Poetry in Motion: Charlie Petch + Why I Was Late

Spoken word poet Charlie Petch’s debut Why I Was Late (Brick Books) is a collection that fuses text and performance in a rich exploration of queer love, gender politics, and heroes in unexpected places. Petch brings a transmasculine wisdom and humour to a range of subjects from grief, disability, kink, sexuality, gender politics—nothing is off limits. Below, they tell us about being a political poet and using comedy as a vehicle for opening readers to bigger issues, and share two poems from their book. 


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My poetic style looks to capture an audience of garage mechanics, gender non conformers, and total weirdos. I am a political poet, in that, my identity as a disabled transmasculine/non-binary person, is political. So part of my responsibility as a writer, is not just to translate how I see and experience the world, but also to use my platform to sometimes educate, and always illuminate the practice of decolonization.Often I use the vehicle of comedy to bring forth more radical thinking. When audiences are fully amused, they are also opened up in a particularly effective way to receive bigger messages.I’m a largely uneducated poet, so it’s my local community of workshoppers, and my love of books, that really taught me how to sharpen my poet’s pen, to edit with publication in mind, and how to avoid grammar. I try to reflect the pace of the poem and how it comes out of my mouth, to the page. I am a spoken word poet first, so I come at the page via the stage. My poetry is meant to be read out loud, to be heard in your head, to exist outside of the pages it sits on.

Charlie Petch reads two poems, “Dear CP3O” and “Broiled Meat” from their collection Why I Was Late

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 Petch (they/them, he/him) is a disabled/queer/transmasculine person who resides in Toronto/Tkaronto. Petch’s full-length spoken word vaudeville play Mel Malarkey has toured all over Canada. They have several handsome chapbooks, and Late Night Knife Fights was published with LyricalMyrical Press. A musician, lighting designer, spoken word artist, award-winning playwright, and host, Petch was the 2017 Poet of Honour for Spoken Word Canada, winner of the Golden Beret lifetime achievement in spoken word with The League of Canadian Poets, and founder of Hot Damn It’s a Queer Slam.

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Why I Was Late publishes September 1. Preorder now on All Lit Up >>>