Born and raised in Markham, Ontario, Jillian Christmas serves as Artistic Director of Versəs Festival of Words. An enthusiastic organizer and activist in the Canadian arts community, Jillian’s focus is to increase anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. Jillian’s work has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post, and published in a number of collections, including Matrix New Queer Writing (issue 98), The Post Feminist Post, Plenitude Magazine, Room Magazine and celebrated anthology, The Great Black North. She has participated in, developed and executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod’s Travelling Slam, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Opera, and the CULTCH Mentorship, and facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.
Black Feminist (Gr. 7+)
The slam poem “Black Feminist” was performed by Jillian Christmas in 2015 but is rightly getting a lot of attention online now. For a long time, feminism has used straight, white, cisgender, middle-class, and otherwise privileged women as its default, but that has started to change more and more in recent years, thanks in large part to women of colour (as well as women from other marginalized groups) speaking out about the problem. “Black Feminist” highlights the issues with the way black women are often treated in feminist spaces, and it’s a must-listen for feminists everywhere.
Other Poetry from Jillian Christmas
Jillian Christmas – Monarch Butterflies
Jillian Christmas came in 3rd place with a score of 83.3 at the Vancouver Poetry Slam Finals on April 8th at The Rio Theatre, putting her on the 2013 Vancouver Poetry Slam Team. This is Jillian’s first-round poem Monarch Butterflies.
Jillian Christmas – “Just How some Folks Play the Blues”
Catching up with Jillian Christmas—an interview by Matthew Walsh
How did you become involved in the world of slam poetry?
As a young malcontent, poetry was a natural salve for the worries and angst of my adolescent life, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I was introduced to the stage. I found myself on a terribly awkward date back in 2008; as I was filing through reasons to end the visit and ways to gracefully depart, my date asked if I’d like to watch a DVD. I supposed that I could survive a DVD, at least neither of us would have to talk. The DVD was Russel Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam, it changed my entire life. The date and I didn’t have much of a future, but I did meet one of the great loves of my life that night.
What attracts you to spoken word as an artistic medium?
I love any form of communication that involves direct contact. I crave the ability to look my audience in the eyes, to share the story with them and allow their reactions to shape my delivery. Spoken word is a conversation and I love a good conversation.
About Jillian Christmas’ appearance at Wordfest 2016
Jillian Christmas offers presentations for students of grade 7 and up. In addition to her spoken word and musical performances, Jillian is also available to lead workshops for groups of less than 30 students in attendance. She offers workshops on editing, writing for music, poetry collaborations and collaborative writing projects in general. Should your school organize a Slam Poetry contest, Jillian may be able to provide coaching and tips for your students. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your ideas and how we could help make it happen.