Archives for posts with tag: calgary poet laureate

PoetLaureateLogoOn April 28th 2014 I was named Calgary’s Poet Laureate (following in the footsteps of Kris Demeanor).

On Monday April 25th 2016 I will hand that position over to the 2016-2018 Poet Laureate.

With the amazing support of Emiko Muraki, Christine Armstrong, Joni Carroll, Helen Moore-Parkhouse, Kaley Beisiegel, Pattti Pon and all the amazing folks at CADA I have used the last two years to perform, discuss and advocate for Calgary’s poetic community, promote literacy in the city and initiate new programs to support Calgarian arts.

Here’s a quick review of what i’ve been up as Poet Laureate:

I have conducted 77 readings (alongside almost 100 meetings & over 40 media appearances) in 5 countries — including talks at The University of Calgary, University of Alberta, York University, William Aberhart High School, Queen Elizabeth High School, Mount Royal University, Brock University, Lakehead University and Roehampton University and at public events in Lethbridge, Manchester, London, Oslo, Stockholm and Calgary. I was honoured to give keynote lectures at the Oslopoesifilmfestival (Oslo, Norway) and New Voices, Emerging Paths in Contemporary Canadian Writings (Canadian Literature Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB) and the convocation address at Alberta College of Art + Design.11221301_10153288031866346_3824064715146837533_n


1-15-2016 - WHERE NEXT- Poster FINAL SHMy students and colleagues recognized and awarded my teaching with the Alberta College of Art + Design Student Association Appreciation Award, two Alberta College of Art + Design Student Association Gracious Gratitude Awards and the inaugural Robert Kroetsch Teaching Innovation Award from the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP). I was thrilled to share with students at Mount Royal, ACAD and at Wordsworth Teen Summer Camp. At ACAD I co-ordinated and hosted The WHERE NEXT: CREATIVE WRITING, NARRATIVE, FILM AND CONTEMPORARY ART symposium.

i’ve been lucky to have work published dozens of magazines, journals and books in Canada, the US, the UK, Germany, Turkey, Norway, Sweden and France and work included in gallery exhibitions in Canada, Austria, Georgia, Germany, the Netherlands, England and the US. I co-curated, with Phillip Davenport, Total Recall, at the Bury Art Museum (Bury, UK). I also donated artwork to fundraising auctions for both HIV Calgary and The Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre (KOAC).

I have created hundreds of new works and am particularly proud of the poem i wrote as a commission for the Vimy Foundation in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge in 2017.

photoI was the first artist-in-residence in the Lightbox Studio in Calgary’s Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts (now Arts Commons) — thank you Natasha Jensen for all the organizational acumen. I was the first artist-in-residence in Calgary’s Lougheed House’s 124-year history. The residency culminated with a gala reading featuring Calgary literati.

Calgary Tower WordFest 01My work was  projected on the side of the Calgary Tower and posted on billboards on Calgary’s busiest freeways thanks to the initiatives of Calgary’s Wordfest.

Los Angeles-based press Les Figues published my latest volume of visual poetry, KERN, and the Manchester-based press If P then Q published my latest volume of criticism, The Unbearable Contact with poets, and for that i am incredibly grateful. The Calgary Renaissance, an anthology of risk-taking Calgarian poetry — co-edited with Ottawa’s rob mclennan — is forthcoming in 2016 (as are several other projects which i can’t announce quite yet).

WordPoweredArt-2014_instagramThrough No press I published 64 different editions of poetry and prose from international, national and local emerging and established writers. Each book was meant to help spread the word of risk-taking international writing. Thank you for trusting me with your work.

In December, 2014 I traveled to London with my family in order to defend my Phd dissertation in Creative Writing at Roehampton University under the supervision of Dr. Peter Jaeger and Mr. Jeff Hilson — both of whom have been exceptional teachers and mentors.

On May 11th of this year I will be named as the recipient of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts 1st Celebrated Alumni Award.

As Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I co-founded, with Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Chamber, the Artists in the Workplace initiative through which we pair businesses who are willing to donate studio and production space to Calgary’s artistic community.

In support of Helmets for Heroes, I designed Canadian National Luge Team athlete Arianne Jones’ helmetwhich she wore in gold-medal performances at the World Cup. The helmet will be auctioned for charity in mid-2016.

