David James Brock

Theatre, Opera, Poetry, Film

David James Brock is a Canadian writer of opera, theatre, poetry, and film.
Author of poetry collections Everyone is CO2 and Ten-Headed Alien.
Co-creator of Breath Cycle, an opera for cystic fibrosis.


Preview/Interview by Jennifer Parr of the WholeNote Magazine (Spring 2019)
"Unique to Pandora’s creation for me was that dance was much more up front for me than it has ever been, and it really does inspire much of the text (and subsequently the scores). I knew Jennifer Nichols was going to be a part of this, both as choreographer and dancer, so I wrote very much with her in mind. Jennifer truly understands and cares about the words, and in writing something I knew she’d be a part of, I tried to create Pandora’s dramatic beats so that they’d demand (and in some cases, restrict) movement."

Review from Normand Babin of Neomemoire (Spring 2019)
"All along, Pandora is poetic and evanescent…there is no choice to embark in the story, no choice to feel the intensity of what is happening on stage. Rare phenomenon in the life of a spectator, we had the feeling we were part of the work." 

Review from Leslie Ashworth of Schmopera (Spring 2019)
"…the accompanying ensemble shifting in and out of focus as the libretto by David James Brock both puzzled and engaged the audience."

Review from Keira Grant of Mooney on Theatre (Spring 2019)
"The scenes are not narrative driven and my reaction to the performance was much more visceral than analytical."

Review from John Terauds of the Toronto Star (Spring 2019)
"Is it pretty? Do the blooms smell nice? Would it make a lasting centrepiece for an operatic dinner party? Pandora doesn’t answer a firm yes to any of these questions, but it does have flashes of brilliance."

Ten-Headed Alien

Review from John Nyman for Blue Riband (Summer 2019)
"it’s much less common, i think, to find ourselves thoroughly within a poem’s world, engulfed by it like jonah by the whale (or the Millennium Falcon by that giant space slug from The Empire Strikes Back). but that’s exactly what david james brock’s Ten-Headed Alien does: it swallows you whole. equal parts enviro-existentialism, great sci-fi, ridiculous sci-fi, and acid grunge——brock’s set pieces are variously bleak, invigorating, relatable and bizarre.”

Review from Kim Fahner for Bywords.ca (Fall 2018)
"You feel almost as if you are following him through the book, as if he’s leading you forward, encouraging, but also challenging you to take part. You simply can’t be a bystander when you read this poetry; it engages on many levels, most of which are cerebral at first, but then deeply emotional underneath.”

Review from After the Pause (Summer 2018)
"The collection’s metronome is an intoxicating lava flow, both beautiful and dangerous. For all its extraplanetary language it is also refreshingly gritty..."

Review by Ariel Benyon (Contemporary Verse 2, August 21, 2018)
"This new vehicle for telling doesn’t hamper the mode or the flow; instead, it allows for a greater concentration of varied ideas and ruminations on “human failure, vulnerability and hubris.” For those looking for something off the beaten track, David James Brock’s collection is the perfect springboard for exploration..."


Everyone is CO2

Review by Alisa Gordaneer (As in The Malahat Review, 189, Winter 2014, 85-87)
“Everyone is CO2...journeys through an imagination determined to embrace the vastness of its own potential, trying out various poetic forms, and speaking in a multitude of voices. It can take on the persona of an apocalyptic mother, as in “Mercury,” or an all-knowing commentator who sees through social veneers to the tired truths of contemporary living…”

Review by Michael Dennis (Today's Book of Poetry, September 15, 2014)
"These poems leap from the page directly at your jugular.  That is, of course, only after he has sucker-punched your brain.  This is a master stage director plotting the audience and organizing their gasps... Brock shreds common sense as unnecessary as he rollicks all over the place with Shaman-like wisdom and an encyclopedic memory... I thought Everyone is CO2 was whipsmart stuff from start to end."

Review by Mark Sampson (Free Range Reading, August 8, 2014)
Everyone Is CO2 taps into very specific periods of pop culture... the references here will resonate most with those born in the 1970s and `80s. Yet what comes of all this? An entirely new and fresh existence for these cultural touchstones, infusing them with an agency of their own. This is something that Brock does exceedingly well."

