2016 Toronto Poetry Talks: Racism and Sexism in the craft

Bernal sphere art. http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/70sArt/art.html

UPDATE #2: I created a website exclusively for Toronto Poetry Talks:  https://torontopoetrytalks.wordpress.com/ Everything about the conference including planning meetings will be found there from now on.

UPDATE: 1st planning meeting on July 22nd 8pm at Paupers Pub, Toronto:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1462301630734574/

After much online and offline discussion and mostly out of frustration, an idea popped into my head. That idea was that the poetry community needs to get together to talk, air out our grievances, state our reasons, shout when we need to be heard, and most of all, try to understand each other.

My main goal settings to get this going is to have:

* Salon style talks. Depending on how much a demand this event has, I might have to rethink this and have town hall style talks instead. Ideally I’d love it if I could have giant tables and we’d sit down to dinner or tea and shout at each other like a family, but that maybe too much fantasy on my part.

* The talks will consist of short essays whereupon poets will state their case and possible solutions. The floor will open up to questions and discussions by all. How we choose the essays, I am still not sure. However, this conference will be a bit different. I want white poets to listen and discuss. I want POC and women to speak their mind. In turn, I want us to listen to each other. I want everyone to have their say. Again, I am unsure how to set this up fairly for those that will speak.

* It will consist of a weekend. First day will be about sexism in our poetry community. I’d love to have CWILA involved in this, and anyone who has something to bring to the table on this, especially. Second day we will focus on racism. (Not sure if we should have a lyrical versus conceptualism component to all this because to me, it’s all poetry, but I’ll gauge from people’s input in the coming months. It’s my personal belief that racism exists in all of our poetry community and we need something to combat it all.) The third day will be readings by lyrical and conceptual poets on the topics of the conference. These readings don’t have to be just readings, they can be performances, dances, installations….etc. Whatever you believe is poetry to you.

* Somewhere in all that we will have a pub night or mixer.

* The event will be sometime next year in free and/or affordable spaces. Tickets will be very affordable to cover the very basic costs of running this. The only badges or kits anyone will get at this conference is a sticker that says “Hello, My Name Is…”

* If you can’t be in Toronto or can’t make your way here, I will do my very best to videotape or livestream and publish whatever work comes out of here. Again, all these ideas are in the very, very, very rough stages.

This post aims to bring something central and try to build something concrete out of my many facebook and twitter posts. If you have any ideas or would like to help (many have reached out. I am very thankful and I have taken note to get back to you when I have a full idea put together):

please email me at ravensee@gmail.com with the subject line “TPT: Racism and Sexism.”


The conference name might change and the whole design of this thing will change and mutate with the way language does. It will try to function for all of those who want it.

The ideas above and goals are very, very, VERY rough draft. I fully understand that if all this goes wrong and I misstep that I will get blasted somehow. That’s ok. At the very least, I want to try something and if nothing comes out of it, I walked the walk as best I could.

To the most quiet to the most controversial, to whoever, I don’t really care as long as you come to progress and benefit these much needed in-person discussions. We need to speak.

I’ll start thinking about all this more after June and in the coming months. Thank you.

1 Comment

  1. Sending this out to my Twitter author peeps, it’s a great concept and I look forward to it. We could have really used this last year in particular. I have one female poet who would be particularly engaged, I will pass the information on.

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