Nerd slam poets and more at East Van alternative literary festival

Portland slam poet Julia Gaskill co-hosts Spoken Nerd as part of Verses Festival of Words.

Billed by organizers as “Canada’s largest alternative literary festival,” Verses Festival of Words returns for another celebration of spoken word, poetry, graphic novels and marginalized voices. From April 25 to May 5, in venues across East Vancouver, the festival features writers, spoken-word performers and more.

See below for some highlights.

Sounds Like Fire: Death Threat Book Launch (Sunday, April 28 at 8 p.m., York Theatre, 639 Commercial Dr.)—Multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya presents her latest book, Death Threat. A graphic novel created with graphic artist Ness Lee, the book portrays violent harassment from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the target. Vancouver Poet Laureate/Musqueam hip-hop artist Christie Lee Charles, emerging artist Tawahum and standout performers from Hullabaloo and Van Youth Slam also perform.

Spoken Nerd (Wednesday, May 1 at 10:30 pm, Storm Crow Tavern, 1305 Commercial Dr.)—Poets Julia Gaskill and Stephen Meads from Portland, Oregon head a night of spoken-word dedicated to all things nerdy, including, possibly, dragons.

Hullaballoo: B.C.’s Youth Spoken Word Festival—Up to 16 school teams with around 80 poets aged 13-18 from throughout the province compete and participate in events and workshops.

The Canadian Individual Poetry Slam (CIPS)—The championship determines the nation’s best individual slam poet out of a field of hopefuls who travel from across the country to perform.

Workshops—In addition to spoken word performances, Verses features a series of workshops for artists of all levels. They include Home, Grown, which explores “the cultivation of creativity through rhythm”; To The Bone: The Poetic and the Personal, about writing from personal experience; Live Loops 101, described as “a crash course in basics vocal work”; and Spoken Word for a Living, which focuses on the business side of being an artist.

For a complete listing of events, visit For tickets, visit

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