Review by Nico Mara-McKay (This magazine, July 15, 2014)
"The poems in David James Brock's debut collection never rest, ranging in time (1959 through to 2039), place (Toronto, Steubenville, Venus), and subject (pop culture, music, the epic of Gilgamesh). Topics and themes switch a break-neck speed, united only by a sharp eye for dramatic imagery."

Review by William Kemp ((parenthetical), May 21, 2014)
“Seldom have I read, in recent memory, a collection of poetry that is so willing to have fun... Brock’s poetic voice is a much-appreciated, much-welcomed one that is, for the most part, conversational in tone, but still steeped in technique and skill. He shows the reader, without a hint of irony, the strange, quirky beauty in a language often thought of as less refined—and by extension, less beautiful... It’s a great debut from a great poet. Read it.”

Article by Kris Bone (The Town Crier, April 21, 2014)
“An expert combination of smart, snappy phrasing and interesting, offbeat subject matter made his poems exciting to listen to. Brock’s work continues to mutate and evolve, comfortable spanning multiple genres and conceptual divides as he moves into his first full-length publication, with his poetry stronger, stranger, and more fearless than anything we’ve seen from him yet."


Tap Ex: Metallurgy (Toronto, Ontario)

  • Review by John Harris for Tap Ex: Metallurgy as part of Tapestry New Opera's 2015-2016 season (Tap:Ex Metallurgy: Punk and opera collide in adventurous musical, Globe and Mail, November 20, 2015).

  • Review by Jenna Douglas & Greg Finney for Tap Ex: Metallurgy as part of Tapestry New Opera's 2015-2015 season (He said/she said: Tap:Ex Metallurgy, Schmopera, November 20, 2015).

  • Review by Richard Trapunski for Tap Ex: Metallurgy as part of Tapestry New Opera's 2015-2015 season (Punk and opera meet on each other’s turf for TAP:EX Metallurgy, Chart Attack, November 19, 2015).

  • Review by Michael Vincent for Tap Ex: Metallurgy as part of Tapestry New Opera's 2015-2015 season (Tapestry Opera Gets a Punk Rock Twist, Musical Toronto, November 20, 2015).

  • Review by Catherine Kustanczy for Tap Ex: Metallurgy as part of Tapestry New Opera's 2015-2015 season (Playful Punk Opera, Play Anon, November 22, 2015).

Sewing the Earthworm (Recording and Performance)

  • Review by John Gilks for Sewing the Earthworm performed as part of Canadian Art Song Project's 'The Living Spectacle' (The Living Spectacle. Opera Ramblings, November 8, 2015)

  • Review by Jenna Douglas for Sewing the Earthworm performed as part of Canadian Art Song Project's 'The Living Spectacle' (Aptly Named: The Living Spectacle. Schmopera November 7, 2015)

  • Review by Leslie Barcza for Sewing the Earthworm performed as part of Canadian Art Song Project's 'The Living Spectacle' (CASP: The Living Spectacle. Barczablog November 8, 2015)

  • Review by Lydia Perovic for Sewing the Earthworm performed as part of the Canadian Art Song Project's 'The Living Spectacle' (CASP, gasp! Definitely the Opera November 8, 2015)

  • Review by Cecilia Livingston for CMC recording of Sewing the Earthworm (Notations, Summer 2015)

  • Review by John Gilks for the Sewing the Earthworm Canadian Art Song Recital (Canadian Art Song Project Recital, Opera Ramblings, March 2012)

Breath Cycle (Glasgow, Scotland)

"Chopin's Ghost" and "Miss Quickly" in Tapestry New Opera's Songbook (Toronto, Canada)

Cook as part of Theatre Lab's You Can Sleep When You're Dead (Toronto, Canada)

The Sloans Project in the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland)

The Sloans Project in the 2012 Sound Festival, Scotland's Festival of New Music (Aberdeen, Scotland)

UVic 50th Anniversary Prize for Dramatic Monologue

The Sloans Project in the Merchant City Festival (Glasgow, Scotland)

Pub Operas in Tapestry New Opera's 2010-11 Season (Toronto, Canada)

Black Metal Melody (poetry chapbook published by Ferno House)

Wet in the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival (Toronto, Canada)

  • Review of Wet in Mooney On Theatre by George Perry. Jul. 4, 2010.

  • Review of Wet in Eye Weekly by Christopher Hoile. Jul. 2, 2010.