Brendan McLeod is a Toronto based writer, spoken word artist, theatre artist, and musician. He’s the author of one novel, The Convictions of Leonard McKinley, a one woman play, The Big Oops, three monologues — the most recent of which is his award-winning piece on consciousness Brain, and a collaborative spoken word/music show with classical pianist Sarah Hagen, Exultation. He is the founder of The Fugitives, a folk group signed to Borealis Records, that tours internationally and have been nominated for multiple Canadian Folk Music and Western Canadian Music Awards, including Best Songwriter, Best Roots Group, and Best Vocal Group. He is a former Canadian SLAM poetry champion and World SLAM runner-up. He was the 2012 Poet of Honor at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the 2015 Poet of Honour at the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. He’s taught spoken word at Langara College, and is an active arts educator with a variety of organizations, including: Wordplay, Prologue, and the Vancouver Biennale. He has an MA in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo.
Best Vocal Group, Canadian Folk Music Awards, 2018 (nominee).
Best Songwriter, Western Canada Music Awards, 2018 (nominee).
K.M. Hunter Arts Award finalist, 2017.
K.M. Hunter Arts Award finalist, 2016.
Pick of the Fringe winner, Critic’s Choice Award (nominee), Vancouver Fringe Festival, 2015.
Best Male Performer, Victoria Fringe Festival, 2015.
Poet of Honour, Victoria Festival of Spoken Word, 2015.
Best Vocal Group, Canadian Folk Music Awards, 2014 (nominee).
Best Roots album (duo or group), Western Canadian Music Award, 2014 (nominee).
Poet of Honour, Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, 2012.
Canada Writes (Shortlist), Creative Non-fiction, 2012.
Re: Lit Award for The Convictions of Leonard McKinley, 2008 (nominee).
Canadian Folk Music Award, Pushing the Boundaries, 2007 (nominee).
Winner of the International 3 Day Novel Contest for The Convictions of Leonard McKinley, 2006.
World SLAM Poetry Championships (runner-up), 2005.
Vancouver Individual SLAM poetry champion, 2005.
Individual SLAM poetry champion, Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, 2004.
Team SLAM poetry champion (Vancouver), Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, 2004.
Long (Winded) Bio
Brendan began his spoken word career as a SLAM poet, winning the Canadian SLAM championship in 2004 and runner-up at the 2005 World SLAM poetry championships. Shortly afterwards, he stopped competing in this format in order to broaden his literary and performance work. His first novel, The Convictions of Leonard McKinley (Arsenal Pulp), was published soon after, and was nominated for the Re: Lit award for fiction. In 2007 his band, The Fugitives, released their first album, In Streetlight Communion, which was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the “Pushing the Boundaries” category. The same year, the group released The Face of Impurity, a one hour three person spoken word piece which toured secondary schools across Canada.
From 2007-2010, he toured internationally, promoting two solo spoken word albums, “The Nuns Go Silent” (2008) and “Little Troubles, Live” (2009), as well as The Fugitives album Eccentrically We Love, which was distributed by Universal Music. Performance highlights from this time include the Dylan Thomas Literary Festival (UK), the Folkestone Literature Festival (UK), the Edmonton Poetry Festival, the Calgary Spoken Word Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and multiple appearances at the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival. In 2009, his first play, The Big Oops, debuted at Vancouver’s East Cultural Centre and toured across Western Canada.
In 2011-2012, he wrote and toured his first monologue, The Fruit Machine, across Canada, excerpts of which were featured multiple times on CBC Radio One. The next year, The Fugitives were signed to Light Organ Records, and toured their new album, Everything Will Happen, across Western Canada supporting Buffy Sainte-Marie. They re-released the album in Europe and the UK in the summer of 2014, and toured through five countries, including a performance at Glastonbury Festival. The album was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award for “Best Roots Album” and a Canadian Folk Music Award for “Best Vocal Group”.
In 2015, he wrote and began performing his second monologue, Brain. It sold out its first sixteen shows in BC and won “Best Male Performer” at the Victoria Fringe Festival. It also won the Pick of the Fringe Award at the Vancouver Fringe, and was nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award. It returned to BC the next fall, selling out shows at the Chan Centre (Vancouver), the Port Theatre (Nanaimo), and the Metro Theatre (Victoria). In 2017, he premiered a new show with classical pianist Sarah Hagen, No Country, with intersperses his poems and stories with the 13 preludes of Rachmaninoff’s Opus 32.
Brendan is a active youth arts educator. He’s served as a writer in residence at dozens of secondary schools across Canada, the US, and Europe, and taught a spoken word class, which he created, at Langara College for two years. He currently works as an arts educator teaching storytelling, performance poetry, and songwriting through a variety of organizations, including Prologue Arts (Toronto), Vancouver Poetry House, Biennale Foundation (international), and the Alberta Writer’s Guild.