For the first time, The Edmonton Poetry Festival features a cafe reading specifically for Edmonton’s youth. Here are the details. The event is hosted by the wonderful and lovely Mary Pinkoski, who does so much for youth and spoken word in this city and elsewhere. All poets are welcome to attend this first-ever event!
See you on the streets today, poets! Have a blast on the final day of the 2013 festival!
OK, yesterday was a whirlwind of events and to break them all down for you blow-blow would be simply too much for a single blog post. Instead, I am going to direct you to connect with us on our Facebook page to get all the latest news and updates. And, more appropriate to this post, you can see Randall Edwards’s amazing photographic documentation of the festival. The pics are truly awesome, and they capture the feel of the events very well. Here’s a taste of what went down yesterday (April 25, 2013), but you should join us on Facebook for the full meal deal.
Aboriginal Stories, CBC @ Noon
This event at CBC was a discussion on being an aboriginal poet in Canada. With Marilyn Dumont, Heather Simeney MacLeod, Janet Rogers, and Edmonton’s preset Poet Laureate, Anna Marie Sewell.
The Play and the Poem
Scotland’s makar, Liz Lochhead, is not only a brilliant and much-loved poet, but also a celebrated playwright. The Play & The Poem had her talking to Kim McCaw, Director of the Canadian Centre for Theatre Creation. A few scenes from her plays were brought to life by Edmonton actors Michael Peng, Elena Porter, and Jamie Cavanagh.
The Great Black North Book Launch
This event was the launch of The Great Black North – Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, published by our friends and colleagues at Frontenac House.
Symbiotica, a presentation of Edmonton’s Words With Friends (yegwords), is a collaborative exhibition of poetry and visual art. The show’s launch was last evening, and it runs until Tuesday April 30th at the Daffodil Gallery. Check it out!
Above photo by Kasia Gawlak.
Above photo by Lamya Asiff.
And if that’s the not enough, we also had French Twist at the Duchess Bakery, AND The Glass Door Coffee House reading down in Millwoods. Awesome! Like I said, don’t be afraid to reach out and touch us on Facebook. That’s where you’ll see all the cool pics and get the latest updates.
The Slam Finals went down last night at the Metro Cinema (formerly known as the Garneau Theatre). This slam, and the elimination slams that led up to last night, were staged by Edmonton’s own Breath in Poetry Collective. The work they have done to increase awareness and awesomeness of spoken word here in Edmonton is enormous. Before BIP, our slam scene was barely there, murmurs only. Today, it is a fully-fledged scene with an international reputation (the Edmonton team took home the top prize in Canada in 2011). The Edmonton Poetry Festival is immensely proud to once again work with the BIP Collective in hosting the Edmonton Slam Finals.
The Slam Finals consist of three rounds: In each round, the finalist poets read one piece each and are scored by five randomly selected audience judges. The high and low scores were discarded, and the winners were those with the highest cumulative scores. The evening was full of amazing words, and the slam competitors did not disappoint. Host Titilope Sonuga kept the night moving and the crazies at bay.
The first round felt like a warmup. The poets seemed a bit nervous, but kicked out some great words nonetheless. And that nervousness was understandable – the Metro Cinema was fairly full. I don’t have official attendance numbers but I’d say the crowd was at least 200 strong. 200 people! That’s awesome!
CR’s performance was marred by poor sound, but he nonetheless blew up the stage with a thrilling micless performance. It was a taste of how amazing and captivating spoken word can be, and it was an inspiration to all the poets in the audience. In CR’s words, “Edmonton brought back the rhyme. It’s like hip hop fell and spoken word caught it.”
The slam then resumed for the ultimate round, and the poets pulled out the big guns. Much to audience delight, risks were taken and hearts were moved. Gizele performed her final piece in French and it was delicious. Arlo pulled out a brave piece on addiction that demanded rumination. Kaz’s meditation on religion was exquisitely voiced – delightful in its wordplay and complex tumble of rhymes. Rhianna held the audience on the verge of tears. Jan won hearts with a loving, honest tribute to his autistic brother.
And with that, the team was decided in beautiful, peaceful, courageous fashion. Here they are, your amazing 2013 Edmonton Slam Team:
Sunday’s events started the festival proper, but last night’s “Bling on the Blinks” event, staged by Edmonton’s Stroll of Poets Society, is the traditional festival opening event and what a time it was. The theme was bling, and many were dressed in their ostentatious finery. There were fake diamonds and tiaras, rhinestone jackets and beaded wigs, and a bit of cross dressing, best displayed by host John Leppard and cohort Gary Garrison.
The human voice is delightful, and when reading poetry, its beauty is second only to song. At the Blinks, sixty poems are delivered in a span of 90 minutes, with a 30-second per reader time limit. If the poet approaches the 30 second mark, “The Blink Philharmonic” goes into action and reminds the reader of their time. Few go over 30 seconds. The beauty of the event lies in the variety of its voices – accents dip and dodge out of earshot, an amazing turn of phrase is slapped around by a dirty lyric, and last night, we heard a variety untouched: Three children reading poetry in public for the first time, a thrilling blink by Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead, a joyous piece by former Edmonton councilor Michael Phair, and a dementedly brilliant blues crunch by longtime favorite Philip Jagger.
Poetry can often seem heavy, even burdensome. Writing it can feel like pushing a stone up a hill, and for some, reading it out loud is akin to jumping off a cliff. The Blinks event is about participation and, not to get all summer camp councilor on you, above all else FUN. You know, having a good time, tying one on, lettin’ ‘er rip, layin’ ‘em to waste? That kind of fun? Does anybody remember laughter?