Barbara Adler – lead presenter, schools liaison, performer in Proud Animal
“Barbara Adler guides her audience with the easy charm of someone who loves what they do.” CBC
“A one-woman dynamo…” Jewish Independent
(Adler) writes smart, funny, and often deeply moving poetry around questions of history, identity, and self-image.” The Georgia Straight
Barbara Adler doesn’t faze easily. In over a decade of touring, she has told stories, performed poetry, and played her accordion all over North America and Europe. She’s appeared in every conceivable variation of folk festival, high school, coffee shop, theater, performing arts conference, hockey rink, bar, night club, living room, elementary school classroom, jail and converted art gallery\church\tattoo-parlor.
Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Barbara first started writing and performing at the Vancouver Poetry Slam. She’s been a Canadian Team Slam Champ, a CBC PGI Laureate and a CBC Poetry Face Off Winner. Her work from this period has appeared in several anthologies and compilation albums, including Mic Check:The Canadian Anthology of Spoken Word, Coastal Tongue and Poetry is Dead. As a commissioned writer, Barbara’s work has been featured at the Gabriola Poetry Festival (Beast Pieces), on Literacy B.C.’s website and teaching materials (Florence), and in the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver International Children’s Festival (In the Time Before). Her latest, ongoing storytelling project, The B.C. Memory Game, collects, creates and shares stories from her travels.
As a founding member of the critically acclaimed folk-poetry band, The Fugitives, Barbara has helped bring spoken word to musical audiences around the world. Since parting ways with the group in 2012, she has continued that work with Fang: “Vancouver’s most famous accordion shout-rock band”. Admittedly Vancouver’s only accordion shout-rock band, Fang combines disastrously energetic word and song mash-ups with an idiosyncratic take on accordion playing meant to make you forget anything Polka has ever done to you. Barbara’s dedication to that cause has also led her to help develop the community outreach programming of the Accordion Noir festival, which includes the wildly popular “Underdog Instrument Grudge Match.”
Many of Barbara’s performances are geared especially to youth. As the schools liaison and lead presenter of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society’s ReachOut Psychosis Concert Tour, Barbara has toured high schools across B.C. since the program’s inception. In 2012, she was honored to work with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on the creation and performance of their annual Youth Concert. “Simmard’s Animal Kingdom” featured Barbara’s original poetry and music, and resulted in her being able to brag that technically, she has appeared as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
As an arts educator, Barbara has performed and presented writing workshops in hundreds of high schools and elementary schools across Canada. She is a long-time member of the Wordplay Poets in Schools Program, and a three-time mentor in the Vancouver East Cultural Center’s IGNITE Spoken Word Intensive program. Barbara has even had the opportunity to share some of her tricks with teachers, in professional development workshops she has led for the Burnaby School District. Her work with Literacy BC has taken her to schools and libraries throughout the province to work with writers of all ages and abilities, including at-risk youth and adult learners. This year, she was selected as one of the artist-mentors in the Vancouver Biennale Big Ideas project, and will be working with students at Cariboo Hill Secondary and Armstrong Elementary to create projects inspired by the international sculpture exhibit.
As the lead presenter of the ReachOut Psychosis presentation (and Proud Animal’s only accordionist) Barbara is thrilled to contribute to the rich mix of education and entertainment that drives the program’s essential message.