Wilde About Sappho: A Pride Reading of Local Queer Writers

City of Victoria Poet Laureate John Barton presents five local queer writers.

Originally planned as a second-annual reading to celebrate Pride Week in the council chambers of Victoria’s City Hall on July 7, 2020, Wilde About Sappho: A Pride Reading of Local Queer Writers was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until it is possible to reschedule, John Barton has invited the five 2SLGBTQIA+ readers to share their work online.

Watch the full video on our YouTube channel.

Through poetry, creative nonfiction, and nonfiction that deal with diverse life experiences from multiple queer points of view, John and the readers celebrate Victoria Pride not only to transcend the social distancing imposed by the pandemic, even as Victoria begins gradually to reopen, but also to break through the isolation that even in 2020 can sometimes still be part of the dailiness of being queer. Mayor Lisa Helps welcomes the readers and everyone listening. She also reads a poem of her own - as does John.

Listen to Mayor Helps' remarks on Pride during a pandemic.

Featured Writers

Serena Lukas Bhandar is a Punjabi Sikh/Welsh/Irish transfemme witch and writer based on the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories. Her Pushcart Prize-nominated writing has appeared in Nameless Woman: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color and Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture, among other publications across Turtle Island and beyond. Aside from writing, Serena also works in community relations with the Anti-Violence Project, sits on the editorial boards of The Malahat Review and Room Magazine, and mentors trans, two-spirit, and non-binary youth through the Trans Tipping Point project.  

Listen to Serena Lukas Bhandar read “There was once a woman named Kahāṇī.”

Read Serena’s text here.

Kai Conradi grew up on K’omoks territory in Cumberland, BC. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Malahat Review, Grain, and PRISM internationl, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize.

Listen to Kai Conradi read “On the ranch I pick up sticks.”

Read Kai’s text here.



Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of over two dozen books for kids and teens. Her books range from picture books (Pride Colours, Ghost’s Journey) to YA (A Thousand Shades of Blue, The World Without Us), and include both fiction and nonfiction. She is a Stonewall Honor winner, Silver Birch Award winner, Lambda Literary Award finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award finalist, and five-time BC Book Prize finalist. She is launching two new books in the spring of 2020: a teen novel, When You Get the Chance, cowritten with Tom Ryan, and a nonfiction book for kids and teens, Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. Robin lives in Victoria with her family.

Listen to Robin Stevenson read “Celebrating Pride in a Refugee Camp.”

Read this excerpt from Robin’s Pride and the Struggle here.

Gregory Scofield is Michif of Cree, Scottish and European-Immigrant descent whose ancestry can be traced to the Métis community of Kinosota, Manitoba and to Bacon Ridge, a former Métis Road Allowance Community that is now part of Ebb & Flow First Nation. He has taught Creative Writing and First Nations and Métis Literature at Laurentian University, Brandon University, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and the Alberta University of the Arts. He currently holds the position of associate professor in the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria. Scofield won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1994 for his debut collection, The Gathering: Stones for the Medicine Wheel, and has since published seven further volumes of poetry including, Witness, I am. He has served as writer-in residence at the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg and Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), and most recently the Writers’ Trust of Canada Latner Poetry Prize (2016) that is awarded to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work. Further to writing and teaching, Scofield is also a skilled bead-worker, and he creates in the medium of traditional Métis arts. He continues to assemble a collection of mid to late 19th century Cree-Métis artifacts, which are used as learning and teaching pieces. Scofield’s first memoir Thunder Through My Veins (Doubleday Canada/Anchor Books)was re-published Fall 2019. 

Listen to Gregory Scofield read “I’ll Teach You Cree”

Read Gregory’s poem here.

Listen to Mayor Lisa Helps read “Public Hearing – Rezoning Application No. 00371 for property known as 1805 Fairfield Road.” here. Read Mayor Helps' poem here.

Wendy Donawa spent much of her adult life in Barbados as educator and museum curator. She has returned to her salty West Coast birthplace, where she is on the board of Planet Earth Poetry and a contributing editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Canadian anthologies and magazines, and in her three chapbooks. Her debut poetry collection, Thin Air of the Knowable (Brick, 2017) was longlisted for the Raymond Souster and a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award. From her writing desk, she can see the Salish Sea and the Sooke Hills.

Listen to Wendy Donawa read “Long Distance Aubade.”

Read Wendy’s poem here.

Listen to John Barton read “From a Rise Overlooking the Bay.”

Read John's poem here.

Wilde about Sappho: A Pride Reading of Local Queer Writers is organized by the City of Victoria and with the support of the Greater Victoria Public Library.