Spoken Word

Program dates: March 30, 2015 - April 11, 2015

Application deadline: December 3, 2014

Program Information

Program Director: Tanya Evanson - ,
Faculty: Robert Priest - ,   Ivy - ,
Guest Artists: Malika Tirolien - Artistic Associate, Mark Haynes - Artistic Associate ,   Jahsun - Artistic Associate ,

"The Banff Centre's Spoken Word program has changed my life, in many ways. If I were asked to point to the experience that has shaped me into a professional spoken word poet, as one who tours, publishes, and facilitates workshops, I would point to my time in Banff as pivotal."
—Johnny MacRae, program participant

About Spoken Word

The Banff Centre's Spoken Word Program is the first program of its kind, offering a unique milieu for spoken word artists to explore and develop their voices and career paths. The program offers space to write, time to develop strong performance dynamics, workshops, special events, public readings, studio recording time, one-on-one editorial assistance from experienced writers, and the opportunity to engage with a vibrant network of spoken word artists. Each participant will design a personal program to reflect her/his individual needs. World-class faculty will present challenging workshops and events covering such topics as history, composition, performance, new and multimedia, production, musicality, orality, sound, spirit, language, body, and theatre.

SPEAKING IN VOLUMES - The 2015 Spoken Word Program has stepped up its game with a fresh interdisciplinary approach exploring the fusion of spoken word and music. For the first time, musicians will be on hand as peer advisors alongside core faculty spoken word artists with a background in words and music.

Work Spaces

Participants are housed in single rooms that also serve as their private work spaces. Writers should bring their own computers or laptops, as well as software, if they wish to use a computer on a full-time basis in their rooms. A PC and a Macintosh computer are available for general email and printing purposes. Photocopying services are available at several public locations, and free wireless internet access is available throughout the campus.

Who Should Apply

This program is designed for emerging and established spoken word artists seeking a professional and artistic development opportunity to take their creation, production, and performance skills to the next level. The program welcomes applications from artists working in any form of performative writing, including theatre, storytelling or interdisciplinary work. If you are seeking dedicated time to develop a specific piece or project with guidance from faculty mentors and a place to connect with other artists in your field, this program is for you! Past participants of the program have represented artists at all career stages from across Canada, the US, and Europe. Applications from artists working in English, French, Spanish, or other languages are welcome. For more specifics, see the eligibility section.

Arrival and Departure Dates

Participants should plan to arrive in Banff on Sunday, March 29, 2015, and depart on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Recommended Reading

In 2002, The Banff Centre Press published Digitopia Blues by John Sobol; a fluid narrative about orality and literacy. Digitopia Blues can be purchased online or at your local bookstore. Participants should also read, watch, and listen to: Lillian Allen, Amiri Baraka, bill bissett, Ivan Coyote, Paul Dutton, John Giorno, Bob Holman, Jack Kerouac, Quincy Troupe, Anne Waldman, Saul Williams, and Banff Centre Spoken Word Program founder Sheri-D Wilson.   

The Spoken Word Workbook (2011), edited by Wilson, also offers interactive exercises from top professional spoken word artists that explore specific facets of the art of spoken word.

Want to Extend Your Stay?

Self-directed Writing Residencies run year-round and provide the time and space for focused work. Extend your stay before or after this program by applying for a Self-directed Residency.

Past Faculty

2014: Tanya Evanson (Director), Jean-Pierre Makosso, Emilie Zoey Baker, George Elliott Clarke and Steven Ross Smith  

2013: Tanya Evanson (Director), Jean-Pierre Makosso, d’bi young, Alexis O’Hara and Christian Bök   

2012: Sheri-D Wilson (Director), Regie Cabico, Victor Hernández Cruz, Geneviève Letarte and RC Weslowski   

2011: Sheri-D Wilson (Director), Regie Cabico, Brian Brett, Steven Ross Smith, Kaie Kellough and Anne Waldman  

2010: Sheri-D Wilson (Director), Regie Cabico, Bob Holman, Louise Bernice Halfe, evalyn parry and Steven Ross Smith  

2009: Sheri-D Wilson (Director), José Acquelin, Lillian Allen, Regie Cabico and Ivan E. Coyote  

2008: Sheri-D Wilson (Director), Ian Ferrier, Bob Holman and D. Kimm


Above photo: courtesy of The Banff Centre

All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee subject to applicable taxes. Non-refundable fees and deposits will be retained upon cancellation. Any other fees are refunded at the discretion of The Banff Centre.