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How to Celebrate National Poetry Month in Edmonton

by Matthew Stepanic

Contrary to popular belief, poetry is much more than just rhyming words. It can open up a whole new world of understanding that may cause us to shed a tear or two, force us to laugh until our bellies hurt, and teach us things we have never heard before.

If you're interested in sipping wine while you listen to inspiring words, then snaps all around because April is National Poetry Month. There are tons of events and experiences around Edmonton to take in this month for just about any kind of word-lover.

Experience spoken word at Breath in Poetry

April 17 & 24
Have the wind knocked out of you by powerhouse poets at Breath in Poetry (BIP) nights. These aren't your average poetry readings. The talent at BIP is out of this world, from politically charged rants to melodic hip-hop-infused verses, nothing is off the table. You can catch them every Tuesday at The Nook Café, but this month the competition heats up as poets vie for a spot on the Slam Team to represent Edmonton at the Canadian Spoken Word Festival in Guelph, Ontario.

Feel the drama at the world premiere of Pretty Goblins
April 18-29
If you prefer your poetry to come with a dramatic plot, you’ll dig this new play by Governor General’s Award finalist Beth Graham. Pretty Goblins follows the story of estranged fraternal twins on a journey of tragic discovery after one finds a book of poems. Exploring issues such as loss, the chaos of addiction, and the ferocity of sisterly love, this is guaranteed to be a powerful show!

Sip and savour poetry and wine at the Edmonton Poetry Festival

April 22-29
Every year, this celebration of poetry brings together a myriad of interests—including music, visual art, science, and even wine!—and connects the joy of poetry with all of them. This year's schedule brings in some of the biggest names from across the country and includes events like pairing words with wine and celebrating Indigenous poets at “nêhiyawêtân” (which will feature established and emerging Indigenous poets alongside art from Métis artist Amy Malbeuf and many open-mics!).

Drink in some lit with your latté
Is caffeine alone not doing enough for you anymore? Add an extra jolt of energy to your morning latté at one of Edmonton’s local cafés, now serving up coffee sleeves with poetry on them! Created by local writer and publisher Jason Lee Norman, #yegwords coffee sleeves put poetry and prose in unexpected places. Find one of the special sleeves celebrating National Poetry Month and the Edmonton Poetry Festival at participating cafés, including Elm Café, Mandolin Books & Coffee, Lock Stock Coffee, and Coffee Bureau.

Hear from established and emerging poets at the Olive Reading Series

Various dates throughout the year
A home for established and emerging poets, the Olive Reading Series hosts monthly events at The Almanac Gastropub on Whyte Avenue. This month’s featured poets are Marilyn Dumont, award-winning author of A Really Good Brown Girl, and Loic Mulatris, a psychology student originally from Brussels, Belgium. Need more convincing? The Almanac serves half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesdays!

Stroll along a pathway of poems
Spring is the perfect time to enjoy a leisurely stroll outside. Inspire yourself by taking the road less travelled and walk along one of the Meadows Community League’s Poetry Pathways! Over 80 poems by Edmonton poets have been sandblasted into sidewalks along 34 Avenue trails west of 17 Street and Silverberry Park.

Matthew Stepanic is the editor of Glass Buffalo and the poetry editor of Eighteen Bridges. His poetry has appeared in Eighteen Bridges, The New Quarterly, and others, and his first book—the collaborative novel Project Compass, written about Edmonton with three other authors—was published by Monto Books in Fall 2017. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram, where he's currently sharing poems about RuPaul's Drag Race.