Michael V. Smith is a writer, performer, filmmaker, and full Professor teaching Creative Writing in the interdisciplinary department of Creative Studies at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC. Smith is an MFA grad from UBC’s Creative Writing program (1998).
Smith’s most recent project is The Floating Man, a feature documentary in which Smith ‘bares all’ to examine his gender construction, using his visual art and performance practice to examine a lifetime of untrue stories about his body.
Smith’s most recent book is the translation of his memoir, My Body Is Yours, published by Éditeur TRIPTYQUE. Find Ceci est mon corps here. Translated by the amazing Benoît Laflamme. [Vous êtes francais/e? Cliquez ici pour plus d’information.]
A new poetry book, Queers Like Me, is forthcoming in Fall 2023 with Book*hug.
Smith has won a number of awards for both his short film work and his writing. “I Dream a Queer Allegory”, made in collaboration with R.M. Vaughan and friends, won Best Video by Poets in the Cadence Video Poetry Festival, 2021. Smith won the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Award for Emerging Gay Writers. He’s won a Western Magazine Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Journey Prize. Smith’s novel, Cumberland (Cormorant Books, 2002), was nominated for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. As a member of the Miss Nomer Collective, their short film ‘Girl on Girl’ won the Colin Campbell Award for Best Canadian Male Short and the Best Canadian Female Short Award at the Inside Out Festival in Toronto.
His videos have played around the world, in cities such as Milan, Dublin, Turin, London, New York, Toronto, Paris, Geneva, Berlin, Glasgow, Lisbon, Beirut, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, SF, LA and Bombay. He has screened work at the British Film Institute, at the Lincoln Center with the New York Video Festival, and in the Vancouver International Film Festival.
As a performer, Smith has played dozens of cabarets and festivals, including Toronto’s VideoFag, nGbK gallery in Berlin, Junge Triebe Festival in Bielefeld, Germany, the 2011 Performance Studies International Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands, the Vancouver Fringe Festival, the Entzaubert Festival in Berlin, Encuentro 2014 in Montreal, the Vancouver Comedy Festival, and an intervention with the Raumerweiterungshalle, Berlin, to name a few.
He organizes PONY, an annual queer cabaret, and co-presents the Student Okanagan Film Festival, both in Kelowna, BC.
His first book of poetry What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions, 2006) was short-listed for the ReLit Prize. In 2008, he published a hybrid book of concrete poems/photographs, Body of Text (Book*hug), created with photographer David Ellingsen. His latest book of poetry BAD IDEAS was released in May, 2017, from Nightwood Editions.
Michael V. Smith’s second novel, Progress, was published Spring 2011 with Cormorant Books. His memoir, My Body Is Yours, was published in 2015 by Arsenal Pulp Press. A French translation is just out from les Éditions Triptyque. For more info, click books!
Check out Soundtrack, a queer oral history project, recorded live weekly from Sept 7 to Nov 9, 2021, featuring guests Ivan Coyote, Nicola Harwood, Zoe Whittall, SJ Sindu, Brianna Ferguson, Lucas Crawford, Ryan G. Hinds, Hasan Namir, and Suzette Mayr. Or watch them on YouTube.
Check out past LIVE BROADCASTS from MVS’s storytelling show, Have I told you the one about… At the start of the pandemic, MVS told “true stories for adult audiences” each night, live on YouTube for over two months. Some special guests also appear, with their own amazing stories.
new film: The Floating Man
MVS has just recently completed a feature doc about how his art practice helped him to remake his complicated relationship to masculinity. Want to program this film in your festival? Get in touch!
new chapbook: Grandma Cooper’s Corpse
Order a copy of Michael V.’s new chapbook Grandma Cooper’s Corpse from a great new small press out of the Okanagan: Broke Press!
In this stunning, genre-bending poetic monologue, Smith uses his expert narrative skills to recount the hilarious yet heartbreaking family tale of trying to locate his estranged grandmother’s corpse. Smith moves easily between tragedy and comedy creating a dynamic and complex portrait of a family who—despite living in close proximity in their small Ontario town—are torn apart by rivalry, resentment, poverty, and mental illness.
—Kathryn Mockler, publisher of the online climate journal Watch Your Head
Reviews for BAD IDEAS:
“With a specific eye for details, and an airiness to the poetry itself, Smith is able to transport readers into disparate worlds, revealing the fissures and chasms in the human experience…
The poems in Bad Ideas are by turns revelatory and dazzling; Smith moves from subject to subject, creating landscapes (and dreamscapes) that are intricate and still relatable…
In Bad Ideas, Smith explores all our bad impulses, surprising the reader with his honesty, his empathy, and the generous way he reveals us back to ourselves.”
– Canadian Literature Quarterly, Reviewed by Andrea MacPherson
“Michael V. Smith’s new poetry collection, Bad Ideas, is comprised of meditations on mourning, longing, sexuality, and gender. Throughout the book are poems about the passing of Smith’s father, poems that question masculinity, and poems that strive for joy. Oh, and there’s a bunch of loveable dogs in there, too…
Smith’s frequent tactic is to lead with humour – to disarm the reader by emphasizing the unexpected and farcical. The book is divided into four sections: “Prayers,” “Dreams of Friends and Family,” “Queer,” and “Little Things.” The first section, which sports the most sober title, also contains the most humorous material; in contrast, the final section, with arguably the lightest moniker, nevertheless contains the heaviest content and some of the book’s lengthiest poems. The section titles are inverse to the material: they do not serve as the usual primer for what is to come, but rather as a source of destabilization.”
– Quill and Quire, Reviewer: Stevie Howell