Edmonton Poetry Festival 2010

Cadence Weapon, The Joe amongst the praised wordsmiths who'll light up this year's POfest

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

OUR city is entering its festival season and there's no shortage of things to do during the spring and summer months. We hear a lot about the Fringe, Street Performers, A Taste of Edmonton, and the world-class Folk Fest, but we have to keep our ears to the ground when it comes to one of the dozens of neglected events that share this season.

One of those lesser known affairs is the fifth annual Edmonton Poetry Festival (EPF), which kicks off tomorrow (Monday, April 19), right in the middle of National Poetry Month. This year's theme is "Found in Translation."

Every year the EPF (est. 2006) sets out to celebrate and promote the capital region's eclectic and ever-growing poetry scene. There will be dozens of local and national poets who will take part in the 7-day fest, including Ian Ferrier, Joe Gurba (a.k.a. "The Joe"), Lorri Nielsen Glenn, Robert Kroetsch, Mitch Holtby, Titilope Sonuga, and Edmonton's own Poet Laureate Cadence Weapon (pictured below).

The festival will commence with Monday's "Blinks in the Belly" (7:00-10:30PM), where about 80 poets will have 30 seconds to impress the audience over at The Artery (9535-Jasper Ave.). Anyone who exceeds their time limit will be subject to the ringing of bells, the blows of whistles and possibly some heckling. Seating is limited for the showcase, so arrive early.

Tuesday night (April 20) will offer up "Girls Night Out" at Audrey's Books (10702-Jasper Ave.) from 7:00-10:00PM, featuring Su Croll, Ariel Gordon, and Tracy Hamon. Tuesday will also include the "Last Chance Poetry Slam" (8:00-11:00PM) at the Rouge Poetry Lounge (10111-117 St.).

The Faculty Club at the U of A (11435-Saskatchewan Drive) will host "Literary Cocktails" (4:00-6:00PM) with Kroetsch, Alice Major, and Rob McLennan, as well as the "Talonbooks Launch Party" (7:30-9:30PM) at The Artery, and "Poetry in the Spirit" (7:00-9:00PM) at Audrey's (with Glenn).

George Bowering will be featured during a brief "Book Chat" (12:00-12:45PM) at the CBC Center Stage (City Center Mall) the following Thursday (April 22), which will also see "Poetry Central" (11:30AM-1:30PM) at the Stanley A. Milner Library, "Writer's Guild Poetry Award Shortlist" (7:00-9:00PM) at Audrey's, and "Poetry Slam Finals" (8:00-11:00PM) at The Artery.

"Poetry Central" (11:30AM-1:30PM) and "Book Chat" (12:00-12:45PM) return for Friday, April 23, the latter of which featuring Don McKay. That evening will include "Hip Hop Heart.Beat" (8:00-11:00PM) at The Artery ($10), featuring Cadence, The Joe, Politic Live, A.O.K., mikey maybe, mitchmatic, and newcomer Dakwon Lee. From 8:00-9:30PM "Words & Music with Ian Ferrier" hits up Campus Saint-Jean (8406-91 St.), and the Latitude 53 Gallery (10248-106 St.) will host "See This, Hear Me: Visual Poetry" from 7:30-9:00PM.

The EPF gets Saturday, April 24 started early with "Workshop: Performing Your Words" (9:30AM-4:00PM) at Faculty Saint-Jean, and continues with "Sound Poetry Workshop" (10:00AM-Noon) at the Stanley A. Milner Library, "Poetry Central" (11:30AM-1:30PM) at the Library, "Found in Translation: A Sharing" (1:00-2:15PM) at the Library, "Try Your Tongue at Translation" (2:30-4:30PM) at the Library, "The Poetry Sweatshop" (3:00-5:00PM) at The Artery, and "Findings: The Poetry Party" (8:00-11:00PM) at The Artery.

Seating is limited for the latter event, a gala that invites you to check out "the quiet lyricism of Don McKay, the pop-camp-contemporary of Kimmy Beach, the London-edged performance of Valerie Mason-John and Ian Ferrier's jazz poetry." The winner of the slam poetry competition will also appear. Admission is $10.

On the final day (Sunday, April 25) of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, the Library is home to "Poetry Central" (11:30AM-1:30PM) and "Writers Corner at the Library" (1:00-2:30PM), while various downtown cafès will house more than 100 poets for "The Cafè Readings" (1:30-4:30PM). The fest wraps up with "HERMEN Event" (7:30-9:30PM) at the Leva Cappuccino Bar (11053-86 Ave.).

"Since 2008, HERMEN has been dedicated to the creation and promotion of experimental literature within the Edmonton arts community," reads the EPF website. "But never before have they hosted a reading event exclusively devoted to the exploration of the multitudinous ways in which hermeneutic practices inform our everyday lives. Be part of history! Be part of this reading!"

Admission is free for the star-studded "HERMEN" event, featuring Rebecca Fredrickson, Jeff Carpenter, and others.

Two days later, on Tuesday, April 27, ten authors will launch their new books at "Dektet Launch (Frantenac House)," which will take place from 7:00-10:00PM at the Library. For more information on this event or any of the other scheduled EPF events, you can check out their official website, or click on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Below is a video featuring Mayor Stephen Mandel introducing Edmonton's current Poet Laureate, Cadence Weapon, to City Council in October 2009. This was Cadence's first official piece as Laureate, titled "Critical Mass."

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