Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao

May 4, 2023
Field:

Reading, Performance

Location:

Grand Luxe Hall, Western Front

Time:

7:00 p.m.

Description:

Produced in partnership with The Capilano Review, Dear Friends & is a monthly series showcasing the work of local and touring Canadian writers. Taking place on the first Thursday of each month, readings are hosted in the Grand Luxe Hall and made available to virtual audiences by livestream.

The series’ name draws inspiration from the salutations and sign-offs used by Roy Kiyooka in Transcanada Letters (1975), a collection which details the comings and goings of his literary sociality across Canada, the network of people and relations that enfold his writing, and the longings of his “Heart’s Geography” to be near the ones he loved. Kiyooka was an important figure for both Western Front and The Capilano Review, and this series invites his spirit of kinship, connection, and conviviality into the reading space.

The first event of the series featured readings by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, and beni xiao. Each writer presented twenty-minute sets that included new work and selections from published texts. 

Following a short introduction to the series by way of a recorded video from Deanna Fong, literary editor of The Capilano Review, the evening began with a reading by Bird that included excerpts from their forthcoming debut poetry collection The All + Flesh (2023). Xiao read work that included poems published in Queer Little Nightmares: An Anthology of Monstrous Fiction and Poetry (2022) and “Bad Feelings,” the Spring 2023 issue of The Capilano Review. Belcourt closed the evening with a new suite of poems titled The Cruising Utopia Sonnets and excerpts from his debut novel A Minor Chorus (2022). 

The readings unfolded against a projected image by resident artist Christian Vistan, who was invited to inhabit the peripheral spaces of Dear Friends & through a series of conceptual graphics, backgrounds, interventions, and ephemera reflecting on themes of friendship and correspondence through art.  

The evening was hosted by Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross, art editor of The Capilano Review; and Kiel Torres, content writer & editor at Western Front. 

Presented with support from Kootenay School of Writing.

Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, video documentation, May 4, 2023. 56 min. 41 sec. Camera by Qiuli Wu.
Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross stands holding a cordless microphone with her left hand and a piece of printer paper in her right hand while addressing the audience in the Grand Luxe Hall. She is positioned in front of a projected image by Christian Vistan. The abstract composition shows a line drawing evoking links of a chain cascading across ten white squares that descend diagonally across a black surface.
Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Holding a cordless microphone in her right hand, Kiel Torres reads from a piece of paper in her left hand while addressing the audience in the Grand Luxe Hall. She is positioned in front of a projected image by Christian Vistan. The abstract composition shows a line drawing evoking links of a chain cascading across ten white squares that descend diagonally across a black surface.
Kiel Torres at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Standing behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall, Brandi Bird addresses the audience. They hold loose sheets of paper in their right hand, and gesture with their left hand.
Brandi Bird reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Brandi Bird stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall. Speaking to the audience, Bird holds loose sheets of paper in their right hand. Their left palm is placed on the edge of the lectern as they casually lean towards the microphone.
Brandi Bird reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Brand Bird stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall. Their gaze is cast down as they read from loose sheets of papers held in their left hand. Bird is positioned in front of a projected image by Christian Vistan. The abstract composition shows a line drawing evoking links of a chain cascading across ten white squares that descend diagonally across a black surface.
Brandi Bird reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Beni xiao stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall, idiosyncratically gesturing with their right hand while introducing their reading material. They are positioned in front of a projected image by Christian Vistan. The abstract composition shows a line drawing evoking links of a chain cascading across ten white squares that descend diagonally across a black surface.
beni xiao reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Beni xiao stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall. Their gaze is cast down as they read from a book placed on the surface of the lectern. Their right hand is placed flat on their reading material while their left hand is in an upturned gesture.
beni xiao reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Beni xiao stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall and looks out towards the audience.
beni xiao reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Billy-Ray Belcourt stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall. They address the audience while adjusting the collar on their denim jacket.
Billy-Ray Belcourt reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Billy-Ray Belcourt stands behind a lectern in the Grand Luxe Hall. He grips the edges of the lectern while leaning into the affixed microphone.
Billy-Ray Belcourt reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.
Billy-Ray Belcourt stands behind a lectern affixed with a microphone in the Grand Luxe Hall while reading from a hard-cover novel held in his left hand. He is caught mid word while turning the page with his right hand.
Billy-Ray Belcourt reading at Dear Friends &: Billy-Ray Belcourt, Brandi Bird, beni xiao, May 4, 2023. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.

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Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.