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HAPPENING Poetry Night: Wahriz, Barrett, Nguyen, Keteku

May 19, 2022, 7:00 PM8:30 PM EDT

HAPPENING Multicultural Poetry Nights celebrate poets who, among other things, identify as newcomers, refugees, or immigrants. Every Thursday in May (5, 12, 19, 16), there will be a poetry event featuring three poetry readings and an interview.
Despite the fact that poetry inhabits many geographical locations and speaks in different accents and languages, Literature continues to be the most exclusive of arts and the most resistant against outsiders. An immigrant’s linguistic, cultural, and political accents mark them as alien, and hence, undesirable company or colleague among fellow writers and poets.
Poetry Curator: Bänoo Zan
Feature Bios:
Hazrat Wahriz graduated from the Pyatigorsk Linguistic University in Russia. He took on various jobs: journalism, teaching, translating, and even worked as a diplomat in Moscow and Seoul. Hazrat settled in Canada in 2013. He is currently teaching, planning and implementing programs for Afghan school children. His books, authored or translated, have been published in Persian, Russian and Japanese in Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Japan.
Gavin Barret
Gavin Barrett is the author of Understan (Mawenzi House, 2020), a CBC Books recommendation. He has been published in Joao Roque Literary Journal, Fresh Voices, Ranjit Hoskoté’s anthology of 14 contemporary Indian poets, Reasons for Belonging (Viking Penguin, India); Pen India’s journal; The Folio; The Independent; The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad; and Bombay Poetry Circle’s Poeisis and I to I. He curates the Tartan Turban Secret Readings which promote IBPOC writers, serves on the Advisory Board for Canadian Authors Association (Toronto) and is Board Co-Chair for immigrant journalism non-profit New Canadian Media.
Hoa Nguyen
Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books including Red Juice: Poems 1998 – 2008 and the Griffin Prize nominated Violet Energy Ingots. Her latest collection of poems, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, published by Wave Books in 2021, was a finalist for a 2021 National Book Award and the General Governor’s Literary Award for Poetry. A well-regarded and popular teacher of creative writing, Hoa is associated with several writing programs including the Milton Avery School for Fine Arts at Bard College. In 2019, her body of work was nominated for a Neustadt Prize for Literature, a prestigious international literary award often compared with the Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised and educated in the United States, Hoa lives in Tkaronto with her family.
Ian Keteku
Ian Keteku is a writer, director and multimedia artist. He has written and directed short films for TVO, CBC and Sesame Street. An award-winning poet, Keteku is the 2010 World Poetry Slam Champion. He uses his voice to inspire messages of peace, action, and critical thought. With a heritage in Ghana, Ian’s work is strongly influenced by his upbringing and journeys throughout Africa. His work follows in the lineage of ancient African storytellers by paying homage to the past and revisiting themes and lessons from previous generations.
About the Festival:
HAPPENING Multicultural Festival is the first and only Toronto festival created by community artists, giving center stage to the talent and skills of immigrant, newcomer, and refugee artists. This multi-arts platform includes music, dance, visual arts, community-engaged arts, storytelling, spoken word, and poetry. HAPPENING gives space to embrace the cultural richness of our city while creating professional development opportunities for artists, as well as offering a platform for organizations to connect and form meaningful collaborations.
About the Curator:
Bänoo Zan is a poet and poetry curator with over 200 published pieces and three books, including Songs of Exile and Letters to My Father. She is the founder of Shab e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse and brave poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012).
To learn more about HAPPENING Multicultural Festival, visit:


May 19, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT