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.