Nisha Patel is a unique kind of city planner in Edmonton. She zones for the heart. So Edmontonians can build an affection for this place.
Nisha Patel is the new Poet Laureate of Edmonton.
“I am excited to embody the truth that poetry changes lives, and to do so in this city is a privilege and a responsibility,” Patel said. “I hope that through teaching and writing and performing, we can explore new avenues for love and justice together.”
Patel is the eighth Poet Laureate since Alice Major first held the post in 2005. Patel takes the baton from Ahmed “Knowmadic” Ali.
Supported by The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton’s Poet Laureate works to reflect thelife of the city through readings and poetry. As an ambassador for the literary arts, the Poet Laureate brings poetry into a range of official and informal city events.
Patel has big plans.
“The core of everything I want to do for the next two years lies in mentorship,” said Patel. “Bringing up voices of people who have thought they didn’t have a place in the city or haven’t had their stories told. I want to implement a mentorship system over the next two years and I want to host widespread faculty and mentorship intensive workshops.”
“I’m also taking on a side project to try and document the history of poetry in the city,” said Patel. “I want to do that through interviewing poets from all walks of life who have made their home here and putting that series out on a blog or on a video platform to try and figure out when did poetry get to Edmonton, what has it looked like and what does it look like now?”
Patel is an award-winning Indo-Canadian poet and artist. She is a graduate of the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta, and has been plying her poetic practice for the past five years.
In 2018 she received the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund Award. Her poetry chapbook Limited Success, published in May 2018, is now in its second printing. In May 2019 she won the titles of Edmonton Slam Champion and Canadian Individual Slam Champion. In June 2019, she became Executive Director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, which is now in its 15th year.
“When did poetry get to Edmonton, what has it looked like and what does it look like now?” – Nisha Patel
Sanjay Shahani, the Edmonton Arts Council’s Executive Director, predicted Patel’s “passion for building community and her contagious creativity, passion and enthusiasm” will make her an inspiring Poet Laureate.
Both Shahani and Mayor Don Iveson praised “Knowmadic” for his commitment in making the Poet Laureate a visible fixture in the community over his term. The Mayor went on to say Patel is a worthy successor.
“Nisha has proven herself to be as driven as she is eloquent, and we’re excited to see the impact she will have on our community,” Iveson said.
Patel revels in the attention her words attract. At a news conference to announce her Poet Laureate posting, she put it this way:
“As you know Canada has declared a climate emergency,” said Patel. “We’re all gonna die. Here is a poem about that.”
Here’s the verse she delivered next:
Patel planted a memorable message for young poets in the city who are discovering their felicity with language.
“To whoever they are, I think that you know when you have a story inside of you,” said Patel. “Trying to deny that by going to business school, or going to law school or becoming a doctor… there will never be a time in which the entire universe looks at you and tells you that your story is important so you have to make the opportunity for yourself.”
Transforming Edmonton followers may remember Patel from her performance at City Hall on International Women’s Day in March. Buckle up: https://transformingedmonton.ca/a-mill-woods-girl-on-international-womens-day/
Patel’s two-year term officially begins July 1.