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Writers at school


Catherine Kidd

Poetry, Nouvelle


Catherine Kidd

Catherine Kidd is a Montreal-based writer and performer. Her solo show Sea Peach won the MECCA [Montreal English Critics’ Circle Award] for Best New Text in 2003, subsequently touring to such festivals and literary events as the Spier Arts Poetry Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, The Edinburgh Fringe, Toronto Harbourfront’s World Stage, and Singapore’s Esplanade on the Bay. An accomplished Voice actor, her voice is heard in documentary narration, air safety messages, museum tours and video games for such clients as Penguin, Cirque du Soleil, and Ubisoft. Catherine is author of the novel Missing the Ark and the poetry collection Bipolar bear. Her new solo show Hyena Subpoena was launched Fall 2011 in Montreal, with plans to tour next year.

Suggested reading*

Missing the ark (Conundrum Press, 2007)
The portable conundrum  (Conundrum Press, 2006)
Bipolar bear (Conundrum Press, 2005)

*These titles have been suggested by the author based on the activities that he/she proposes to students.
It is, however, up to teachers to verify whether the titles are appropriate for their groups (age and education level, specific context, etc.).
Teaching staff are invited to contact the author for clarification on this aspect and assistance in preparing their groups for his/her visit.

Proposed approach and type of activities

A focus of my professional practice has been Writing for Performance, so my artistic approach has been twofold: the first phase of the creative process is taken up with writing, while the second involves rehearsal, memorization, ‘’fine-tuning’’ with an ear to enhancing musicality. The emphasis of these artist workshops would be on this second - the performance phase.

In keeping with a notion of performance as physical embodiment of text, my performance pieces often explore zoological themes as metaphors of the human condition. The poems spring from consideration of a particular species, then expand on a reflection of its qualities to draw in some human parallel or personal anecdote. In form, they are a hybrid of poetry and dramatic monologue, often presented with soundscape and video.

Examples of activities

  • Based on a sense that compelling performance is firstly a matter of locating an authentic Narrative Voice, my approach to teaching literary performance or ‘’spoken word’’ combines a poet’s sense of verbal musicality and word power, with an actor’s sense of timing, intentionality, voice modulation, etc. Workshops would be designed to help students build confidence and skill in performing their own work aloud.
  • Students will come prepared with a sample of their writing to work from, or texts could be generated by free-writing (e.g. a series of “autobiographical” statements not a word of which is true; statements from the point of view of a mystery animal). The goal of the workshop would be to bring these writings as close to “performance ready” as possible, using practical techniques. I’d perform a poem as an ice-breaker at the beginning of the workshop, then have each student read their piece aloud, either to the class or in smaller groups. The next phase would involve rehearsing the pieces in pairs, during which time I’d circulate to assist with techniques on public speaking and fine editing. At the end of the class, students would have a second opportunity to perform their work to the group, in the style of a "spoken word cabaret".
  • If the notion of zoological themes as mirrors to the human condition is interesting to a particular group, I’d propose an activity wherein students preselect any animal which interests them, and become acquainted with a few interesting facts about that species, which they may describe to the group. The workshop would include some free-writing where each student produces a short piece of writing from the point of view of the chosen creature, then as a group we’d read these pieces aloud and brainstorm whatever human parallels or qualities each might suggest. Ideally, each student would leave with a newly-made allegory to associate with his or her chosen animal, to be used as material for spoken story or poem. This example would be more appropriate for a two-hour session, rather than a one-hour.  

Special conditions

While specialized equipment is not necessary, performative texts may be presented with accompanying audio / video materials, where facilities exist.

For information

Catherine Kidd
Phone : 514 276-0839
Email :

Subject to taxes (GST, PST)



Secondary 1, Secondary 2, Secondary 3, Secondary 4, Secondary 5

Available in

Capitale-Nationale, Mauricie, Estrie, Montréal, Outaouais, Laval, Lanaudière, Laurentides, Montérégie

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