Johnny MacRae

Artistic Director

Photo Credit: Derek Ford


Johnny MacRae is a mouthy poet who has toured exhaustively across Canada. Whether solo, or as a member of collaborative acts 2 Dope Boys in a Cadillac, The Dambassadors and Travelin’ Word Circus, he has given over 200 performances at slams and readings, as well as festivals of poetry, music, and theatre, across Canada. In that same time, he has led over 300 workshops for youth and adults. When not writing, performing, or teaching, he can be found engaged in community organizing. He founded UBC Poetry Slam and Victoria’s Raising Voices outreach program, Raising Voices; co-directed the 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Victoria; directed Raising Voices and Vancouver’s WordPlay Poets from 2013 to 2018; created Spoken Word Canada’s series list for touring artists; acted as Verses Festival’s Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Tournament Director in 2016 and 2018; and has co-directed the Hullabaloo portion of Verses Festival of Words since 2015. In 2013, he was named Poet of Honour for the Victoria Spoken Word Festival, and received the Zaccheus Jackson Nyce Memorial Award in 2017.

Santiago Farias Calderon

Arts Administrator


Santiago Farias Calderon is a Mexican writer, theatre translator, and PhD in Theatre student at UBC. He has been awarded with a UBC Four Year Fellowship 2015, the Errol Durbach Graduate Scholarship in Theatre 2016, and Faculty of Arts Graduate Student Research Award 2017. He has published research on theatre translation in the Canadian Theatre Review 2017, and his poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies in Spain and Mexico.

Hal Lackie

Program Coordinator, VanSlam

photo credit: Nang Ḵ’uulas


Hal is a 4th generation settler, currently living on the unceded territories of the  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) people colonially known as Vancouver, BC. Hal has gone to school for human services – working with indaviduals and in community since 2010.
Hal is the current Slammaster of the Vancouver Poetry Slam – they have also worked on the coordinating team for verses festival of words 2018, volunteered at verses 2017 and throughout the regular slam since joining the community a few years ago.
Despite being the Slammaster, Hal has never competed in a slam, and has made their focus to highlight qt-bipoc voices and meld art and community together. Hal believes that art saves lives, and helps shift societal values.

Mariah Lynne Dear

Youth Slam Coordinator


Mariah Lynne Dear is a majestic woman who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a poet, a nonfiction writer, a feminist, a writing workshop facilitator, and the coordinator of the Vancouver Youth Poetry Slam. Since her spoken word poetry debut at age seventeen, she has travelledacross Canada competing both individually and as a team representing the city of Vancouver. You can find out what Mariah is currently working on at!

Tessa Bourguignon

Wordplay Coordinator


Tessa is a bilingual writer, designer, and educator. She comes to WordPlay with over a decade of involvement in the poetry community, including a french performance in the Vancouver Writers’ Festival, and just as many years of facilitation experience. Carrying a strong drive to provide youth with platforms to express themselves, her coordination approach is informed by a theatre background, and entrepreneurial experience starting a small local business geared towards accessibility and social justice through design.

RC Weslowski

Hullabaloo Coordinator


RC Weslowski is a 2017 VPL Book Camp Keynote Speaker, winner of the 2016 Sheri D Wilson Golden Beret Award and the 2012 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion. RC is a 2 time World Cup of Poetry Slam Finalist (2007 and 2013) and 7 time member of the Vancouver Poetry Slam. RC has led spoken word and performance workshops at festivals across North America and for the Banff Centre’s Spoken Word Program.

RC is the co-founder and co-director of Hullabaloo: the BC Youth Spoken Word Festival. He is also the co-creator of Surrealist Audio Collage Podcast “Oh No Not Another Podcast”