Italian Canadian Voices, An anthology of Poetry and Prose (1946-1983) and (Mosaic Press, 1984); Italian Canadian Voices: A Literary Anthology (1946-2004) and (Mosaic Press, 2006) and Bravo! A Selection of Prose and Poetry by Italian Canadian Writers (Quattro Books, 2012).

Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews has written five collections of poetry: The Whispers of Stones, Sea Glass, The Red Accordion, Letters from the Singularity and A Jar of Fireflies. Nature and one's place in it, as well as memory and social justice are her muse. Her poems The Red Accordion and Emerald City were shortlisted for Descant's Winston Collins Best Canadian Poem Prize and The Malahat Review's Open Seasons Award respectively. In 2015, her poem Ghost received first prize in Toronto's Big Pond Rumours Journal Contest. Josie is the author of two non-fiction books: How The Italians Created Canada and In the Name of Hockey. She is the host and co-ordinator of the Oakville Literary Café.

Isabella Colalillo Katz is a poet, writer, editor, translator and professor based in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of three books of poetry: Tasting Fire (Guernica), And Light Remains (Guernica) and Marlene Dietrich’s Eyes (Ekstasis, 2014). Isabella has translated Elio Vittorini’s prose poem novel, Conversazione in Sicilia/Sicilian Conversations parts of which were published in Sweet Lemon 2, (Legas, 2010). Her poetry, short stories, critical essays on writing and creativity and book reviews appear in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies, such as Exploring Voice (Italian Canadiana, 2016). She is the poetry editor for Braided Way journal. Website:

Music by Nigel Barnes


After working for many years as a public servant in Ontario, Lucia Cascioli has returned to her love of creative writing.  Her books include: Struck (2011); Shifters (2011); Spiral (2011) – Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards; From Scratch to Finish (2012); Letters to the Grave (2012) – Honourable Mention, Whistler Independent Book Awards; WTF? Tales from the Burbs (2013); The Getaway Book (2015); and Markers of Descent (2015). Her work has also appeared in Stile Magazine. Lucia enjoys participating in readings, lectures and book fairs and is currently working on her next book. Website:

Carmela Circelli was born in Southern Italy and grew up in Montreal. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from York University and has been teaching in the Humanities and Philosophy departments of York University since 1990. She also has a private practice as a psychotherapist in Toronto. Recently she published a philosophical memoir called Sweet Nothing: An Elemental Case for Taking out Time with Quattro Books. She is currently working on a novel titled The Last of the Daydreamers.

Sandra Battaglini is an award winning stand-up comic, actor and writer. She is the 2013 Canadian Comedy Award winner for her solo show, Classy Lady, directed by Phil Luzi, that premiered in Toronto in 2012 and most recently was voted 'Best Female Standup’ by NOW Magazine. Past performances include, Hard Headed Woman (Canadian Comedy Award Winner, 2007), Small Battalion of Soldiers (Canadian Comedy Award Nomination, 2005). She tours with national comedy club chain, Yuk Yuks and co-hosts two of Toronto’s most alternative comedy nights, Family Slides and The Sal & Sandy Show with Phil Luzi. Sandra appears in David Cronenberg's latest feature, Maps to the Stars that premiered at TIFF in 2014, CBC's sketch show Humantown, NBC Seeso's flagship web series, The Amazing Gayle Pile and upcoming episodes of medical drama Saving Hope and Odd Squad. She is currently in development and on original concepts, including Knitterati and Family Slides with Phil Luzi. Not only has she performed throughout Canada, she has also been invited to perform in New York, Chicago and L.A. and was a semi-finalist in the She Devil Comedy Competition in NYC. Website:

Michelle Alfano is a former Associate Editor with the literary quarterly Descant and the co-organizer of the annual Love Poetry Festival. Her novella, Made Up Of Arias, was the 2010 winner of the Bressani Award for Short Fiction. Her short story “Opera”, on which the novella was based, was a finalist for a Journey Prize anthology. Her fiction and non-fiction work has been widely published in Canada in major literary publications. She is currently at work on two projects: a personal memoir entitled The Unfinished Dollhouse (to be published by Cormorant Books in 2017) and the novel Destiny, think of me while you sleep. Blog: