Jillian Christmas

jillian
Jillian Christmas was born and raised in Markham, Ontario. She currently lives in Vancouver, BC., where she serves as Artistic Director of Versəs Festival of Words. She has won Grand Poetry-Slam Championship titles at both the Vancouver BedRocc poetry-slam (2011), as well as the Vancouver Poetry Slam (2012, 2014). To date, Jillian has held spots on five Canadian slam teams, has competed in nine North American national poetry slams, including proudly representing Vancouver at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, Minnesota (2013) and Austin, Tx (2014).

Jillian’s work has been published in a number of collections, most recently including Matrix New Queer Writing (issue 98), and acclaimed anthology The Great Black North.

An enthusiastic organizer within the Canadian poetry community, Jillian has participated in, developed and executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod’s Travelling Slam and the CULTCH IGNITE mentorship, and facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.

She is the founder of Toronto’s acclaimed Peace Pipe Poetry Sessions on Yonge St., former Artistic director of the East Van Culture Awards, as well as past Volunteer coordinator for Hullabaloo: Youth Spoken Word Festival. From 2011 – 2014 Jillian was a dedicated member of Spoken Word Canada’s board of directors. Holding first Secretary and Member at Large positions, her duties included the development of national policy to improve political dynamics within the spoken word community, as well as increase anti-oppression initiatives.

Jillian continues to tour the continent extensively, finding great joy in collaborative projects with a slew of exceptional artists, experimenting with music/poetry fusion, sharing stages and stories with the likes of The Recipe, C.R. Avery, and powerhouse vocalist Chelsea D. E. Johnson. As her most recent artistic endeavour, Jillian is preparing to go back on the road with her band Late Night Ruckus.


The Gospel of Breaking

Dear, God

Is it wrong that so long after our separation,
I still see your face everywhere?

The holy water between my legs when she touches me
The wet in her eyes, head pressed back, her sinner mouth too full of heaven
This bruised knee city
Springing with all the wrong kinds of love
And all the best company to enjoy it in.

I was birthed into a church too comfortable with a God who would make closets into coffins,
But I have been born again, into the religion of lost souls
Baptized under bourbon kissed streetlight
And a halo of smoke plumes

There is laughter and blood in my cheek
And more than enough of it to feed the masses

Today,
I see you in every busted lip, and back room hand-job
My God, who has been so quiet,
This must be your work.
As baffling as all of your other mercies.

  • Jillian Christmas (unpublished, 2014)

 

How Some Folks Learn the Blues