Brickyard is an audio/visual hub where Brick Books is proud to showcase excellence in Canadian spoken word and orature. Over the past few years, Brickyard has featured some of the most captivating writing, poetry, storytelling, dub poetry, jazz poetry, sound poetry, performance poetry, slam poetry, and acapella rap this country has to offer.
A program of Canadian publisher Brick Books, Brickyard was born in order to provide a much-needed online publishing platform for some of the culturally and aesthetically diverse literature being produced and performed across northern Turtle Island, a way to celebrate artists whose work is centred on performance, rather than the page. We envision Brickyard as Brick’s “orature imprint”; a virtual space where students can learn, audiences can be inspired, and the art of the spoken word can come alive!
Before there were books, there was spoken word; it is where the story of literature begins. Spoken word proclaims the importance of speaking out and using captivating oratory and skillful linguistics to share our perspectives. It is an art form through which we can proclaim our identities, share both our pain and our victories, speak truth to power, and tell the truth of our lived experiences.
The work showcased on Brickyard is a celebration of oratory artistry and a verbal manifestation of activism, community, creative innovation and, most of all, of possibility. As Brickyard curator Adebe DeRango-Adem proclaimed at Brickyard’s first live event, it is a space dedicated to the celebration of “poetry in the key of urgency.”
For the past 45 years, Brick Books has been committed to publishing high-quality, culturally significant Canadian poetry.
In 2017 Brick Books received a project grant from Ontario Creates to launch the first, audio-only phases of Brickyard. During this time curator/poets, Jenny Blackbird, Lamoi Simmonds, Andrea Thompson, and Valentino Assenza were hired to solicit and record new, paid audio samples from a wide variety of poets and artists, including authors whose work had not previously been featured on the Brick Books print list. Another Ontario Creates grant in 2018 allowed the project to continue and for Adebe DeRango-Adem to be hired as curator and project coordinator.
In 2019, Adebe helped produce the first live Brickyard event, which took place at a venue in Toronto’s Kensington Market. This inaugural launch featured performances by Valentino Assenza, Mahlikah Awe:ri, Ian Keteku, and Charlie Petch. A second live event took place in early 2020, and featured Leyla Pavão Chisamore, Stedmond Pardy, David Silverberg, and Andrea Thompson.
Over the course of two years, Brickyard audio featured over 40 artists on the Brick Books YouTube channel, including Griffin Poetry Prize Winner Kaie Kellough, Juno award winner Lillian Allen, Governor General’s Award Winner George Elliott Clarke, Order of Canada Recipient Sheri-D Wilson, international best-selling author Jesse Thistle, and many other beloved and celebrated artists.
As part of the evolution of the Brickyard project, we have created a new home for Brickyard – through a YouTube channel designed to showcase our audio archives, as well as video clips of spoken word artists in performance. Thanks to a 2021 Canada Council for the Arts Sector Innovation grant and an Ontario Arts Council Arts Response grant, Brickyard has several new programs in the works to help us continue showcasing excellence in spoken word and to encourage emerging artists and community partnerships. Watch for details on this new programming, coming soon!
The Brickyard Team
Andrea Thompson, Artistic Director
Rayzel Bermudez, Digital Marketing Coordinator