Chimera (ki-MEER-uh) n. 1. A fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon or serpent. 2. A creation of the imagination, especially a wild creation.

The Kymeras are storytellers Marie Bilodeau and Ruthanne Edward, spoken word artist Sean Zio and poet Kathryn Hunt. The Kymeras were formed in January of 2008 with two main purposes: to foster collaboration between storytellers and spoken word artists and to celebrate and mark the changing of the seasons. ‘Fireborn’ was their first show, and the Kymeras marked the spring equinox on March 21 with stories and poetry of rebirth and renewal. Since then, they have produced four shows a year – ‘Fireborn,’ ‘Earthborn,’ ‘Windborn’ and ‘Iceborn,’ timed to coincide with the equinoxes and the solstices. Having expanded their shows beyond the four seasonal events, the Kymeras have been developing a devoted following.

Their shows are built around themes to which each performer brings a unique perspective. Ruthanne chooses to expose listeners to a traditional storytelling approach with folktales and historical stories. Marie takes a more contemporary approach with original stories and updates of traditional material. Kathryn straddles the literary and performance poetry worlds and often works with more literary poetic forms, while Sean prefers long and free form narrative styles.
The Kymeras are unique in the Canadian storytelling and spoken word scenes. While there are a small handful of performers like d’bi.young and Itah Sadu who identify as both storytellers and spoken word artists, there is a lack of permanent groups devoted specifically to collaboration between the genres. Storytelling and spoken word are closely related, yet a large gap exists between them. A look at the lineups of festivals, showcases and other events reveals that there is almost no crossover of artists. The Kymeras are working to change that. Audiences who might come out to a Kymeras show for the poetry hear storytelling, and vice versa.

To further bridge that gap, the Kymeras have explored tandem storytelling, spoken word team pieces and pieces that integrate story and poetry. At Windborn 2009, they told the story of the Acadian Expulsion using several different poetry and storytelling forms and styles, all blended into a seamless set. They strive to create shows where the chosen theme is explored using the stories and poems to support each other and deepen the examination of the theme.

In addition to their own series, the Kymeras have been invited to perform at storytelling and spoken word events throughout Eastern Ontario. They have featured at the New Stalgica series, charity fundraisers, and book launches. Recent shows include the Spoken Word Plot in Almonte, ON, Chinatown Remix Art Festival, the CanCon Sci-Fi convention, a coffee house appearance in Alexandria, ON and the Ottawa Storytellers Fourth Stage series at the National Arts Centre where they performed their full-length show The Warrior Queen: Chasing Boudicca.