Feature Poet – Megan Dart

New Lines

I am not the women who came before me: they who think housekeeping is sweeping
empty bottles and unpleasant thoughts under rugs, forcing family to tiptoe on broken
glass and hushed secrets, they who ash cigarettes out kitchen windows, scurrying
smoke from lips while pshawing this dirty little habit.

Women who measure worth against waist size, trading soft earth mother bellies and
fully digested ideas for cinched belts and svelte cocktail party repartee: another martini?

They who surgically smooth out deeply dug trenches along lips pursed and brows
furrowed over decades more to ensure they stay on their husband’s bankroll, they who
say: you’ll meet your match at University, instead of pushing their daughters to pursue
degrees in engineering or mathematics or philosophy; they who say: behind every good
man is a woman, waiting.

I am not of the women who dress to go to bed: full face and freshly slicked lipstick,

Untitled by The White Deer

Untitled by The White Deer

practically perfect in every way; they who fear standing out, standing up, speaking loud,
being proud; they who call girls like me: Bitch. Bossy. Crazy.

There are days when I wonder: was I born into the wrong family?

I am of the tribe of women birthed from the bottle-necked loins of Dionysus, shot out
sparkling like a cork on New Year’s eve, raucous laugh bubbling over obnoxiously, the
loudest mother in the room yelling: follow me!

…or don’t – I respect your autonomy.

I am of the undomesticated: tumbleweed hair and tree trunk legs and the canyon crack
where headwaters run rivulets in freshly carved banks breaking bold paths toward
ocean freedom, flowing without pretense, arriving only as myself.

I am of the other: light feet, wild eyes that see too far, dangerous thoughts that wander
off the edge of the world, words that catch fire just to see what will burn.

Women who travel with a suitcase of outrageous blessings, who strap their pack to their
own back, piling wayward strands in gorgeous chaos upon a head filled with impossible
thoughts, they who trade delicacy for vast brilliance, who chart a path by stars and
intuition only.

Women who shed clothes not to show skin, but to feel the intricacy of each snowflake
as it lands, who refuse to become an endangered species, who, when told to colour
inside the lines, draw new lines.

Why did you write this poem?
For the firecracker women in my life who challenge the norm, stand on their own two capable feet, chase their wildest dreams no matter how impossibly big or seemingly unattainable, are unapologetically raw and real, laugh loudly – often and sometimes till they cry – and love with a heart that could swallow the world.

About Megan Dart
Megan is the co-Artistic Producer of Catch the Keys Productions, Edmonton’s go-to indie arts event and production company. Catch the Keys is equal parts party starter, community activator and multidisciplinary creator. Megan holds her Bachelor of Communications in Professional Writing from Grant MacEwan University, and is a playwright, spoken word artist and freelance arts publicist. Megan is the artist liaison and publicity manager for Nextfest; the publicity manager for The Expanse Festival; a Street Team member with the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta; the President of The Good Women Dance Collective; and a committee member with Theatre Network and the Theatre Edmonton Project. Megan was named one of the Top 100 Women in Business by The Wanderer Online, and is a 2014 Grant MacEwan University Distinguished Alumni. 

Twitter: @mldart
Instagram: @mldart

Feature Poet – Alexander Squires


Girls are sensual,  sexual, beautiful.

Their  curves wrap around me in ways I can’t explain.


Boys are tough, rugged , rough around the edges.

Heavy breathing against my neck, his chest against mine.

Testosterone and adrenaline pulsing through me

I lose myself to the feeling.

Not thinking about my body now.

Only theirs.

So why, when it’s over, am I so aware of my body.

My body that hurts me.

The curvy body of the girls I find so beautiful.VENN by Steven Mont

 Why can’t I be happy with my beautiful curvy body?

Why can’t I love my skin?

because others perceive my body in a way that makes it no longer mine.

They see my chest as “girl”

hear My voice and think “woman”

But here’s the thing.

My partner has always said it best.

He says “that chest is your chest, baby. That makes it a mans chest. That voice is yours that makes it a mans voice.”

My body is mine!

I am a beautiful, curvy, tough, rugged, PROUD transgender man.

This is the only body I get.

I will make it my temple.

Why did you write this poem?
My inspiration for writing this poem was the fact that I am transgender and I have a hard time being positive about my body a lot so I wanted to write something about the things that are good about my body because I need to see it more as my body and not the body that other people see it as.

More about Alexander Squires
My name is Alexander Squires. I’m 19 and moved to edmonton a year ago from a town of 2000 people. I came out as transgender 2 1/2 years ago when I met my current partner and I started testosterone therapy 2 months ago. I am an aspiring tattoo artist and  I love all kinds of art but only recently started trying my hand at poetry and I am finding that I enjoy it a lot.