IMG_1793In conjunction with Calgary Reads, i provided the artwork for their new Little Free Library Passport supporting Calgarian literacy.

My work at Roehampton University — directly on the walls of the English department was the first UK public commission ever received by a Canadian poet.

I initiated the Twitter project The Calgary Alphabet in which i invited the citizens of Calgary to help create an alphabet of letters which reflect the city’s signage. I also created the #writtenrighthere initiative on twitter and, with Barrie, Ontario’s Poet Laureate Damian Lopes, created a National Poetry month challenge across Canada.

I worked with a fabulous team at Project Bookmark to try and make head-way in to Calgary’s community;

coverNot all of the projects i’ve undertaken worked out however. 2015 did bring some disappointing news. For my entire tenure as Poet Laureate I have been working with the Calgary Arts Development team and with representatives from the City of Calgary to create an initiative through which we would name Calgary alleys after prominent deceased Calgarian writers. With support from arts groups across Alberta, the Varsity Community Association and the Beltline Community Association (and many others) we proposed to name streets and pathways in the city after Nellie McClung and Robert Kroetsch (with expansion plans for further alleys named after W.O. Mitchell and Sheila Watson). Sadly –- despite wide-spread support from the community (and private funds to cover all potential expenses) and the City of Calgary Naming Committee –- the City of Calgary Priorities and Finance Committee did not share our enthusiasm. This was a project we’ve been deeply dedicated to for a number of years and it was crushing to see it not receive support. We may regroup …

None of this would have been possible without my incredible partner, Kristen, and my amazing daughter Maddie. My parents and in-laws have also been a steady voice of support and love; thank you.

1509803_10152809613381526_2794485390422773802_nIn so many ways I only excel because of the strength and support of my community of friends and colleagues especially Christian Bök, Sina Queyras, Darren Wershler, Kenneth Goldsmith, Ken Hunt, Tony Trehy, Jordan Scott, Greg Betts, Lori Emerson, Kit Dobson, Helen Hajnoczky, Richard Harrison and so many others. Thank you.

I’m by no means done and the opportunity to be Poet Laureate has already lead to a number of new projects and potential collaborations — I’m excited to see how these ideas will challenge both me and the arts community.

It has been an honour, thank you — I look forward to seeing what Calgary’s next Poet Laureate does with the position.

PoetLaureateLogo To celebrate National Poetry Month and UNESCO World Poetry Day, 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 our largest yet—but we hope for even more in 2016!

As Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I have a challenge for writers and readers across Canada.

I ask that writers and readers across Canada explore how literature has reflected and created their own communities … find spaces of literary importance (homes where writers once lived, areas authors have written about, moments of historic literary import, etc), photograph those spaces and post on twitter with a brief description and the hashtag #writtenrighthere

Check out the writtenrighthere blog!

Help document how Canadian literature reflects and affects how we understand our communities and our place.

It could be an intersection or park named in a book, it could be a mountain range celebrated in a poem, it could be the former home of a beloved poet or the location of a Canadian press; it could be a park named after your favourite literary figure or a surprising connection with how Canadian literature has developed just down the street …

How have the spaces of your community shaped (or been shaped by) literature? Where do you see the spaces that have created Canadian Literature in your community?

#writtenrighthere celebrates literary history … and how writing comes from community.




The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts has just published a special Alumni Connections magazine. I’m thrilled to appear on the cover and have a 2-page article inside…cover  u magazine 1u magazine 2

The Mayor's proclamation of National Poetry Month

The Mayor’s proclamation of National Poetry Month


Calgary Mayor Naheed nenshi reading Richard Harrison's 'Ode to the Saddledome" under an excerpt of my visual poetry suite "Every word"

Calgary Mayor Naheed nenshi reading Richard Harrison’s ‘Ode to the Saddledome” under an excerpt of my visual poetry suite “Every word”

"Every word" framed at Calgary's city hall

“Every word” framed at Calgary’s city hall

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The amazing folks at  Calgary Arts Development (CADA)

The amazing folks at Calgary Arts Development (CADA)

As Calgary’s Poet Laureate I was honoured to read an excerpt from Robert Kroetsch’s Seed Catalogue in Council Chambers on March 30, 2015. I also challenged members City Council to find and tweet images, phrases and fragments that they find poetic, using the hashtag #yycpoet. 

