Residents of Edmonton should take note of the 2014 Edmonton Poetry Festival, taking place between April 20 and 27. The festival has grown into an event that provides poetry to thousands of people every year and attracts poets and artists from around the world. Here's a brief guide to what's offered at this year's festival.

Celebrating Poetry and Connecting Verse to Art and Life

The goal of the Edmonton Poetry Festival is to bring verse to the masses by connecting poets with audiences, other art forms, and different facets of life. Both creators and audiences become engaged through readings and events. The festival collaborates with different aspects of Edmonton's poetry scene, including publishers, schools, community organizations, literary groups, and writers' organizations. In order to improve Edmonton's scene, the festival attracts national and international poets and artists, widening the perspective of local poets and audiences.

The Quick Rise of the Edmonton Poetry Festival

The Edmonton Poetry Festival started in 2006 when the former poet laureate Alice Major gathered with members from poetry groups across the city. They formed a committee that organized a successful poetry day at the Victoria School for the Arts. From this first event, the festival has grown, gathering sponsorships to offer more content and programs to people. Executive director Rayanne Doucet was hired in 2012 to take care of the demands of an increasingly popular festival.

Programs and Projects Supported by the Festival

One of the most visible programs run by the Edmonton Poetry Festival is The Poetry Route, a project that connects people to verse on public transit. Thrice a year, four poems are selected for publication on 800 Edmonton Transit System buses, providing riders a chance to escape briefly with poetry. The festival also teaches poetry workshops four times a year, covering different topics and styles of verse. Students and teachers benefit from The Verse Project, a festival programme dedicated to bringing poetry to schools. In 2006, Poets in the School hosted approximately 15 workshops a week, resulting in a total of 3,500 students involved in poetry. Due to growing demand, Poets in the School has been expanded to a year- round project, infusing poetry into the curriculum.

Featured Guests of This Year's Festival

The opening guest of the 2014 Edmonton Poetry Festival will be Joy Marjo, a Native American poet whose main influence is her Muskogee Creek heritage. Her expertise includes oral tradition, social and feminist issues, translations, and building connections to alternative cultures and art forms through poetry. Guests appearing throughout the week are Sandy Pool, Paul Zits, Chris Gilpin, Ahmed Knowmadic, Kimmy Beach, and Mary Pinkoski, Edmonton's current poet laureate. Hugh McMillan, an award-winning Scottish poet, will travel to Edmonton as a guest speaker for a translation workshop and a public lecture. The main theme of 2014 is "Word Bridges," which expresses the idea of building bridges with language. 

Posted by Sarah MacDonald on

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