For the first time, the Airdrie Public Library (APL) is hosting an open mic night later this month to showcase the winners and shortlisted poets of its fourth annual Poetry in Motion contest – a yearly collaboration held in partnership with the City of Airdrie.
According to Eric Pottie, programming and customer engagement manager at APL, every June, Airdronian scribes are eligible to submit their poems for the contest through the library’s website. Professional poets then blindly judge submissions, and the winning and shortlisted works are selected to be displayed on Airdrie Transit buses in the fall.
This year, renowned Canadian poet Bob Stallworthy judged the poems. The winner selected in two categories (all ages and youth 13-17) received a $100 gift card.
After the winners and finalists are determined, the winning poems are turned into ads that are displayed on City ICE buses throughout the month of September thanks to a partnership with the City that began four years ago.
“They take care of the ad space and are very kind to make that offer between the two of us,” Pottie said. “We’re now through all that process and the ads are being made and they’re getting ready to go on the buses later this week.”
The winner selected for the open, all ages category is Kira Anderson-Holladay, and for the youth category is Noor Mansoor. Shortlisted poets include Mia George and Jen Atkin.
Pottie added a celebration and open mic night event is slated for Sept. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. to acknowledge the efforts of all the poets who participated in the competition this year.
“All the poets are invited to come to the library, and they’ll be reading their poems that were selected,” he said, adding the event is also open to the public.
“After that, it’s open to anyone who has a poetry background at all. Even if they just like to write limericks, they can come to the library that night to share their craft.”
He added since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Poetry in Motion contest has mostly taken on a virtual format. With no more restrictions to worry about, APL is now able to host the event in person, with a live open mic event where people can drop in and share their poems.
“It will start with us formally congratulating the winners in the shortlist and having them read, and then they’ll turn it over to the public to be able to have their own chance to share their poems,” Pottie said.
According to the APL rep, Poetry in Motion is an important yearly event as it allows the library to highlight local poets and Airdrie voices. With Airdrie’s proximity to Calgary, Pottie said many people are mistaken in thinking the big city is the only place to take part in arts and cultural programming.
“It’s always great to be able to show the community how creative the people of Airdrie really are,” he said.
“[Poetry in Motion] shows there are plenty of people who are very creative who live right here in Airdrie who have a voice, who have all sorts of experiences that they’d like to share through the craft of poetry.
“We want to be able to support that here at the library and with the City be able to share with the people that are riding the bus who didn’t know people in Airdrie... were so talented.”