Find me on Facebook: Alexander Matthew Squires

Support Alex’s chest surgery fund at http://www.gofundme.com/Alexstopsurgery

Feature Poet – Liam Coady

When I Go

When I rode off into the sunset
There was no blackout / Or camera behind me.
I did not recede into the distance.
I was still very much present

-Buddy Wakefield


I am a loose-lipped sunken ship.
A catatonic convulsion of yesterday.
I ride ramped into this too,
Too big of a galaxy
With sails in my windpipes and hoof tracks in my throat.
On my future coffin, you can place your bet
On if this soul will cast a shadow
On the night sky, or whether your
Catharsis and hopes were finally met
When I rode off into the sunset

With all expectations tin-foiled too tightly.
Send me sailing on a horse-drawn boat
And don’t hold the reigns and ropes against me.
Although I tried, I was not brought here
To please; to bend around your nimbus cloud.
Give me westbound wind and rewind me,
Turn my tape too far backwards
And see the yesterdays before I set off, rode sail.
Note that though we loved seldom, but kindly,
There was no blackout or camera behind me.

Truly this road and river flows both ways,
For between us there were naval wars
And western stand-offs.
Don’t forget that it was my gallop
That floated your ship, my coarse
That brought your tomorrow, my resistance
That blew the dust and wind on your bow.
All this you returned to me with fiery steed
And violent waves, given at any instance,
Knowing I did not recede into the distance.

So when I take my final venture into the galaxy,
Know this:
I knew nothing on sailing or riding.
I knew nothing on leaving regret behind.
There is plenty to go around in these saddlebags
And even more in my mast. Don’t resent
Me. I will shut my windpipe
Unless you need a westbound wind.

Never forget, whether I found rise or descent:

I was still very much present

About Liam Coady

Liam Coady is a sweat’s drop of sunset, a wedge of a watermark, and a bit of a bush wolf. He is a recent graduate of the University of Alberta where he completed his BA in Drama with an English minor. A winner of the 2011 National Poetry Slam and a finalist in the 2014 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, Liam has been recognized across Canada for his poetic endeavours. Along with poetry, Liam is also an actor, performance creator, dramaturge, and joe jobber. Currently, Liam has just released his chapbook Talks with the Immortal Jellyfish and is working with local musicians to record soundscapes and poetry.
You can look Liam up on his Facebook page (Liam Coady), Twitter (@TheLocoCoyote), and his current blog (liamspoetrycorner.tumblr.com)

Feature Poet – Ben Freeland

New Orleans is Clawing at My Bones

I used to dream of New Orleans
the birthplace of jazz
the humid, sinewy underarm of America
that place where the tide rolled in
corralling with it all the Devil’s rejects
the flotsam of continents
each wave rolling over the previous
that place where the soft syllabary of the Natchez
learned sharpness in the wind
and still claws through the cold blasts from the Mississippi
still angry, still bitter as hell
dragging its nails through the delta
from its rusted chains in abandoned Haitian slave forts
I used to dream of New Orleans all the time
that place where Morton jellyrolled and Fats stacked dominoes
and Bonham beat down the buttresses till they busted open
that place where sea wall shadowmaps and Sazerac swizzle sticks
tell you what time it is, and when it’s time to go home
or not
and leave you on the same barstool the following morning
paralytic, trying to remember
where you left your bike
and what ward you live in
and why the delta conspired to make the air so sticky
and the ghosts so damn persistent
Don’t they know it’s past closing time?
Yeah, that’s the place I used to dream of
that is, of course, until the day it all got washed away
For ever, we all thought
No more Frenchmen Street
No more Preservation Hall
No more seductively mangled français
The Saints, we assumed, would not be coming back
not this time
in spite of the assurances of Irish rock stars and preprogrammed politicos
Is it not true that nothing is forever
even in this town?
But then the river receded
and the night watch came
not saints, just sinners with spray paint cans
mapping the city as they swarmed through the streets
tattooing the town
with the defiXiones
the X mark
haunted crosses everywhere that spoke with a thousand voices
We’re watching you.
We may be dispersed but we’re watching you.
We’re not done here.
Tonight New Orleans is clawing at my bones
she’s there in every neon-lit puddle
every misspelled word
every unapologetic wrong note in a pentatonic scale
she’s there in every empty glass
at the end of the long night
and she’s there in every X mark
no, nothing wrong, nothing incorrect
just a seething mass of humanity
wheezing like a Louisiana freighter
dragging us all back to life
even as we kick and scream for a safer, more logical abode
Yes, this is the place I used to dream of
the refuge of the reckless
the fortress of fools
where the city sees and the water saws
and Moldovan cabbies careen through Napoleonic alleyways
like they were somehow theirs to begin with
You’re not done with me yet, are you?
Sousaphones playing Pink Floyd – you’re not done with me yet
Scarlet corsets and scandalous bike rides – you’re not done with me yet
Tearful tunes percussed by distant freight trains – you’re definitely not done with me yet
Boys who fell asleep in the army only to wake up on a streetcorner with placards round their necks
selling jello shots and shitty advice – you’re not done with me yet either, are you?
Nope, the city with too many exes and not enough whys
haunts my dreams now more than ever.
And I have no reason to think she’ll stop
so I might as well get comfortable
Nouvelle Orléans, Bayou Sauvage
prends ce que tu veux de moi.
For unlike you
I truly am defenceless.

