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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.




Arianne Jones of Canada’s National Luge Team has just filmed a commercial in support of Helmets for Heroes … while wearing the helmet i designed for her!

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UPDATE: Local media has been excited by our new initiative!:

“Program aims to transform empty office space into creative places”: Calgary Herald

“Calgary businesses to let artists use empty space”: Metro Calgary

“Calgary’s high office vacancy rate could benefit artists in need of space”: CBC Calgary News

“Artists in Workplace”: CBC Calgary Eyeopener [Radio]

“Calgary businesses encouraged to share office space with artists”: Metro Calgary

“Sky-high vacancy rates challenge remaining downtown businesses”: Global TV Calgary

the press release from the Calgary Chamber of Commerce


Participating businesses to date:

Calgary Association of Self Help

Roots2STEM Admin & Creation Space

York Reality (3 locations)

Vintri Technologies

Sandler Training

The Beach



It’s no secret that challenging economic times are yielding a surplus of office / business space in our city. Instead of letting these spaces sit vacant, they instead could be turned into an opportunity to invest in Calgary’s cultural future that also offsets some expenses at the same time.

The Calgary Chamber in partnership with Calgary Arts Development and Calgary’s Poet Laureate, Derek Beaulieu, is excited to announce the launch of a new initiative called Artists in the Workplace, a program that connects businesses with a surplus of space with artists and art organizations who are looking for space to work.

Please see below or the full release – For additional comments or to schedule an interview, please contact Scott Crockatt at or 403 681 5529.

derek beaulieu
Calgary Poet Laureate 2014-2016

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As Calgary’s Poet Laureate I’m proud to be a part of a new initiative in partnership with Calgary Reads and their Little Free Library PassportFullSizeRender FullSizeRender[3] project.CRaWDWJUsAA5gOP


Are you a fan of Little Free Libraries? Do you regularly take – or leave – a book at these little wooden houses scattered throughout our neighborhoods?

Now you can become a Well-Traveled Reader and earn a badge of honour!

Visit our Passport Office (at Calgary Reads) and pick up your FREE Passport. Then with family, friends or your special group visit the 14 listed, unique Little Free Libraries (reader citizenship posts!) in Calgary. Use the stamp inside each Little Free Library to stamp your Passport on the corresponding page. Return to the Passport Office with at least 10 stamps in your Passport and receive a custom ‘Well-Traveled Reader’ badge to sew onto your jacket, backpack or cap. This project is an exciting collaboration with Calgary’s poet laureate Derek Beaulieu.


The Little Free Library Passport features my visual poetry on every page — and if you visit the LFL locations around the city you can collect a series of stamps for your passport…


Today I guest lectured David Gissen‘s fantastic graduate-level “Architecture Between Writing and Drawing: Exploring Alphanumerical Representations of Spaces and Environments” graduate seminar at the University of Calgary. 20+ graduate students discussed the architectural implications of text and how innovative poetic methods can inform architectural practice — and students spent some time collaborative architecturally-poetic plans using dry-transfer lettering … Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with such engaged students!

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Arianne Jones, me, Brad Spence and Cassandra

Arianne Jones, me, Brad Spence and Cassandra

When Brad Spence, founder of Helmets for Heroes, competed at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, he was wearing a hand painted helmet by Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman, a young patient at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. During a hospital visit a few months prior, Brad had learned of Gillian’s incredible artistic talents and wanted to bring her on his journey to Sochi. He did so by having her design and paint his Olympic helmet.

Seeing the impact that his helmet had not only on her, but also on the entire community, Brad wanted to find a way to bring the athletic and artistic worlds together, to support and help children battling adversity cope and heal. What evolved was Helmets for Heroes, an initiative aimed at doing just this. For each project, an athlete, an artist, and a child battling adversity are connected to collaborate on a helmet design that will be worn in competition by the athlete. Art not only helps children battling adversity express themselves, it improves their mood, decreases pain levels, and assists in the healing process. After completion of the projects, the helmets are auctioned off, with proceeds being donated to the charity of the child’s choice. To date, Helmets for Heroes has facilitated five very unique projects, raising more than $15,000 for charity.

I’m proud to announce that I’m working with Arianne Jones and her teammates on the Canadian National Luge Team, alongside Cassandra (age 11) to design Arianne a helmet that she can use at the World Cup and in competition through-out 2015-2016!

Watch this space for updates and news … and support Helmets for Heroes!

This spring I am scheduled to teach an extended studies credit course at Alberta College of Art + Design:  ENGL217: Introduction to Narrative ENGL217 is dedicated to the exploration of the potential of found and crafted narrative – how narrative and story emerges from alternate media, is crafted by the the reader and how it can be a physical, graphic process-based activity. Students will create assignments in dialogue with Jonathan Ball’s Ex Machina, Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths, Kate Briggs’ The Nabokov Paper, Sophie Calle’s The Address Book and Tom Phillip’s A Humument. The course is designed to push boundaries and explore the edges of the map and will include public-space work, discussions around the possibility of chose-your-own-adventures, digital text generation and embedded literature. extn_calendar_ss_15_Page_34 ENROLL TODAY!

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!

Calgary ArtsCommon’s Stephen Magazine has just published my reflections on being the first artist-in-residence in the Lightbox Studio. Pick up a free copy today!

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