Photo credit
Janice Jo Lee


Charlie Petch (they/them, he/him) is a disabled/queer/transmasculine multidisciplinary artist. Poet, playwright, librettist, musician, lighting designer, and host, Petch was the 2017 Poet of Honour for the speakNORTH national festival, 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. Their debut poetry collection, Why I Was Late (Brick Books), won the 2022 ReLit Award, and was named "Best of 2021" by The Walrus. They have been featured on the CBC's Q, and were longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2021.


Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?

I loved the poem Richard Cory, which, I notice, is in your anthology. It had an honesty and a shock to it that really spoke to me about assumption and expectation and what is achieved when you completely disrupt it. 

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?

I started writing poetry in my teens as a way to sort out my feelings. I didn't really think of myself as primarily a poet until I joined the spoken word/slam community and really found the poetry I wanted to do.

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?

A poet's job is to tell the truth.

If you have a poem in our anthology what inspired you to write it?

I wrote this poem to be a sacrificial poem for poetry slams which are judged by randomly selected people. It lets the audience know that trans poets will sometimes get punished for talking about gender, or not talking about gender. It signals to judges that we should be critiqued in the same way cis people are. 

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?

I am a big fan of Lucia Misch's work and was recently onstage with her as she did this poem "the problem with being a box too small for its contents" for youth groups and loved it.  


Why I Was Late
Brick Books
Nick Thran, Andrea Thompson
Sept, 2021
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