“The smell of overcooked vegetables reminds me of poetry," writes Billeh Nickerson, "because during my high school years, the audience for my poetry was limited to A) reading to myself in the mirror, B) reading to my cat, or C) reading to friends in the cafeteria. I learned early on that people tend to move slower just after eating, so even if someone wasn’t necessarily in the mood for a poem, I knew they’d be less inclined to get up and move if I caught them with a full stomach. In other words, the bigger the entrée, say a Salisbury steak, the more poems I got to read. . . . It wasn’t the most ideal situation — I could have done without the constant interruptions from the janitors clearing tables — but it was a start.”

A ground-breaking figure on Canada’s literary scene, Billeh is co-editor with John Barton of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Men’s Poetry (“the first of its kind that reveals a national queer poetic that is equal parts eloquent, subversive, and moving”). His poetry collection, The Asthmatic Glassblower, was nominated for the Publishing Triangle Gay Men’s Poetry Prize for best poetry collection published in the United States. He is also author of the humorous essay collection, Let Me Kiss it Better: Elixirs for the Not So Straight and Narrow. This fall, Billeh launches a new poetry collection, McPoems, which he calls, "Poems from the other side — of the counter."

An instructor at Kwantlen University College in Vancouver, Billeh was writer-in-residence at Queen’s University in 2008. He is a long-time contributing editor with Geist, and former editor of both Event magazine, and Prism international. He is a founding member of the performance troupe "Haiku Night in Canada."

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