Read All Over — Chris Gilpin


Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.


Chris Gilpin is the Co-Director of Verses Festival of Words and Hullabaloo: BC’s Youth Spoken Word Festival. He’s also a spoken word poet himself, having won the 2011 Vancouver Individual Slam championship, as well as the 2012 Erotica and Nerd Slams. You can find out more about his work at

What are you currently reading? Your thoughts on it?

The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time by Beau Sia. Poems like “Seriously Wanna Get Naked With You Right Now,” “So You’re Not Into Asian Guys,” and “Did I Really Need to Write the Previous Poem?” let you know that this is a new kind of no-holds barred poetry. His poems are ambushes, but sincere ones. He’s not trying to shock or impress with irony or linguistic flourishes. He has something to say and he makes sure you hear it. I’m really looking forward to his first-ever Vancouver performance at Speak Bloody. He’s a huge figure in the spoken word movement but no one here has ever seen him perform.

How do you like your books served up best – audio books, graphic novels, used paperbacks, library loaner, e-reader…? 

I’m a conventional book guy. I have an entire bookshelf filled with poetry books, anthologies, chapbooks, and CDs. But a lot of the poetry I hear these days comes from YouTube or – or live performance. I’m at the Vancouver Poetry Slam at Café Deux Soleils nearly every Monday.

Who is your favourite Vancouver/Lower Mainland writer? 

Geoff Berner is the best poet in Vancouver. People think I’m joking when I say that, but I’m deadly serious. Just because he happens to sing his poetry instead of speaking it doesn’t make any difference to me. The words are what matter and his lyrics are as good as any published poetry.

What books have changed your life?

Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong completely changed how I view the literary and oral traditions. After reading it, I realized that, while we use the word ‘illiterate’ to describe a lack of literacy, there’s no equivalent word to describe a lack of orality. So I came up with ‘snoral’ as a new adjective for text-based performance that fails at public speaking and puts you to sleep.

The one book you always recommend is…

Fernando Raguero has about 5 or 6 amazing chapbooks filled with some of the funniest poetry you will ever read. He’s like Bukowski but more scatalogical, and also more compassionate. It’s light verse with a darkly comic edge.

What’s next on your reading list?

I’m excited to dig in to Glitter in the Blood by Mindy Nettifee. She calls it “A Poet’s Manifesto for Better, Braver Writing”. There’s a lot of buzz around her work in the American scene. I’ve seen her perform at Van Slam once and she tore the roof off the place. She’s coming back to perform with Beau at the Speak Bloody show.

What writer would you love to see read their work?

The most consistently awe-inspiring writer I’ve seen on stage is Ivan Coyote. Ivan has a way of mesmerizing the whole audience in a few seconds. There’s a realness there that draws you in. Ivan’s books are terrific, but there’s so much preparation and collaboration in the live shows. I really look forward to them.

Rae Spoon recently joined Ivan for a terrific show called Gender Failures. Veda Hille – one of Vancouver’s favourite musicians – will be teaming up with Ivan for a big show on Commercial Drive on April 9th called simply Ivan Coyote & Veda Hille. It’s one of the highlights of the Verses Festival that I help to coordinate.

Your life story is published tomorrow. What’s the title?

Artistic Yelling for Drunk People.

The Verses Festival of Words runs April 8-13 at various venues on and near Commercial Drive. A full schedule can be found at