Photo by Marie-Eve Fontaine

Photo by Marie-Eve Fontaine

Background

I began my creative practice at the University of Ottawa, where I studied English and Theatre. These two fields of interest have led me to pursue work in all sorts of small corners of these disciplines. In the theatre, I have been paid to work as a theatre critic, set and lighting designer, carpenter, and dramaturge. In literature, I work as part of the selection committees for several literary publications, and as an editor of work in fields ranging from poetry through academic theses.

Wes Babcock is a poet, theatre artist, and designer.

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 Photo by Jess Emin

Photo by Jess Emin


Story

I decided I wanted to be a writer in high school. I took an unnecessary extra semester, taking courses I thought would be fun while I figured out what I wanted to do with myself in University. That's when I took my first creative writing class.

By the spring, I still hadn't decided what I wanted to take. I went to visit a friend in Montreal, where he was taking the creative writing undergrad program at Concordia. I attended a poetry slam. It was the first time I ever realized that poems were meant to be read aloud. That they could actually mean something without exhaustive study (thanks T.S. Eliot, you're still largely impenetrable). I elected to take English as my degree at the University of Ottawa.

Through university, I mostly wrote essays. But I also began to fall into the black box of the theatre. I built sets, designed lights, did basically a million infinitesimal tasks for all the productions in the department. I thought that I would be a theatre technician to pay the bills, and a writer to make art.

After a year and a half in South America teaching English in which I had virtually no contact with the theatre world, I spent my between-class hours working on my creative writing. When I returned to Canada I didn't go back into the theatre to work. Instead, I helped establish the New Ottawa Critics, where I became their first Managing Editor before departing the organization in 2017. All told, I spent about 5 years without setting foot in a theatre to do anything but watch and write.

Since the summer of 2016, I have transitioned from writing about theatre to writing theatre, and making it happen from behind the scenes again. I no longer write criticism. I write theatre; I design and install theatre set and lighting; I act and study acting.