The Festival

The People’s Poetry Festival is a 3-day event held in Kensington, Calgary, Alberta. The festival combines poetry, spoken word and visual art to bring you three glorious days of celebrating street poetry in Cow Town. Throughout the year, we also hope to hold a number of events – from our book launch, to poetry readings and the occassional poetry bash or four – but the crux of our being happens in August, when the sun is high and hot above us, and the streets are primed for a little poetic lovin’.

The totally free, three-day festival includes a kick-off event Friday evening to introduce the appointed People’s Poet of Honor. The next two, full days – Saturday and Sunday - are filled with Poetic Graffiti walks – our (not-so) patented outdoor art show that combines a poet’s words with a visual artist’s vision, tucked between buildings and down sidestreets in Kensington – a variety of DIY poetry stations – where you, too, can prevent poetic apathy – and a host of live, open mic and scheduled readings from the People’s Poet of Honor and other great headliners. We also throw in a few workshops and lectures for your enjoyment, including an event hosted at the Central Library, and leave PPF-branded jars lying around your favorite Kensington pubs and coffee shops, so that you too can take part by writing a little napkin or coaster poetry!

For more information on the upcoming 2012 festival, check out our 2012 Festival page.

Poetic Graffiti
Poetic Graffiti – 1. (n) Large works of poetry that combine both literary and visual artistic elements; works of poetry, sometimes surreptitiously, left in public spaces to inspire thought, action, reaction or pleasure in the audience. 2. (v) The act of creating and distributing works of poetry for public consumption in unconvential, public spaces

When we launched the PPF in 2011, our founder, Neshali Weera, had a vision. And that vision was to combine words and images. While this had already been done in children’s books, Weera’s creative spirit envisioned a world where poetry and visual art pieces combined into one large, glorious work of art. And thus, the PPF Poetic Graffiti art walk was born. Poetry submitted to the PPF each year is selected and given to a visual artist who, using input from the author and their own artistic drive, creates a large-scale pieces of art that draws on the poet’s words for maximum effect. Utilizing any medium they see fit – whether pencil, ink, paint, pastel, wood, etc. – the artist creates a piece of work that embodies the poem literally, emotionally, suggestively and figuratively. These works are then tucked near Killian, Joints, and other narrow, little-frequented sidestreets of Kensington for passersby to consider and enjoy.

DIY Poetry Stations
DIY Poetry – 1. (n) Poetry that is done by oneself; 2. (v) the act of creating poetry in a welcoming, inclusive and collaborative environment.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of people out there who still think that poetry is not for them. For generations, poetry has been seen as an artform practiced by the academic ellite and/or pompous. But no more! Poetry, in all it’s incantations and regenerations, is truly about expression of the people, for the people. From Shakespeare’s sonnets on love, to Ginsberg’s beats, to the hip-hop-esque Spoken Word of today, poetry is meant to engage, inspire, educate and frustrate audiences on all levels, causing them to laugh, cry, enjoy, learn, dispute and converse.

The PPF believes that everyone who wants to know more about poetry – who wants to explore, create and engage with poetry and the artistic community around them – has the right to do so. Our DIY Poetry stations – scattered throughout Kensington at places like Pages Books, Higher Ground, The Roasterie and more – provide an artistic outlet that’s two-fold:

  1. Poets of all caliber - young and old, small and tall – can create poetry alongside, and in many instances, with, their neighbors. Whether they’re contributing a line to the ever-growing piece at the Endless Typewriter, adding another leaf to the Haiku Tree, growing the artwork during the Sidewalk Chalk Revolution, or filling pages in the Poetry Journal, their work becomes part of the collective poem that is Calgary
  2. New poets, aspiring poets, children and grownups of all ages who wonder about poetry, are intrigued, interested, curious or down-right afraid, can learn about and try their hand at a variety of poetic forms in a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Whether it’s haiku, long form or short form, limericks, spoken word, narrative or otherwise, we’re here so that you can come to love poetry as much as we do!

Readings and Spoken Word
Poetry reading – 1. (n) An event in which poetry is read to an audience; 2. (v) The act of reading poetry
Spoken word – 1. (n) An event in which spoken word is performed for an audience; 2. (v) Words that are spoken; the act of performing spoken word poetry

A crucial part of any poetry-related event, readings and performances, the PPF hosts an outdoor microphone – usually in front of the Plaza Theatre – that features an array of poetry readings, spoken word and open mic performances from morning ’til night on both Saturday and Sunday. Scheduled readings by the PPF People’s Poet of Honor and other headlining poets are interspersed with open mic time slots, enabling us to share good words with passersby. All spoken word performances can be recorded as part of the Calgary Spoken Word podcast for you to enjoy over, and over, and over again!

Workshops and Lectures
Not content to rest on our poetic laurels, as it were, the PPF also endeavors to bring you interesting and engaging, free workshops and lectures. Hosted at various establishments throughout Kensington, these workshops are run by well-known and established poets and academic instructors keen to share their love, wisdom, insight and guidance.

We also partner with the Calgary Public Library to bring you a free workshop, hosted at the Central branch. Each year we arrange a different facilitator to guide participants through a particular activity, answer questions or just plain chat. For more information, visit the Calgary Public Library Program Guide.

Napkin/Coaster Poetry
Ever been in the middle of a non-fat, no-whip, decaf soy latte and croissant at The House Coffee Sanctuary and thought, “This delightful beverage is so chock-full of cinnamon, I’m inspired to eulogize a’la ‘The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife’ by Michael Ondaatje”? We have, too! Now, the PPF offers you the perfect way to write and share your coffe shop and pub/eatery poetry. Write us a poem – anything you want – and stick it in the PPF-branded jar (or maybe it’s a box, who knows?) and we’ll not only read it and enjoy it, we’ll publish it our annual collection of poetry! How fab is that? And here you thought you were just getting a coffee…

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