The QWF Community is devastated at the loss of one of its pillars, Ian Ferrier, who passed away on Friday, November 3, 2023.
QWF honoured Ian at our 2022 Awards Gala, presenting him with the Judy Mappin Community Award. Below is the text presented when Ian was conferred the 2022 Judy Mappin Community Award at the 2022 QWF Awards Gala, on November 14, 2022.
For nearly four decades, Ian Ferrier has been a creative and inspirational force in Montreal’s literary community. He has spent his career creating opportunities for local, Canadian, and international artists to develop their artistic processes and share their polished productions.
For the past twenty years, Ian has organized the monthly Words and Music Show in Montreal, producing and hosting nearly 200 live productions, each featuring at least six performers. Words and Music is Montreal’s longest running spoken-word poetry, literature, performance, and music show. It has given emerging and established Quebec artists the opportunity to perform along with top names from across Canada and provided a place for seasoned and new artists to gather and meet. Spoken word performers, musicians, and dancers have benefited from the inspiration of interdisciplinary collaboration, not to mention the loan of Ian’s sound equipment and the joys of his companionship when he drove them home late at night after their shows ended and the metro had stopped running. Because of Ian, money found its way into developing artists’ pockets. He introduced poets to festival organizers, translators, publishers, and other influential people in the industry. He has given countless artists a leg up in their careers, while enriching Quebec’s writing community. All this work was done quietly and without fanfare. Ian Ferrier has simply held the space for the arts to live and flourish.
In 1998, Ian started an award-winning record label – Wired on Words Productions – at his recording studio in the Mile End. Over the years, it has released a diverse range of recordings documenting the voices and sounds of spoken word in Canada, making Montreal an important centre for sharing spoken-word performance. Among the local writers he has recorded are Fortner Anderson, Kaie Kellough, Cat Kidd, and Heather O’Neill. The Wired on Words Productions collection of audiovisual materials documenting the many events Ian has organized and hosted over the course of his career are being catalogued and archived by the SpokenWeb research team at Concordia University so that they can be made accessible for use in teaching, research, and general enjoyment.
In 2010, Ian became editor of LitLive.ca – The Canadian Review of Literature in Performance, contributing to the critical discussion of spoken word and other performance forms of literature. Also in 2010, he started the Mile End Poets’ Festival, a yearly gathering of local, national, and international spoken-word artists presenting shows and organizing workshops here in Montreal.
In addition to his work creating and promoting literary performance art, Ian has worked hard to support his fellow writers in all genres and disciplines. He headed the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) from 2002-2005, presiding over the creation of the Quebec English Language Writers database and the Writers in the Community program. He was instrumental in bringing writers of diverse backgrounds onto the QWF board. The year he stepped down from the QWF, he co-founded ELAN (the English Language Arts Network).
For his commitment to the Montreal writing community, and to literary arts on stage and off, we take great pleasure tonight in presenting Ian Ferrier with the 2022 Judy Mappin Community Award.