February 5, 2022

Speaking Poetry from the Ashes

Spoken Word


A spoken word presentation in partnership with TIFA and Lit Fest Bergen.

Artist Desiree Mckenzie

Desiree Mckenzie, Photo courtesy of the artist


Three rising star Canadian artists, Kelisha Daley, Shahaddah Jack and Martin Gomes, speak poetry to power in this raw and inspiring spoken word presentation hosted live by Desiree Mckenzie. Performers are the JAYU iAM Programme mentees: a youth-led arts and social justice mentorship for equity-seeking youth in Canada aged 12–26. Desiree Mckenzie is an award-winning performer and arts educator who, in 2019, earned the title of Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Champion.

This event is presented as part of the Bergen International Literary Festival, a five-day festival that celebrates international and Norwegian fiction and non-fiction. It will be showcased during Literature Live Around the World, a collaboration project composed of 11 festivals and literature centres from every continent who have joined forces to provide the second edition of this unique literary program.

About Desiree Mckenzie, Host

Desiree Mckenzie (she/her) is an award-winning poet, arts educator, national poetry slam champion, voice actor and photographer from Toronto, Ontario. Her poetry and voice have been featured in works for CBC’s Poetic License series, VIBE Arts NExT Exhibit, When Sisters Speak, Clearco Financial’s International Women’s Day Campaign, Kids Help Phone and Home Depot. In 2020, she was awarded the JAYU iAM Arts for Human Rights Award, recognizing creatives doing exceptional work where the arts and human rights intersect. As a facilitator, she works with organizations like Unity Charity, JAYU, Poetry In Voice and VIBE Arts, bringing poetry into classrooms and community spaces across the country. In March 2021, she released her EP, Wet Hair, now available on streaming platforms.

About Kelisha Daley

A poet by any other name should be called Kelisha Daley, who is adamant that life is romantic, even in its mundaneness. At 26, Daley is an emerging multidisciplinary artist, actor, writer, designer and poet. Daley graduated from Humber College in 2020 where she received three years of theatrical training in performative arts. Her film projects include The Bliss of Falling, produced with The And, Stages Company in 2020; the self-produced film Where There Is Room to BloomThe Promotion (directed by Mike Regis) and Mismatch (directed by Tasha Gray). Her upcoming self-produced project, to mad women everywhere, is part of FILM POV’s 2021 en/Vision Lab.

About Martin Gomes

Martin Gomes recently obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at York University, where he studied music. As the ringleader of his band JuiceBox, they won the Toronto International Film Festival’s Battle of the Scores competition in 2020. He got hella characteristics to choose from: beat boxer, musician, chorister, model, writer and poet. His goal is to develop a space where he and his homies can survive, thrive and live their lives at their pace.

About Shahaddah Jack

Born and raised in Tkaronto with a diverse cultural background that grounds her in her poetry and life is Shahaddah Jack. The 17-year-old bilingual spoken word poet, performer, emcee, human rights activist, arts facilitator and student of life takes a poetic stance on human rights and social justice in her work. Her poetry speaks to the lived black experience, the intersectionality of womanhood and adolescence’s adversity. Jack has performed on many stages, including TIFF Bell Lightbox, Meridian Hall and the Toronto Centre for the Arts. As a mentor, she has facilitated poetry, human rights and artist mentoring workshops with organizations like BGC, Guelph University and JAYU.

Dates & Times

February 5
60 mins

Keywords Performance