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The Word On The Street has been renowned for the quality and diversity of its event programming and our next festival promises to offer the best so far. Check out our 2021 schedule! All events will be presented on Zoom. In-person activities for Saturday, September 18th have been cancelled, and the festival will be online only.

Sat, Sept 18: Chapter and Verse: A Trio of Alberta Poets with Bertrand Bickersteth, Dallas Hunt, and Nisha Patel

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

This session will be presented on Zoom with a sign language interpreter. Register free on Eventbrite for tickets – https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/169342318433

Coconut

In her debut collection, Canadian National Slam Champion Nisha Patel commands her formidable insight and youthful, engaged voice to relay experiences of racism, sexuality, empowerment, grief, and love. These are vitally political, feminist poems for young women of colour, with bold portrayals of confession, hurt, and healing.

Coconut rises fiercely like the sun. These poems bestow light and warmth and the ability to witness the world, but they ask for more than basking; they ask readers to grow and warn that they can be burnt. Above all, Nisha Patel’s work questions and challenges propriety and what it means to be a good woman, second-generation immigrant, daughter, consumer, and lover.

  • LGTBQ+
  • Poetry

Nisha Patel

Nisha Patel is a queer spoken word poet and artist. She is the City of Edmonton’s 8th Poet Laureate and the 2019 Canadian Individual Slam Champion. She is a prominent organizer and community builder, having worked with festivals across Canada, participating in both the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the Canadian Individual Slam Championship. Her chapbooks, Limited Success, Water, Edmonton Girl, and I See You have reached audiences around the world with their discussions of family and grief, racism, and feminism. Over the years, Nisha has led many workshops and performed from small town Moose Jaw to metropolitan Seoul, South Korea over the course of four national and international tours. With nearly 200 performances to date, Nisha is committed to furthering her goals of reaching audiences that need it and the pursuit of excellence in spoken word. To that end, she has self-started community-focused residencies and mentored poets from multiple disciplines, curated showcases, taught performance and writing, and worked within new genres. In 2019, she co-founded a national queer femme South Asian artist collective, Maza Arts, and co-founded Moon Jelly House, a publishing house centring the work of marginalized poets. Her debut collection, Coconut, is a part of the Crow Said Poetry series.

Creeland

Creeland is a poetry collection concerned with notions of home and the quotidian attachments we feel to those notions, even across great distances. Even in an area such as Treaty Eight (northern Alberta), a geography decimated by resource extraction and development, people are creating, living, laughing, surviving and flourishing—or at least attempting to.

The poems in this collection are preoccupied with the role of Indigenous aesthetics in the creation and nurturing of complex Indigenous lifeworlds. They aim to honour the encounters that everyday Cree economies enable, and the words that try—and ultimately fail—to articulate them. Hunt gestures to the movements, speech acts and relations that exceed available vocabularies, that may be housed within words like joy, but which the words themselves cannot fully convey. This debut collection is vital in the context of a colonial aesthetic designed to perpetually foreclose on Indigenous futures and erase Indigenous existence.

  • Indigenous
  • Poetry

Dallas Hunt

Dallas Hunt is Cree and a member of Wapsewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty Eight territory in Northern Alberta. He has had creative work published in Contemporary Verse 2, Prairie Fire, PRISM international and Arc Poetry. His first children’s book, Awâsis and the World-famous Bannock, was published through Highwater Press in 2018, and was nominated for several awards. Hunt is an assistant professor of Indigenous literatures at the University of British Columbia.

The Response of Weeds: A Misplacement of Black Poetry on the Prairies

Bertrand Bickersteth’s debut poetry collection explores what it means to be black and Albertan through a variety of prisms: historical, biographical, and essentially, geographical. The Response of Weeds offers a much-needed window on often overlooked contributions to the province’s character and provides personal perspectives on the question of black identity on the prairies. Through these rousing and evocative poems, Bickersteth uses language to call up the contours of the land itself, land that is at once mesmerizing as it is dismissively effacing. Such is black identity here on this paradoxical land, too.

  • Poetry

Bertrand Bickersteth

Born in Sierra Leone, Bertrand Bickersteth grew up in Edmonton, Calgary, and Olds, Alberta. After an English degree at UBC, Bertrand continued studying in the U.K. and later taught in the U.S. A return to Alberta provided him with new insights on black identity and most of his writing has been committed to these perspectives ever since. Although he writes in several genres, anticlimactically, the topic is always the same: what does it mean to be black and from the prairies? He has also given many public talks including a TED Talk for BowValleyCollegeTEDx called The Weight of Words. His poetry has appeared in several publications, including most recently The Antigonish Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Fieldstone Review. He has also been published in The Great Black North and the forthcoming anthology The Black Prairie Archives (2020). In 2018, he was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. He lives in Calgary, teaches at Olds College, and writes everywhere.