Calgarian spoken word artist Sheri-D Wilson met her first poet in Nanaimo, and credits that encounter for her for own pursuit of poetry.
The year was 1984 and Wilson was in Nanaimo performing in the debut season of TheatreOne precursor Shakespeare Plus. She was with her castmates at the Occidental Hotel when longtime poet and busker Tim Lander launched into a recital.
“All the actors used to go to the Oxy for drinks and who walks in but this Tim Lander fellow from Nanaimo and he got up and read a poem and I was just so stunned and so thrilled by his work. He ended up being someone that I knew and know for many, many, many years and I still love his work,” Wilson said.
“The impression that he made on me was the way he delivered his poems and the way he saw the world and he’s just a remarkable poet and Nanaimo is very lucky to have him.”
At the time, Wilson was just starting to write her own poetry, although back then the term “spoken word” didn’t exist. She said, “Spoken word poetry kind of grew up with me as I was doing it.”
Wilson would go on to write nine collections of poetry, found the spoken word program at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity and she has been teaching master classes in spoken word for more than 20 years.
Wilson will be back in Nanaimo for a spoken word workshop at Vancouver Island University on Feb. 24, followed by an evening performance in VIU Building 356 Room 109. She said her workshop attendees will also get to perform for the audience.
“It’s poetry that is written to be performed,” she said.
“So we’ll be looking at the text and seeing where the possibilities of the performance are within the text and seeing how we can develop the text and then we will be plying word and idea games à la surrealism and Dadaism.”
Wilson will arrive in Nanaimo a couple days early to explore the city and reminisce. Even though she had the opportunity to learn from the likes of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colo., she said, “Seeing Tim Lander really changed my life.”
“I’ll be looking around for him, for sure,” she said.
“He won’t be hard to find because all I have to do is walk down the street and he’ll come walking towards me.”
WHAT’S ON … Spoken word artist Sheri-D Wilson performs at Vancouver Island University Building 356 Room 109 on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. General admission is $10, $8 for students. Tickets available here.