Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 7:30 PM
Performance, Special Event: Year-Round

Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre

235 Queens Quay West
Toronto M5J 2G8
Cost: $10, FREE for Friends of the Festival and Students/Youth (25 and Under)/members of The League of Canadian Poets

2019 Battle of the Bards Winner


Congratulations to Doyali Islam for become the 11th poet to win the competition. She read from her new book, heft, which you can find here. You can find the press release here.

Logo for 11th Annual PoetryNOW

20 poets. 1 stage. 1 winner.

Toronto’s popular poetry competition, PoetryNOW: The Battle of the Bards, is back for its 11th year to feature readings from 20 dynamic poets and showcase a diverse range of voices, themes and poetic genres. Each poet will be given three minutes to read their work, which can range from comical to contemplative.

The Prize: One poet will win an invitation to read at the 40th Anniversary edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors (October 24 – November 3, 2019) and have their book and Festival event advertised in NOW Magazine.

The winner will be selected by a judging panel composed of Geoffrey E. Taylor, TIFA Director, and established poets Andy McGuire (Country Club) and Alison Pick (Strangers With The Same Dream). The live event will be hosted by Susan G. Cole.

Attendees also have the chance to win a stack of poetry books by the participants! For contest rules and regulations click here.

The 2019 Poets


  • Chris Bailey

    Chris Bailey is a commercial fisherman from North Lake, Prince Edward Island. He received his MFA from the University of Guelph and is a past recipient of the Milton Acorn Award for Poetry. His writing has appeared in Grain, Brick, The Buzz, The Town Crier, FreeFall, and on CBC’s Mainstreet PEI. Bailey’s debut poetry collection, What Your Hands Have Done, is available from Nightwood Editions.

  • Chris Banks

    Chris Banks is the author of Bonfires, The Cold Panes of SurfacesWinter Cranes, and The Cloud Versus Grand Unification Theory. His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004 and was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. His fifth collection, Midlife Action Figure, will be published by ECW Press in fall 2019. He lives and writes in Waterloo, Ontario.

  • Michelle Brown

    Originally from Victoria, BC, Michelle Brown lives in Toronto with her husband and three-legged dog Bo. Previously shortlisted for CV2's Young Buck poetry prize and longlisted for the CBC poetry prize, Safe Words (Palimpsest Press, 2018) is her first full-length collection.

  • Brenda Clews

    Brenda Clews is an African-Canadian poet, artist, videopoet, photographer and editor. She has a chapbook, the luminist poems (LyricalMyrical Press, 2013), a full-length poetry collection, Tidal Fury (Guernica Editions, 2016) and a novella, Fugue in Green (Quattro Books, 2017). She has had a number of solo art and group shows. Her artwork has appeared in books and as journal covers. Her poetry has been published in numerous print and on-line journals. She hosts Minstrels & Bards, a salon in Toronto. Her website is

  • Susan G. Cole

    Susan G. Cole is a writer, editor and activist. She is the author of two books on violence against women, Pornography and the Sex Crisis and Power Surge: Sex, Violence and Pornography (both  Second Story Press) and is the editor of Outspoken: A Canadian Collection of Lesbian Scenes and Monologues (Playwrights Canada Press). Her play, the comedy A Fertile Imagination, about two lesbians trying to have a baby, was nominated for two Dora Awards in Toronto. She lives in Toronto, where she is a political commentator and Books Editor at NOW Magazine, with her partner and has just become a grandmother.

  • Adebe DeRango-Adem

    Adebe DeRango-Adem lives in Toronto. She is a former attendee of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa University), where she mentored with poets Anne Waldman and Amiri Baraka. She is the author of three fulllength poetry collections: Ex Nihilo (Frontenac House, 2010), which became a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, Terra Incognita (Inanna Publications, 2015), which was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and The Unmooring, published in 2018 by Mansfield Press.

