Joseph A. Dandurand is a member of Kwantlen First Nation located on the Fraser River about 20 minutes east of Vancouver. He resides there with his 3 children Danessa, Marlysse, and Jace. Joseph is the Director of the Kwantlen Cultural Center. Joseph received a Diploma in Performing Arts from Algonquin College and studied Theatre and Direction at the University of Ottawa. He has just completed his residency as the Storyteller in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library. He sits on a committee for the Canadian Museum of History and is tasked with consulting on the redesign of the new Children’s Museum. He has published 13 books of poetry and the latest are: I WANT by Leaf Press (2015) and HEAR AND FORETELL by BookLand Press (2015) The Rumour (2018) by BookLand Press in (2018) SH:LAM (the doctor) Mawenzi Press (2019) The Corrupted by Guernica Press (2020) his children’s play: Th’owixiya: the hungry Feast dish by Playwrights Press Canada (2019) his book of short stories and short plays for children: The Sasquatch, the fire, and the cedar basket will be published by Nightwood Press along with his poetry manuscript: Here we come (2020-21) He also is very busy Storytelling at many events and Schools.
Colleen Brown has nearly a decade of experience working with cultural not-for-profits. She is currently the Board Treasurer of the Or Gallery and has sat on the Western Front’s board. She began working with not-for-profits as the Program Coordinator of Artspeak Gallery (2004-2007). Colleen also held numerous communications positions with educational organizations, most recently at the University of British Columbia. Colleen is a committed teacher. In the last few years, she has taught students of all ages, working with young children in galleries, with teens in the classroom and seniors as part of community-based work. She is a sessional faculty member at Emily Carr University occasionally teaching in the Sculpture Department and Continuing Studies Department. Colleen is a visual artist. She holds a BFA from Emily Carr University, a BA Psyc, Simon Fraser University and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, New York. Her most recent solo exhibitions have been with Burrard Foundation and Unit 17. She has participated in exhibitions and events at Cooper Cole, Toronto; Vancouver Art Gallery; Western Gallery, Bellingham; Shelfed, Vancouver; Hedreen Gallery, Seattle; and The Apartment, Vancouver. Brown holds a British Columbia Art Council Project Grant. Her work for this project is an investigation of alternative forms of the victim impact statement.
Sam Peters is a nonbinary poet, settler, and student. Sam has worked as a volunteer coordinator, first aid attendant, and restaurant manager, but they are most proud of their work as a facilitator for Qmunity and the Youth Excellence Society. You may also recognize them as a Vanslam and Verses Festival of Words volunteer, Vanslam host, 2019 New Sh!t Champion, and 2019 Vanslam Team member.
Prior to joining Vancouver Poetry House, Laura spent over 7 years in Accounting, managing the finances for many not-for-profit clients. She has her Professional Bookkeeping Certificate from Langara College and her Office Administration Diploma from Vancouver Career College. She intends to continue with more accounting studies in the time left from pursuing her other passions: sewing and embroidery.
Kaelyn has been the resident sound engineer for Vancouver Poetry House since 2008. She is the head sound tech for Hullabaloo and the Verses Festival of Words and she also runs sound for the Vancouver Poetry Slam every Monday night at Cafe Deux Soleils. Kaelyn graduated from the Pacific Audio Visual Institute in 2008 with an Honours Diploma in Audio Engineering and Music Production. In a previous life, Kaelyn worked as a Veterinary Assistant for many years. In addition to her audio engineering work, she also works in healthcare with the Practice Support Program at Vancouver Coastal Health. Kaelyn has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences (2014) and a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Gerontology (2017) from Simon Fraser University, and she is currently completing a Master of Health Administration (MHA) at the University of British Columbia. Kaelyn plays in beer-league bowling and curling leagues in the winter, and East Van Baseball League in the summer. She enjoys hiking, backpacking and horseback riding, and will frequently disappear into the woods for extended periods of time; Kaelyn recently hiked the West Coast Trail and wishes she could have stayed there forever. Go see Kaelyn at the sound board and give her a hug the next time you are at the poetry slam!
Illustrator & Graphic Designer
Leia is a self-taught freelance illustrator and graphic designer living and working in East Vancouver. Her first introduction to spoken word was in 2008 through friends of VanSlam. Professionally, her involvement with Vancouver Poetry House began in 2013 with rebranding our annual literary festival, Verses Festival of Words, and continues on as principal designer for VPH as well as all affiliate programs. Leia also recently became part of the Canadian poetry book publishing team at Write Bloody North, where she excitedly takes on the dream role of book cover designer.
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”
Johnny D Trinh is an interdisciplinary and spoken word artist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Exploring the use of spoken word, music, video, social media, movement, theatre, and creative technology- Johnny’s practice integrates the multi-layered realities within which we exist to create immersive spoken word experiences. Johnny recognizes that many of us are uninvited guests on this indigenous Turtle Island, and continually works to negotiate that through accountability, solidarity, and integrity of practice. Johnny creates opportunities to support marginalized communities cultivate their voice: “It takes a community to build an artist… whether we are nurtured by it, or resist against it.”
Johnny is the creator of Stage to Page: Poetry Development Project, an online panel workshop series that brings Poets/Writers, Publishers, and Theatre Makers together to support spoken word poets looking to publish their work. We apply contemporary play development/script development frameworks to spoken word, and explore how these techniques can help spoken word poets translate their performances to the printed page.
Outreach and Program Coordinator
Brad Morden is a ukulele/poet and poetry organizer from Norfolk County, Ontario. He is one half of the folk-hop-poetry sensation Atomic Wednesday and the founder/publisher at Write Bloody North.
Programming and Communications Assistant
Mahta Riazi (she/her/hers) is an Iranian/Canadian poet, community worker, and educator currently living in Tio’tia:ke (Montréal) on the unceded territories of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk people). After obtaining a teaching degree in 2017, Mahta has been working in popular education settings. She is interested in the literary arts as a way to connect communities and collectively learn and heal. Mahta began working with VPH in autumn 2020 to help organize Word Camp Virtual Series.