On Rage, etc. – Aisha Sasha John


I recently finished a post as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus. Just over a month before the residency began, I sat with Raquel Russell–a writer in the UTSC Communications and Public Affairs department–to discuss my practice and plans for the residency so that she could write a news story that would introduce me to the campus. This occasion was the first time I’d been formally interviewed about my work by another Black woman. This degree of psychic safety produced in me a fruitful candor. And it’s probably the most lucid description I’ve made so far of the relationship between dance and poetry in my life.



Aisha Sasha John is a poet, dancer and choreographer as well as a Griffin Poetry Prize 2018 nominee, and the 2018 University of Toronto (Scarborough) Writer-in-Residence. Her solo performance the aisha of oz premiered at the Whitney Museum in New York in June 2017. The show will have its Canadian premiere as the aisha of is at the MAI in Montreal April 27 + 28, 2018. Aisha is the author of three collections of poetry: I have to live. (McClelland & Stewart 2017), The Shining Material (Book*hug 2011), and THOU (Book*hug 2014), finalist for both the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the ReLit Poetry Award. From 2015-2017, Aisha choreographed, performed and curated as a member of the performance collective WIVES whose performance Feeled earned the collective the 2016 offta Festival Audacity Prize. Aisha’s video work and text art have been exhibited in galleries (Doris McCarthy, Oakville Galleries) and was commissioned by Art Metropole as part of a performance residency Aisha led: Let’s understand what it means to be here (together). She’s presented talks at numerous art institutions in Toronto including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Mercer Union, OCADU and The Power Plant. Aisha has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and a B.A. in African Studies and Semiotics from the University of Toronto. She was born in Montreal.