My visual piece “Every word” alphabetically compiles all the keywords submitted by attendees of the Mayor’s Luncheon. I rubber-stamped, by hand, every word from “Aboriginal” to “Volunteer” gathering the very words that our arts community identified as best representing the arts in Calgary. These are your words, placed into a visual choir of artistic support, a suite of images that turn each letter into an artistic moment. This suite will be on display here at city hall for the week – please take a chance to see what your community has identified as the strengths and calgarian arts.


Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi recently proclaimed April as National Poetry Month, and Calgary is celebrating and recognizing poets, writers and libraries for their contributions to the identity and quality of life in our communities.

Earlier this year, Mayor Nenshi issued the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge, encouraging mayors across Canada to have a local poet read a poem at the start of a Council meeting in March or April. The aim is to raise awareness and to celebrate poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers to the rich cultural life in our country.

Thanks to the League of Canadian Poets, Dymphny Dronyk, the Poet Laureate sponsors and Calgary Arts Development for a great morning!

Lougheed-House-Spring-Newsletter-2015_Page_3I’m proud to announce that I will be the first artist-in-residence in the 124-year history of Calgary’s Lougheed House.

Built in 1891 for James and Isabella Lougheed and their growing family, Lougheed House is now a National and Provincial Historic Site and Museum located on its original 2.8 acres in the Beltline of Calgary.


LLAs Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I’m pleased as penguins to be hosting performances by Larissa Lai and Sarah Kelly!

Larissa Lai is the author of two novels (Salt Fish Girl and When Fox Is a Thousand), one book of poetry (Automaton Biographies) and co-author, with Rita Wong, of Sybil Unrest. Her most recent book is Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s (Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2014). She has recently returned to Calgary and is the new Tier 2 Canadian Research Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.

Sarah Kelly’s one-woman band Tigerwing blends the human voice with technology to wind its way through the listener. She recently performed at Sled Island and is awesome.


(free admission, donations welcome)

August 27, 7pm

LOFT 112

#112, 535 8 Ave SE

Calgary, Alberta

88_1ROMANESCOAs Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I’m happy as pie to host an evening of sound poetry and experimentation by Christian Bok and Ian Sampson!

Ian Sampson, briefly back in Calgary, is a PhD candidate at Brown University. He is currently working on a radical translation of Beowulf and is an amazing performer of jaw-dropping sound poetry and beatboxing. Damn.

Christian Bok is the author of Eunoia and Crystallography and a seriously scary manuscript-in-progress entitled “The Xenotext.” His sound poetry and performance is seriously atomic. Double Damn.


(free admission, please buy a book)

August 22, 7pm

Pages Books on Kensington

1135 Kensington Rd NW

Calgary, Alberta

HHAs Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I’m pleased as potatoes to be hosting a reading by Helen Hajnoczky and Victoria Braun!

Helen Hajnoczky is the author of Poets & Killers (Snare Books). Currently living in Montreal, she is back in Calgary for just a short period. Helen Hajnoczky holds a BA(Hon) from the University of Calgary, where her research focused on contemporary feminist avant-garde poetics as well as an MA and an MLIS, both from McGill. Her work has appeared in filling Station, Matrix, NoD, Rampike, and Speechless magazines, as well as in a variety of chapbooks. She has served as assistant editor of NoD magazine, as poetry editor of filling Station magazine, and has been a weekly contributor to the literary blog Lemon Hound. Hajnoczky blogs at:

Victoria Braun is the author of ‪#‎girlproblems‬ (89+/LUMA foundation) and a small leaflet from No press. Braun’s work navigates the private/public dichotomy, concerned with the relationship between the personal and political. Using personal experience and social media, Braun researches the social climate of her generation, gathering information regarding gender dynamics and intimacy. Braun is currently finishing her BFA at the Alberta College of Art and Design. #girlproblems can be found online here:


(free admission, donations welcome)

August 6, 7pm

LOFT 112

#112, 535 8 Ave SE

Calgary, Alberta