Jillian Christmas

Soundtracks & Stanzas: Changing Canada’s Black Future



February 12, 4pm5pm

Taking a deeper look into what it means to be unapologetically Black

Whether it be poetry written for the page, the silver screen, the poetry slam or the melody, every poet plays with language to reveal the inexpressible. Toronto International Festival of Authors, JAYU and Kuumba present the new generation of Canadian poets who are pushing the possibilities and playing with the rules. Tune in to four distinguished Canadian poets who will take us on a journey through the physical, vocal and material elements of their poems. Featuring Jillian Christmas (Vancouver), Tawhida Tanya Evanson (Montreal), Desiree MacKenzie (Toronto) and Motion (Toronto). Emcee for the event is poet Britta B. (Toronto).

This event will be presented as part of the Bergen International Literary Festival, a five-day festival that celebrates international and Norwegian fiction and non-fiction, beginning on February 10, 2021. It will be showcased during Literature Live Around the World, a collaboration project composed of 12 festivals and literature centres from every continent, who have joined forces to provide a unique 12-hour literary program. Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation presenters Siss Vik and Mona B Riise will lead this marathon multinational venture from Bergen on Friday, February 12, 2021.

TIFA is excited to join forces with JAYU, a leader in the space where the arts and human rights intersect, and Kuumba, one of Toronto’s longest-running festivals celebrating Black History Month, at Harbourfront Centre to bring you this special event.


Artist: Britta B.

Britta B. is a Toronto-based poet, spoken word performer, emcee and artist educator. Most recently, Britta was recognized as a 2020 Finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Her works have featured in print, in sound and on stage across North America. She is an alumna of the Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Spoken Word Residency. Britta is currently a Creative Writing MFA candidate at the University of Guelph.


Artist: Tawhida Tanya Evanson

Tawhida Tanya Evanson is an Antiguan-Québecoise poet, author and artist from Tiohtià:ke/Montréal. She has published six artist books and her two poetry collections are Bothism (Ekstasis, 2017) and Nouveau Griot (Frontenac, 2018). Her first novel, Book of Wings, is forthcoming from Véhicule Press in 2021, and she has recent work in The Fiddlehead, UPPERCASE and Changing the Face of Canadian Literature (Guernica).

With a 20-year practice in spoken word, she has performed at literary and arts festivals in over a dozen countries and released four studio albums and six videopoems, including the award-winning Almost Forgot My Bones. In 2013, she was Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and received the Golden Beret Award for her contribution to the genre. She is program director for Banff Centre Spoken Word, sits on the board of directors for the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) and produces local interarts events. She moonlights as a whirling dervish.


Artist: Motion

MOTION is a screenwriter, playwright, poet and emcee. Her work has been featured across Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. She is a writer and executive story editor on the TV series Coroner (CBC/CW) and co-writer of the feature Akilla’s Escape, directed by Charles Officer (2020). She is an alumna of the Canadian Film Centre, writer of Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape, author of Motion in Poetry (Women’s Press) and course director of Griots to Emcees: Culture, Performance & Spoken Word at York University.


Artist: Jillian Christmas

Jillian Christmas is a queer, Afro-Caribbean writer living on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people (Vancouver, BC), where she served for six years as artistic director of Versəs Festival of Words. She has won numerous Grand Poetry-Slam Championship titles and represented both Toronto and Vancouver at 11 national poetry events, notably breaking ground as the first Canadian to perform on the final stage of the Women of the World Poetry Slam.

In 2016 Jillian was named one of two Poets of Honour by the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Jillian’s work has been featured in numerous online publications including Lemon Hound, The Rusty Toque and The Huffington Post, and published in a number of collections, most recently including Power Poems for Small Humans (Flamingo Rampant Press, 2019), Matrix New Queer Writing (issue 98), The Post Feminist Post, Plenitude Magazine, Room Magazine (39.1) and celebrated anthology The Great Black North.


Artist: Desiree MacKenzie

Desiree Mckenzie has touched many stages sharing her truth. As a director of the Toronto BAM! Youth Slam and the 2019 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Champion with Up From the Roots, she’s looking for growth by way of the stage. She has represented Toronto Poetry Slam at the 2020 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas, Texas placing in the top 40 of 100 poets and was ranked among the top three poets in Canada at the 2020 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam. Her poetry has also been featured as part of CBC’s Poetic License series.


LitFest Bergen

Soundtracks & Stanzas: Changing Canada’s Black Future



February 12, 4pm5pm

Taking a deeper look into what it means to be unapologetically Black

In Partnership with

Citadel+Compagnie
Toronto International Festival of Authors