  • Kelly Norah Drukker

    Kelly Norah Drukker was born in Montreal, and grew up in the Laurentian region of Quebec. Her first collection of poems, Small Fires (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016) won the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry and the Concordia University First Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. Petits feux, translated into French by Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné, was published by Le lézard amoureux in 2018. Kelly currently lives in Montreal, where she is pursuing a doctorate in Humanities at Concordia University.

  • Kim Fahner

    Kim Fahner was the fourth poet laureate of the City of Greater Sudbury (2016-2018), the first woman to be appointed to the role. She has published four previous volumes of poetry, including You Must Imagine the Cold (Scrivener Press, 1997), braille on water (Penumbra Press, 2001), The Narcoleptic Madonna (Penumbra Press, 2012), and Some Other Sky (Black Moss Press, 2017). She is a playwright and a novelist, and lives in Sudbury.

  • Joe Fiorito (credit Richard Lautens, Toronto Star)

    Joe Fiorito

    Joe Fiorito is a journalist who has worked as a city columnist for the Montreal Gazette, The Globe & Mail, The National Postand the Toronto Star newspapers. He won the National Newspaper Award for Columns in 1995; the Brassani Prize for Short Fiction in 2000; and the City of Toronto Book Award in 2003. He is the author of eight books: Comfort Me with Apples (collection of columns); Tango on the Main (collection of columns); The Closer We Are To Dying (memoir); The Song Beneath the Ice (novel); Union Station (non-fiction); Rust Is a Form of Fire (non-fiction); and, as co-author, The Life Crimes and Hard Times of Ricky Atkinson, Leader of the Dirty Tricks Gang. His most recent book, "City Poems”, was published in 2018. He is married, lives in Toronto and is currently at work on his second collection of poetry.

  • Sonja Ruth Greckol

    Sonja Ruth Greckol was moved to write poetry when Mike Harris was elected to a second term. Now she finds herself muttering nasty limericks which, alas, are unpublishable. She has taught college and university, studied order and disorder in jokes, done human rights and gender-based research, organizational consulting, and local activism.

  • Doyali Islam

    Doyali Islam's second poetry book is heft (McClelland & Stewart, 2019). Poems from heft have been published in Kenyon Review Online, The Fiddlehead, and Best Canadian Poetry. Doyali has discussed the value of silence on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition; language, form, beauty, and empathy with Anne Michaels in CV2; and the relationship between poetry and the body on CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter. She has also been in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Forrest Gander, and you can find their discussion of grief, art-making, and poetry ethics in The Adroit Journal. The poetry editor of Arc and the winner of the 2019 Battle of the Bards, Doyali lives in Toronto.

  • Jim Johnstone

    Jim Johnstone is a Toronto-based poet, editor, and critic. He’s the author of five books of poetry: The Chemical Life (Véhicule Press, 2017), Dog Ear (Véhicule Press, 2014), Sunday, the locusts (Tightrope Books, 2011), Patternicity (Nightwood Editions, 2010) and The Velocity of Escape (Guernica Editions, 2008), and the subject of the critical monograph Proofs & Equational Love: The Poetry of Jim Johnstone by Shane Neilson and Jason Guriel. He’s the winner of several awards including a CBC Literary Award, The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, and Poetry’s Editors Prize for Book Reviewing. Currently, Johnstone curates the Anstruther Books imprint at Palimpsest Press, and is an associate editor at Representative Poetry Online.

  • Andy McGuire

    Andy McGuire is the author of Country Club. Most recently he collaborated with visual artist Kim Dorland on the artist’s book Same Old Future. McGuire lives in Huron County.

  • Jay MillAr

    Jay MillAr is the author of several books, the most recent of which include the small blue, esp: accumulation sonnets, Other Poems and Timely Irreverence. He is also the author of several privately published editions, including Lack Lyrics, which tied to win the 2008 bpNichol Chapbook Award. Jay is the co-publisher at Book*hug. He also curates Apollinaire’s Bookshoppe, a virtual bookstore that specializes in the books that no one wants to buy. He teaches poetry/poetics at an imaginary institution called Toronto New School of Writing.

