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2019 Word on the Street Halifax Schedule

WoTS Halifax Festival Line-Up Updates as of September 1st.


1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Jane Ledwell – Return of the Wild Goose – Marquis Book Publishing Tent

Return of the Wild Goose explores the life of writer and activist Katherine Hughes. Set against the intimate relief of a PEI landscape, these poems are inspired by what is known—and unknown—about her contradictory life as a Catholic teacher in Mohawk territory; a journalist working alongside Canada’s first-wave feminists and suffragettes; the first public archivist of Alberta; and finally, as a zealous Irish nationalist. This (auto) biographical dialogue between Jane Ledwell and Katherine Hughes offers the reader a fierce remembrance of a PEI radical.

What made Hughes a trailblazer but not a feminist? An archivist who kept so few records of her own? What made her overthrow ideas of empire for Irish republican nationalism? Return of the Wild Goose remembers (and maybe fights a bit) with a fascinating historical Prince Edward Island woman so that she won’t be forgotten.

Jane Ledwell is a writer and editor in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. She has published two previous collections
of poetry, Last Tomato and Bird Calls: The Island Responds. She also co-authored Elaine Harrison: I Am an Island That Dreams
and co-edited two books of academic writing about L. M. Montgomery. Jane currently serves as executive director of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Marquis Book Publishing Tent – Front plaza 1 pm

Michelle Brown – Safe Words – Marquis Book Publishing Tent Front Plaza

From a student’s confrontation with a teenage streaker, to a company man’s complete undoing at his summer party, Michelle Brown’s Safe Words finds rich darkness in happy partnerships. A maiden name is “handed down / like a sweater”, a taxi ride “ends… at someone else’s life”. Played against a backdrop of pop culture, late-night swagger and vivid imaginary landscapes, Safe Words is the rare poetic debut that delivers passion and control, wielding humour and empathy in equal parts.

Michelle Brown’s poetry has been published in The Walrus, Malahat Review, Arc, CV2, Grain, Prism and The Puritan, amongst others. A runner-up for CV2’s Young Buck prize and the CBC poetry prize, Safe Words (Palimpsest Press, 2018) is her first full-length collection. She lives in Toronto with her husband and dog Bo, where she works as a copywriter and runs an online fabric store.

Marquis Book Publishing Tent – Front Plaza 1 pm

Guyleigh Johnson – Afraid of the Dark

Through prose and poetry, Guyleigh Johnson tells the story of sixteen-year-old Kahlua Thomas. An absent father and an alcoholic mother leave Kahlua feeling neglected, but her real pain stems from being black. She finds it hard surviving in a poor neighbourhood and even tougher society. Trapped by her own insecurities, she cannot relate to the person in the mirror. She believes that if she doesn’t acknowledge her thick hair, big lips, and dark skin maybe, just maybe, she’ll be able to blend in. Yet the lack of diversity, equality, and heritage in her world makes her more intrigued about the black roots she tries to stray away from. With a hard life at home, on the streets, and in school, she finds an escape during her grade ten history class through writing poetry. Hiding in the back of the class, she writes, passionately expressing and releasing emotions about identity, home, community, culture, and forgiveness. All Kahlua wants is freedom, whatever that really means.

Guyleigh Johnson is a 25-year-old spoken word artist/creative writer from North-end Dartmouth. Using writing as an outlet Johnson believes words play a huge role in the process of healing. One of her favourite quotes is “Hurt people Help people” showcasing the importance of storytelling. In October 2017 she released her first collection of poetry titled “Expect the Unexpected” based on inner-city youth and the challenges they not only face but overcome. She is currently taking classes at Dalhousie University with the hopes of obtaining a degree in Journalism, Psychology or Social Work. A community advocate, volunteering/speaking at various community organizations, events and meetings Johnson wishes to encourage youth to see their true potential, and to step out of their comfort zone. Whether you see her on Youtube, Facebook or her own personal webpage she’s starting the conversation for change. Living in a fast-paced generation that is losing the gift of being thoughtful last year she started her own business “Guyleigh’s Greeting Cards” that specializes in “personalizing the moment while creating memories”. Her intent is simple, she always wants to be impactful understanding how important it is to not only give back but to reach back and help another person up.



Janet Barkhouse – Salt Fires – Marquis Book Publishing Tent Front Plaza

Salt Fires is a volume of poems that embrace and reflect our human consciousness: our awareness, our blindness, our Shadow, our mythologies. They invite us to look at ourselves in ways that often are disconcerting, sometimes startling. Love of land infuses Salt Fires. Intimately inhabited and passionately shared, Nova Scotia’s farms, woods, and shores reveal themselves to be our Earth in microcosm.

A suite of Sable Island poems closes the book and affirms this notion—Sable Island, a strip of sand in a vast ocean, impossible, yet somehow here, like our planet, rich in life and beauty. This is the work of a mature poet who examines moral blindness and human frailties by inhabiting the experiences of the poems’ speakers with vulnerability and honesty. Accessible, clear, and alive with music, the poems inform and incite.

JANET BARKHOUSE has retired from several fascinating worlds, including theatre, academe, education. Her most recent books are Sable Island — Imagine! and Pit Pony: The Picture Book. She lives in Clearland, Nova Scotia.

Marquis Book Publishing Tent – Front Plaza 1 pm