Metro Vancouver, B.C. – It’s been a busy fall semester for Billeh Nickerson, one of Canada’s showiest – and perhaps cheekiest – poets.
Earlier this year, his book Artificial Cherry was short-listed for the 2014 City of Vancouver Book Award, and this week, Nickerson will be part of the Vancouver Writers Fest’s Poetry Bash and Al Purdy Show events – the latter a tribute reading to the late great Canadian poet.
Nickerson, who will read from his latest collection of colourful, witty and wise poems, says Artificial Cherry is a return to the cheekier side of his writing
“I’ve been describing it as cheeky-sweet. It explores the bawdier side of bodies, but also the quirky side of the writing life,” said the author, whose previous books include McPoems – a collection of poetry about fast food – and Impact: The Titanic Poems.
Described by the City of Vancouver Book Award jury as poems that “play with pop culture references and deconstruct the everyday into resonant moments,” Artificial Cherry goes from Elvis Presley, to glass eyes, to phantom lovers and hockey haiku.
“Unlike many poets, I’m not afraid to laugh – or cry for that matter. This is a book with more laughter than tears however,” he added.
When he’s not writing, the chair of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) creative writing department is teaching at his alma mater.
“I took my first creative writing class at the then named Kwantlen College in 1991. I started teaching a section of that class in 2006 and am now the department chair,” he said.
KPU has offered a full-fledged bachelor of arts in creative writing program for a couple of years, with classes on various campuses. Born in Halifax but raised in Langley, Nickerson still makes time to make the commute from East Vancouver.
“I graduated from Langley Senior Secondary in 1990 and have fond memories of my time there. I make sure to teach a class in Langley each spring. My parents have resided there in the same house for over 35 years. My mom meets me for coffee before class, so she’s happy I teach there, too.”
Next for Nickerson is another collection of poetry, and a non-fiction work about his grandfather, who was an official photographer for the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII.
The Vancouver Writers Fest runs from Tuesday, Oct. 21 to Sunday, Oct. 26. Nickerson and his fellow KPU colleague Aislinn Hunter will both be giving readings; Hunter from her new novel The World Before Us.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
Media Specialist, KPU