Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Announcing the VERSeOttawa Hall of Honour: William Hawkins and Greg Frankson

VERSeOttawa works constantly towards supporting poetry and the poetry community in Ottawa, but we are not the first to do this. There have been many important people who have helped create, shape and support this artform that we love and the community that has built up around it.

It is with this in mind that VERSeOttawa has decided to create the VERSeOttawa Hall of Honour. It is our way of recognizing the important contributions made to the Ottawa poetry community, whether through poetry itself or other methods of support (or, as is often the case, both). Each year a nomination committee will choose two worthy inductees whose work will be honoured that year, and into the future.

An induction ceremony will be conducted as part of VERSeFest. This year that will take place on March 17th.

The nomination committee this year has chosen two people to be the first inducted in to the VERSeFest Hall of Honour.

We are proud to recognize William Hawkins and Greg ‘Ritallin’ Frankson


As a poet, William Hawkins was nationally-known and regarded as Ottawa’s best and certainly most dangerous poet from 1964 to 1974. He published a number of books, including the infamous Ottawa Poems, published by Nelson Ball’s weed/flower. Hawkins appeared in the anthology New Wave Canada, edited by Raymond Souster as the last publication by Contact Press.

As an organizer/host, Hawkins ran Ottawa’s infamous coffeehouse Le Hibou through the 1960s with his wife. He hosted performances by Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and dozens, if not hundreds of others.

He was an advocate, writer and large presence during a period of Ottawa poetry that had very few of any of those; he was also a writer actively reading, writing and publishing, and connecting to a community far wider than that of the immediate city.

You can read more about him at his website, here:

Greg Frankson debuted as Ritallin in Ottawa in 2003. In 2004 he represented Ottawa at the Wordlympics (now known as the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word), and did so again in 2006. In addition to being a full-time professional artist, Greg recently was on the team that won the 2012 Canadian Slam Championships (though now representing Toronto).

Immediately following the Wordlympics in 2004, Greg co-founded Capital Slam, now one of the longest running monthly slam series in the country. He ran Capital Slam and the Capital Poetry Collective for 2 years where he created the template for a stable, supportive, inspiring slam series. He also founded the Bill Brown 1-2-3 series.

Before moving to Toronto, Greg co-founded the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam. Creating this environment for young poets to come and share their work was a crucial step in the evolution of the spoken word poetry scene in Ottawa. The poets coming out of the slam have received great accolades, but even more important is the fact that it is a place where all youth can have a voice and share their art.

So while Greg’s work was crucial to help create the current Ottawa spoken word scene, through the Youth Slam his work is just as crucial to the future of the scene as well.

Greg’s website can be found here:


More information about VERSeFest can be found here:

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