By Jessie Foster
VACOUVER – Sheri-D Wilson is a nonstop monsoon of creativity emitting from every stem of her poetic physique. This internationally known and celebrated poet has been busy pioneering the spoken word genre for 30 years and now, with the title of Calgary’s Poet Laureate added to her belt, shows no sign of dwindling. Wilson has written 11 books, won countless awards for poetry, started the very first spoken word program at the Banff Centre and generally been an idol for women and artists everywhere. She has created this new all-inclusive poetic event called Poetrology.
“Instead of you as an audience member coming to an event and hearing a poet and clapping and walking away, wouldn’t it be cool if I created an event that stimulated the audience into writing, drawing pictures, taking pictures, so they become a part of the event,” says Wilson.
Poetrology is a series of events throughout her two-year Poet Laureate that will ignite June 29 and 30 with performances, poetry hacking, plays, sounds and music at Calgary’s acclaimed national historical site, the Memorial Park Library.
This performance will be for “anybody who wants to come and play,” and Wilson focuses heavily on the inclusive aspect of the experience. The two-day event will be free of charge, with audience members signing up online beforehand for a shot at one of the limited 100 tickets that are available.
“It’s for everyone to recognize that this is a really important space that they want to be part of so they get that ticket ahead of time. It’s a really great thing,” she says.
Poets and guests will enter through the back door and in every room of the venue, named “rooms of interest,” there will be something quirky happening, whether this means witnessing someone playing a saw, reading a poem or maybe slides of a surrealist’s journey.
“People will come in and be encouraged to explore their own experience. I’m hoping that people will just wander and get into their own poetry heads, take it into their bodies and see what happens and explore their own creativity, their own imaginations,” says Wilson.
Poetry hacking, for those who aren’t familiar, is quite literally how it sounds. As part of Poetrology, participants will be given an envelope containing chopped up lines of poetry and it’s up to them to paste the words in the order they feel they should be. One of the four past Poet Laureates in attendance will then read these poems aloud and repeat the process themselves. This will create new works of art and showcase how differently everyone can interpret poetry.
“It’s about how does that make you feel? What does that make you think? How does that move you?” Wilson says. “We live in a polarity that I find really disturbing and I want to respond with something joyous and inclusive. It really becomes about listening.”
Wilson reiterated that this is not about liking or disliking any certain element of the poetry. It’s about giving people the space to respond with creativity and understanding instead of a yes and no, which is a mindset in which she thinks we should begin to separate from.
“I believe in living life to the fullest and the grandest and the biggest and the boldest at every moment, I really mean that. I don’t just lip service it, I believe in going wild.”
Expect to see many more events such as this one popping up over the next couple years. Sheri-D Wilson has big plans for Calgary’s poetry scene and is running with the bulls to open people’s minds and obliterate preconceived notions of our literate world.
Get your tickets online while there’s still some left, head over to www.calgaryspokenwordfestival.com to sign up for Poetrology June 29 & 30.