To celebrate National Poetry Month (April) and UNESCO World Poetry Day (March 21), each year municipalities across Canada are challenged to bring poetry into politics. One mayor leads this annual challenge by inviting a poet to read at a council meeting in March or April, and challenges mayors and councils across the nation to follow suit and join the celebration. Initiated by Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco in 2012, the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge celebrates poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers to the rich cultural life in our country.
Last year the torch was passed from Regina to Calgary, and Mayor Nenshi’s first challenge was a huge success. With over seventy participants, the 2015 challenge was the largest yet—but we hope for even more in 2016!
The following Alberta cities and municipalities have already accepted the challenge. More will be added to this list as they are confirmed:
March 7 – Brooks, AB: The City of Brooks proclaimed World Poetry Day at their last council session on March 7th, during which they also announced their participation in the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge. Visit the City of Brooks’ website at: brooks.ca/index.php.
March 19 – Jasper, AB: The open mic night on Wednesday, March 2 was a great success! Two poets have bee chosen to read in council. Congratulations to John Strugnell and Stephen Nelson! They will each have the chance to deliver a poem to council on March 19. Also at that time, Council will be asked to proclaim March 21st as World Poetry Day and the month of April as National Poetry Month. Details will be posted on the Municipality of Jasper website, at jasper-alberta.com.
March 21 – Spruce Grove, AB: The City of Spruce Grove is proud to announce that Leanne Myggland-Carter will be delivering this year’s poem to city council on the 21st of March. Visit the City of Spruce Grove’s website at: sprucegrove.org.
April 4 – Medicine Hat, AB: The City of Medicine Hat will host readers from the Medicine Hat Rhyme and Reason Writers’ Club. As yet, readers TBA.
April 20 – Edmonton, AB: As part of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, the City of Edmonton will be hosting an event at City Hall, at which the current Poets Laureate of Edmonton (Pierrette Requier and Charlotte Cranston) will deliver poetry alongside Gerald Hill (Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan), Anna Yin (inaugural Poet Laureate of Mississauga, ON) and Cree/Métis poet Marilyn Dumont. Visit the Edmonton Poetry Festival website for full details.
April 25 – Calgary, AB: The City of Calgary will take part in the challenge on April 20, with the help of Poet Laureate derek beaulieu. Derek has also been working with Barrie, ON Poet Laureate damien lopes on the Poet Laureate Challenge (details below).
Grande Prairie, AB: Details coming soon!
Read the full list of participating Canadian cities and find out how you can participate in the Mayor’s #PoetryCity Challenge on the League of Canadian Poets’ website.
Poet Laureate Challenge!
We challenge Canada’s Poets Laureate—the celebrated poets across the nation—to reach out to each other and publish, in a small press edition, a poem by one another that can be distributed in your city’s council chambers.
Lopes and beaulieu challenge Canada’s Poets Laureate to request a poem from one of their fellow Poetry Challenge poets, design and publish a small edition and then graciously distribute that edition to members of their city council during National Poetry month and the Mayor’s Poetry Challenge.
With over 40 years of small press publishing combined, beaulieu and lopes believe that small press publishing is an easy and fun way of distributing poetry—anyone can do it! Any printed and folded page can enclose a poem in a thoughtful, simple means of slowing down the reader with a poetic moment.
These small editions will distribute the nation’s poems to city councillors and put poetry in people’s hands – weaving together the nation’s Poets Laureate into a tapestry of voices celebrated in city chambers across Canada!