Calgary’s Inaugural Peoples Poetry Festival
When Laurie Fuhr of filling Station Magazine introduced me to Neshali Weera I had no idea that my desire to celebrate community and poetry would lead me to help coordinate and host the most engaging poetry festival that this city has ever known. I soon met with a group of amazing volunteers whose dedication would lead to a three day festival of poetry readings, panel discussions, magazine presentations, writing stations and workshops. The breadth of the festival defied all expectations. Anyone who helped to plan the festival will tell you that it took a lot of work, but that it was definitely worth the effort. The writing and art of the PPF stand as a testament to the beauty, enthusiasm and energy of the people involved and I am glad to have taken part.
Once the festival secured its support from the City of Calgary and the Kensington Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), it was relatively easy to get local businesses to contribute to the People's Poetry Festival. Pages Books in Kensington, the Sunnyside Market, the Roasterie and the Oolong Tea House were happy to join our celebration of poetry in the community. We not only designed the upcoming People's Poetry Festival' to showcase the poetry of local artists, but we also wanted to demonstrate that anyone can write poetry. This was the unofficial mandate of the 'Do It Yourself Verse' booths around Kensington. In addition to the poetry crafts outside Market Collective and the public readings outside of The Plaza, we also coordinated all sorts of different poetry stations around Kensington: the reading station, the typewriting station, the haiku tree and the journal station. Each of these stations offers a unique experience of poetry and writing.
For the reading station, a comfy reading area on the sidewalk let people pick a good book, sit on a comfy couch and read poetry in the shade. For the journal station, we set up an area outside of Higher Ground where, by writing an anonymous journal entry, people contributed to a kind of "Kensington diary". But probably the most tactile and technical of the 'Do It Yourself Booths' was the haiku tree and the typewriter station. Outside of the Roasterie, any passer-by could write a haiku and add it to the tree; they could also explore the (almost archaic) typewriters nearby and contribute to the pages upon pages of people's type writing. Combined with all of the festival's events, the 'Do It Yourself Booths' successfully included the community in the writing of poetry. The People's Poetry Festival not only gives poetry to the people but through our interactive stations we also made poetry part of the community and facilitated poetry that is truly written by the people.
Calgary’s Inaugural Peoples Poetry Festival’s (2nd book of cowtown poetry ) 128 page, Black and White photo-washed perfect bound poetry collection can be purchased at
Pages Book 1135 Kensington Road
Canada, T2N 3P4
Phone # (403) 283-6655
Fax # (403) 283-6676
Shelf Life Books 100, 1302 - 4th Street SW
Thanks to Filling Station Magazine for introducing Melange Restaurant & Gastro Lounge, a new Calgary venue 644 6 Ave SW Calgary, AB T2P
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