“Worst Case Ontario” Tour Heads for Ottawa 7
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“Worst Case Ontario” Tour Heads for Ottawa

5 poets, 8 cities, 9 days.

“Worst Case Ontario” Tour Heads for Ottawa 5
Worst Case Ontario

The Worst Case Ontario (WCO) tour has been on the road since August 21 and is heading for the home stretch, performing at Black Squirrel Books in Ottawa on August 29 (after their show on August 28th, at Ted’s Loft in Montreal).

The tour features five young Canadian writers touring to eight cities in Canada and the States.
Now, as you might know, touring can be expensive. Especially if the participants are from low income backgrounds and working minimum wage jobs. But what to do if you are a disparate group of award winning writers who are in high demand, but are off the radar in terms of government grants for things like touring? And stuff to eat while on tour?

Well helloooooo crowdsourcing!

They launched a Kickstarter campaign in July with the hopes of raising $1000 towards their goal of going on tour.

They ended up bringing in $3, 910.

“Worst Case Ontario” Tour Heads for Ottawa 6
Limited edition chapbook (cover) featuring poetry and fiction by all five writers. HURTIN’ CRÜE PRESS

This allowed them to get things going with their Toronto show at the The White House Studio Project on August 21. After that it was on to the Mahtay Café in St. Catherines, and a stop at The Rex in Welland, both on the 22nd. Next they hit Pittsburgh on the 23, for their first American date before heading for Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop (August 25), Boston’s Trident Booksellers and Café (26th), Montreal on the 28th and back home (for some) to Ottawa on the 29th.

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No sleep ’til….

In many ways, the idea behind the WCO tour reminded me of the Perpetual Motion Roadshow (2003-2007), an indie-press tour circuit that had an east coast loop of North America in the spring, and a west coast loop in the fall. The difference with WCO is that, through social media and crowdfunding, they were able to create an online presence, gather an audience, and get funding, before they hit the road.

And for those who don’t have access to “traditional” forms of funding, that way lies the future.

Worst Case Ontario hits Ottawa

Hussy Reading Series
Black Squirrel Books 

1073 Bank St



The Poets

Jessica Bebenek

“Worst Case Ontario” Tour Heads for Ottawa
Credit: WCO

Co-founder of the micro-press Grow & Grow, Bebenek is the author of three chapbooks and her work has appeared in Prairie Fire, Grain, The Puritan, and Little Brother.


JC Bouchard

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Credit: WCO

As well as being long-listed for the CBC Poetry Prize, and receiving an honourable mention for the John Newlove Poetry Award from Bywords, Bouchard’s work has also appeared in Arc, untethered, In/Words, (parenthetical), Rappahannock Review, Control, and more.


dalton derkson

“Worst Case Ontario” Tour Heads for Ottawa 2
Credit: Sandro Pehar

derkson’s work has appeared in ottawater, SPANK the CARP, and In/Words Magazine, and he also runs the D.I.Y collective: Hurtin’ Crüe Press.


JM Francheteau

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Credit: WCO

Francheteau organizes the Ottawa Zine Off!  and his work has appeared in V2, Arc, Broken Pencil and untethered. His second chapbook is out with Hurtin’ Crüe Press.


Julie Mannell

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Credit: WCO

Recipient of a Roseanne Barr Vagenius Award, as well as the Lionel Shapiro Award for Excellency in Creative Writing and The Mona Adilman Poetry Prize, Mannell’s work has appeared in several magazines, journals and textbooks, and she currently writes for the Huffington Post.


You can find out a little bit more about them and read samples of their poetry by doing that thing where you click the embedded link near the beginning of this sentence.



Check out the Worst Case Ontario’s tour on Instagram photos.

Or join them on Facebook, Worst Case Ontario Tour: The Final Destination


Brendan McNally is a regular contributor to OttawaTonite.com.