  • Clementine Morrigan

    Clementine Morrigan is the author of three books: You Can’t Own the Fucking Stars, The Size of a Bird, and Rupture. She also writes the zine Fucking Magic. Their work explores queer desire in the context of complex trauma. Visit to learn more.

  • Jim Nason

    Jim Nason is the author of six collections of poetry, including his most recent, Rooster, Dog, Crow.   He has published a short story collection The Girl on the Escalator and his third novel, Spirit of a Hundred Thousand Dead Animals, was published by Signature Editions in 2017. He has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Award in both fiction and poetry categories and a Finalist for the 2018 ReLit Poetry Award. Jim is the publisher at Tightrope Books and the founder and organizer of Canada’s annual human rights poetry event: Meet Me in the Middle: Writers on Rights.

  • Peter Norman

    Peter Norman has published a novel and three previous poetry collections. Born in Vancouver, he has lived in Calgary, Edmonton, Windsor (Ontario), Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto, where he now lives with his wife, author Melanie Little. He makes his living as a freelance book editor.

  • Alison Pick

    Alison Pick was the 2002 Bronwen Wallace Award winner for the most promising young writer in Canada. She has published three acclaimed volumes of poetry, and her first novel, The Sweet Edge, was a Globe and Mail "Best Book". Her second novel, Far to Go, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, won the Canadian Jewish Award for Fiction, and was named a "Top Ten of 2010" book by the Toronto Star and NOW Magazine. It was also published internationally to acclaim. Her memoir, Between Gods, was published internationally, was a finalist for the BC National Award for Nonfiction, a Globe and Mail "Best Book" of 2014, and a national bestseller. She presents Strangers With The Same Dream.

  • Hana Shafi

    Hana Shafi is a writer and artist who illustrates under the name Frizz Kid. Both her art and writing explore themes such as feminism, body politics, racism, and pop culture with an affinity to horror. A graduate of Ryerson’s Journalism Program, her articles have appeared in publications including The Walrus, Buzzfeed, CBC, Flare, Shameless, and more. Known on Instagram for her weekly affirmation series, she is also the recipient of the Women Who Inspire Award, from the Canadian Council for Muslim Women. Born in Dubai, Shafi now lives in Toronto. It Begins with The Body is her first book.

  • Smokii Sumac

    Smokii Sumac is a Ktunaxa poet, performer, and PhD Candidate in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Smokii received the 2017 Indigenous Voices Award for unpublished poetry, and has since released you are enough: love poems for the end of the world (Kegedonce Press.) He has performed at various events and venues, including the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. As a two-spirit and transgender educator, Smokii enjoys facilitating workshops on topics ranging from land acknowledgements to 2SQ resurgence. Smokii currently shares his time between Nogojiwanong (Peterborough, Ontario) and Ithaca, NY where he lives with his family and their dog, Smudge.

  • Matthew Walsh

    Matthew Walsh hails from the eastern shore of Nova Scotia and has twice travelled by bus across Canada. Their poems may be found in the Malahat Review, Arc, Existere, Matrix, Carousel, and Geist. Walsh now lives in Toronto.

  • Anna Yin

    Anna Yin is Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate and the Ontario representative to the League of Canadian Poets. She has six poetry books. She has won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTY Awards and the 2013 Professional Achievement Award from CPAC, as well as two scholarships for West Chester Poetry Conference (2016/2017). Anna was a finalist for Canada’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award in 2011 and 2012. Her poetry has appeared in many magazines including: Arc Poetry, New York Times, China Daily, World Journal, Room, and Indiana Review. She teaches Poetry Alive at schools, colleges and libraries. To learn more about Anna Yin and her poetry visit her website:

  • Bänoo Zan

    Bänoo Zan is a poet, librettist, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with more than 180 published poems and poetry-related pieces as well as three books. Songs of Exile was shortlisted for Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.  Letters to My Father was published in 2017 by Piquant Press. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012). It is a brave space that bridges the gap between communities of poets from different ethnicities, nationalities, religions (or lack thereof), ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, poetic styles, voices and visions.