The Word Vancouver festival is preparing its 2018 edition with another genre-hopping and inclusive roster of authors, set to appear at venues around the city from September 24 to 30.
The Straight has asked a group of these writers to describe their most memorable and momentous reading experiences. Which books lit up their imaginations? Which ones struck a chord at a crucial time?
Here’s what Barbadian-born Canadian author Roger R. Blenman told us. His latest novel, Dead’er, was published in 2015 by Hamilton Books. He’ll be discussing his work at 1:15 p.m. on September 30, in the Sunrise Suite at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
The winters were cold where I grew up. Often I was the only Black kid in the class. My senior English teacher, a brilliant educator by the name of Fred Anderson, suggested that I read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. My teacher, uncharacteristically tentative when making the recommendation, knew that I’d read little of the Black literary tradition. It took no prophet, however, to divine that a university-bound, minority youth would eventually have to deal with challenges specific to his race. He discussed the book with me, parsing his literary observations with respect for my lived experience.
Should public-school teachers encourage activism? Phrase the question this way: should public schools foster docility or complacency? Should public schools produce students afraid or unwilling to suggest improvements to the status quo? Should not public schools produce leaders, as well as dreamers, and innovators, and entrepreneurs, and yes followers too, but never followers of the uncritical or the unquestioning kind?
I’ve since become a writer and a teacher myself.
Sun Sept 30: Roger along with !Kona appearing at the WORD Festival, Vancouver Public Library Central Branch. 1 pm. Thank you to host Ariadne Sawyer of World Poetry.
!Kona is a professional actor, artist and writer, and facilitator of difficult conversation and culture shift. She has worked with a range of cultural non-profits, is a community events organizer, has a background in governmental social justice work, worked in municipal cultural for over 14 years, and currently freelances as an independent Creative Cohesion Artist, and as a Community Developer for PeerNet BC. In addition to contemplating the next iteration of The Queeriodic Table, Kona is researching and writing her first novel, working on the manuscript for #SometimesMyVancouverLooksLikeThis, and planning more art projects.
Roger R. Blenman
Barbadian-born Canadian author, playwright, spoken word artist, poet, theatre director and secondary school teacher. Has degrees in Science and in Education from the University of Toronto.
Most recent novel, Dead’er published 2015 by Hamilton Books. Other work has been published/broadcast/performed: CBC-North by Northwest, Scarborough Fair/University of Toronto Press, Antigonish Review, Bluesprint/Arsenal Pulp Press and others.
Feature Poets and Poetry Slammers appearing on the stage at Columbia and Mckenzie: Sat Aug 18, 2018. 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Roger Blenman: Slam Host and Word Tamer!
Frankie McGee: “Fierce, Tender-hearted, and Honest”!
Jenifer Williams: Tree-climber, 2018 VanSlam Finalist and Sci Fi Fan.
Rabbit Richards: Underground Indies poetry slam champion. From NYC/Montreal.
Sarah-Audrey Mome: Challenging the American Dream.
Shulamit Dekort: Literature Lover, Poet and Song Writer.
Roger hosts New West Pride slam for the 2nd Year in a row.
This exciting live event features local poets of all types slamming” for notoriety, cash prizes, and of course, bragging rights as New West Pride Slam Champion.
Round One: 4:30 pm – Saturday, August 18, 2018
Finals: 6 pm!
Location: Spoken Word Stage: Columbia Street, New Westminster BC
(Near Columbia SkyTrain Station, Expo Line)
World Poetry Celebrates Black History Month!
February 22, 6:30-8:30 pm, New Westminster Public Library, 716, 6th Street, auditorium.
Hosts: Author Roger Blenman and Marce Miller
A tribute to women of colour, past, present and future.
Features: Candice James, Siobhan Barker, short film by Stacy-Ann Buchanan
Calling all poets, musicians and storytellers to perform join and perform!
Music and dance by the Children of Zion Vancouver.
Come celebrate with us.
Free raffle, open mike.
To sign up: contact Ariadne Sawyer, firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-526-4729.
Hosts: Marce Miller, Roger Blenman, filmmaker Stacy-Ann Buchann. Dancers and musicians, Children of Zion Vancouver.
“I think it’s important because it brings attention and focus on some of the issues marginalized groups are feeling,” Roger Blenman told Daily Xtra in an interview after the healing circle. “It also is an opportunity for allies to get involved in a very tangible way, and not sort of just put platitudes on Facebook or say ‘yeah, I care.’ You can show up and show that you care, and walk side by side with people who face challenges everyday.”
(Also trying to pay visual homage to Angela Davis, Non-binary gender, and Gay, all at once.)
Monthly youth poetry slam:
8 pm at Cafe Deux Soleils:
2096 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia V5N 4B2
(North of Broadway skytrain station)
Arrive by 7 to be sure of getting in! It’s a popular event.
Celebration Prince: Saturday May 7 at 13:00
333 Dunsmuir Vancouver
Roger hosts Black History through poetry at the New Westminster Library Feb. 25. 6:30 pm
Hear classic and modern poetry from the African diaspora:
from But he was cool, Don Lee:
had a beautiful shade.
from Family Affairs, Maya Angelou
And take my hand,
Smiling call me
from Soft Targets, Essex Hemphill
Barbie never told Black girls
they are beautiful.
Ben Okri, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and many more.
Performance of “Things I don’t want to wait for” Jan 29, 2016
Mashed Poetics is a night of music and spoken word mash up that takes place quarterly at 7 Dining Lounge in Vancouver at 53 West Broadway.