2020 Poetry Awards: Interview with Charlie C Petch

Charlie C Petch is the winner of the 2020 Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award from the League of Canadian Poets.

Find out more about Charlie’s poetry and process below.

LCP: What does poetry mean to you?

CP: For me, poetry is authenticity, a vehicle for change, for growth, play, escape, and nurturing community.

LCP: Who has had a major impact on your poetry career?

CP: Lillian Allen’s advocacy is a major reason why spoken word has gotten the support and recognition it currently has. We all owe a lot of gratitude to her. She continually makes sure poets are also given good instruction from ever increasingly legit institutions like her Spoken Word/Creative Writing BA with the Ontario College of Art & Design. She’s the reason the League has changed criteria for non-page poets and the excellent albums she’s put out into the world have really shown how music and poetry truly belong together. She’s a real inspiration as a leader and a creator.

LCP: Who is an up-and-coming poet that you are excited about?

CP: I am so excited for Nisha Patel’s upcoming poetry collection with NeWest Press in Spring 2021. Ever since I first came across her work when she competed with the Edmonton Poetry Slam Team, I’ve been a very big fan. It’s been amazing to watch her rise and grow in confidence and ability. She’s also making a lot of pathways for youth, south asian and other BIPOC poets. I love a poet who uses their platform to raise others up around them and Nisha is excellent at this.

Locally [Toronto], I’m very excited about Tyler Pennock’s collection “Bones” with Brick Books. I heard their work a few times at open mics and I was like “please come back and like maybe write a book so I can read more of your work” and my wish came true. Tyler is so funny, honest and unflinching. I was looking forward to her launch, and hope to be in his audience before too long so I can get my book signed.

LCP: How are you handling pandemic and your poetry work?

CP: I ran a group for April to do a 30/30 prompting/writing session that went well. It was really low stakes because, well, pandemic, also I like to welcome people to perform at their own pace. I’m readying myself to go through the editing process for my collection and very excited for this. Currently my roommate is back home being an auntie for a few months, so I’ve turned my living room into a sound and writing studio. I’m creating music and poetry pieces, and just enjoying the escape of it. I’ve also joined a weekly page poetry workshop group and they’re really helping me. It’s a funny crossover going from spoken word to seeing the form on the page. Still a very new territory, but I’ve seen a lot of great editing techniques in some of my fellow colleagues’ books, like Jillian Christmas’ “The Gospel of Breaking”.

LCP: What are your next steps?

CP: I have a libretto called “Medusa’s Children” coming out with Opera QTO when the pandemic restrictions are over. I’m currently writing a spoken word theatre piece called “Everything I needed to know about Emergency Response I learned as a Hot Dog Vendor in Downtown Toronto – A De-escalation Technique.” (working title) and my full length poetry book is coming out with Brick Books in Fall 2021. Hot Damn It’s a Queer Slam is back in full swing with online programming as well.