The Edmonton Poetry Festival

The Poetry Route Glides Into Winter

New winter-themed poetry can be found on Edmonton Transit buses! The latest round of bus poems features work from Edmonton-area students and will be displayed in ETS buses and LRT cars through mid-March. Details here →

Winter Scene

Festival News

One Week to Go

April 14, 2014

Word Bridges

Actually, one week less a day. The Edmonton Poetry Festival begins on Sunday April 20, 2014 with a killer event featuring New Mexican poet and musician, Joy Harjo. There are still a few tickets left for that, and it promises to be a great kickoff to the festival. April 20 is Easter Sunday of course, but don’t let the Easter Bunny prevent your enjoyment of the poetic season. In fact, one should never trust or give quarter to the Easter Bunny. A rabbit imbued with mythical, possibly nefarious special powers? Suspect.

Monday to Friday during the festival, you can check out “Poetry Central” in Churchill Square. You can get information about the festival, pick up a program, and do a bunch of other cool things like make a poem with our word blocks (so cool!). Poetry Central is open daily in Churchill Square, Monday April 21 to Friday April 25.

If you haven’t already, you should have a look at our schedule and map out your week. Will you Blink on Monday, Slam on Tuesday, and Laugh on Wednesday? Or will you brush up on your Fran├žais on Thursday, get Red and aroused on Friday, and take in the whole day of festivities on Saturday? And will you still have the jam for the Cafe Readings on Sunday?

Yes. Yes to everything. Yes to saying yes. Yes to breaking out of your little world. Yes to not being so earnest. Yes to wearing red and not diverting your eyes. Yes to bridges of words – thin and strong and temporary. Yes to continuance and grace. Yes to mystery and leaving. Yes to one week a year – a single week! – devoted to the best of language. Yes to moving to the edges of your musts. Yes to throwing away that love note again and again.

Join us on the streets and in the halls. We need your ears and your words.


April 08, 2014

You’ve been more tired than usual lately. You go to bed earlier and wake up with heavier eyes. This, mere days after your birthday. Today you forgo the usual ground beans and reach for some loose tea – chamomile and rooibos – that came highly recommended by the woman at the shop. “Pleasing,” she said, “with relaxing notes.” Relaxing notes. You’ve been one long-held limp note lately. The other day, you read a dozen articles and forgot them by evening. Your memory is roused in conversation. Someone will say something and you remember reading something about that topic at some point. Threads, covered in beads, buried under your t-shirts.

Things are like they used to be, except when they aren’t. New aches. New constraints. “They make clothes smaller these days”, your father used to say. You think of him when your mug is to your mouth in the wee hours, when the frost has yet to leave your windshield. The apple tree needs pruning, and you will seek counsel for that. The grass is piss-spring yellow. That tattered section of walkway needs new concrete. With tea on your lips, you think of the bearded hide-tanner in Nova Scotia who made your wallet. The phantom relief of your credit cards is smooth to the touch, and shiny. That was eight years ago. Dad liked leather stuff, too.

Soon, it will be time for yard bags and gasoline for the lawn mower. You’ll put on those old work gloves and smell last year’s labour. You’ll slide on your boots and trundle to the raised beds. You’ll haul compost next week – yes, it may be a bit early, but lettuce waits for no one – and get everything ready. You ordered your seeds a month ago and they sit patiently on your dresser. Last week you saw a set of shears you liked. Maybe you should buy them. Perhaps it is safe to uncover the barbecue.

April removes her sandals from winter hock and places them on your front step. The sun, for too long your sole winter light, stays longer. Your snow shovel bows politely and says, “Don’t get up. I’ll let myself out.” Deadfall and rubble taunt – you should listen to them, and do something. Time to remove the wool and flannel. Wipe the table. Clear your throat. Don your warm-weather frock. Warm your books and mark your pages. Begin.

Call for Volunteers 2014

March 21, 2014

It’s been too long since you’ve been vulnerable. Rushing, fretting, working, taxiing. In all this business, It’s easy to forget the feelings you need. In every task or to-do, you wonder what your real job is. Not in the narrow sense – “should I be an artist, or a soldier?” – but in the widest sense. You ponder and mull, and decide that it comes down to this: everything is just humans affecting the perceptions and feelings of other humans. How will other people feel about this? That question is now the first one you ask when doing anything, and you realize it’s the only one that matters. There’s a secret place lodged somewhere between ability and humility. Most call it empathy. Those that deny it exists may claim to make art for themselves, and that rings false to you now. Some never buy a hobo a beer. Some pay lip service to giving. Some talk much and do little. Not you. Not any more.


In order to function, The Edmonton Poetry Festival requires volunteers. We need your help at our events (you have checked the schedule haven’t you?). You won’t believe how much work it is to keep this wonderful poetic machine going. Do you have the wherewithal, the jam, the love we need to keep the rocks rolling? If so, we want to hear from you. Click the button below to sign up as a volunteer.

Sign up to volunteer →

See you out there in the fields.

New Bus Poems are Flying

February 08, 2014

Edmonton Bus

You kick a small piece of snow with your toe as you look at the bus floor. You’re trying hard to not stare at the man in the seat across from you. He’s well-dressed in a wool overcoat, deerskin gloves, cashmere scarf, and expensive shoes. He occasionally takes a sip from his white cup and looks up from his magazine, but he never looks directly at you or anyone else. He seems undisturbed by this weather, like he is comfortable with everything the world will throw at him. The other riders shimmy and shift in their parkas and snow boots, silently cursing the snow, the cold, and the tardy busses. The man sways with the bus, his shoulder sometimes brushing the ski jacket of the woman next to him. You like the sound of that exchange. Slips his empty cup in a coat pocket and dons his gloves. A block later he pulls the cord and rises. Thanks the driver as he steps off the platform, turns his collar up slightly. Snow falls onto his greying hair and you wonder where one might procure such a fine pair of shoes.

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The latest series of bus poems are now making the rounds on Edmonton Transit busses! This round consists of poems chosen for the 40 Below Anthology. Authors include Danielle Metcalf-Chenail, Jannie Edwards, Anna Mioduchowska, Diana S. Adams, Brad Kennedy, and John Leppard. You can read the poems here, if you’re so inclined. Read them! They’re awesome. And next time you’re on an Edmonton Transit vehicle, look up!

Thanks to all who contributed to the project. You’ve made winter in E-Town a bit more bearable.

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