Why did you write this poem?
I attended a professional conference in New Orleans in February of this year, and was completely transfixed by the place. As a historian by background, I’ve always been fascinated by the city’s long and complicated history, but I hadn’t realized how truly haunted the place is. In New Orleans the ghosts don’t merely lurk – they sing and dance and keep you up all night. One of the sights that made the biggest impression on me is the X marks on houses left over from Hurricane Katrina, marks that most residents have kept visible (and even painted around) as badges of survival. I wrote this poem a couple of days after returning from my trip, after several nights of vivid dreams about a place I was sad to leave.

About Ben Freeland
Ben grew up on Vancouver Island and began his writing career while in grad school at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. A Pushcart Prize nominee for non-fiction, Ben’s historical and travel essays have been published on both sides of the Pacific, in publications ranging from the Globe and Mail to Asia-Pacific airline in-flight magazines. A relative newcomer to poetry, Ben has written plays, short stories, song lyrics and even film subtitles, and once copy-edited a letter from the Japan Financial Services Agency addressed to Colonel Gaddafi. You can read more of his handiwork at www.brushtalk.blogspot.ca.

Feature Poet – Megan Dart

Long Day

I wake to the sound of wind rushing through leaves of centuries old trees and am
reminded of the shore pulling ocean toward her, the comforting crash of water kissing
rock outside my childhood bedroom door.

I pull your dream damp body into the cave of my arms, your breath stirring the small
hairs on the back my neck, a sweet surrender.

The sun has been rolling on high for hours now, but I can’t bring myself to rouse you
with soft whispered words. I watch eyes dance beneath draped lids, the safe space
where comfort and imagination spin a careful 1-2-side-step slow dance around the room
where, night after night, you lay me down, head on chest, a private concert starring the
hypnotic tic-toc of your generous heart.

From the series Abyss of the Disheartened by LA based photographer Heather Landis

I am grateful for the long reach of the sun’s outstretched arms, fingers curling into
palm beckoning a full day of play where skin is reddened, screens forgotten, freckles

(you will connect those sun-kissed dots with salt-wetted lips later, each salutation a
hushed thank you.)

I beg the moon to return just one minute more so I might relive the moment when night
gave way to day and new light fell soft against the imperfect lines of your slack face, the
worries of wake washed away by waves of summer breeze lapping the hem of bedroom
window curtain.

I collect this moment like the seashells I plunked into buckets of water, and sand dollars
and crabs discovered under rocks in the recesses of memory, knowing love is the sum
of quiet happenings gone unnoticed by anyone but me and you, the sun and the moon,
the coming and going of foam to shore, the way the rock and the water kiss ever so
gently again and again without greed, without expectation, without need of wanting
anything more.

Why did you write this poem?
I woke up on the morning of summer solstice next to my love and thought, for a sleepy dreamy moment, the wind blowing through the trees was actually the sound of the ocean – the nostalgic sound of the west coast beaches I explored as a child.

About Megan Dart
Megan is the co-Artistic Producer of Catch the Keys Productions, Edmonton’s go-to indie arts event and production company. Catch the Keys is equal parts party starter, community activator and multidisciplinary creator. Megan holds her Bachelor of Communications in Professional Writing from Grant MacEwan University, and is a playwright, spoken word artist and freelance arts publicist. Megan is the artist liaison and publicity manager for Nextfest; the publicity manager for The Expanse Festival; a Street Team member with the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta; the President of The Good Women Dance Collective; and a committee member with Theatre Network and the Theatre Edmonton Project. Megan was named one of the Top 100 Women in Business by The Wanderer Online, and is a 2014 Grant MacEwan University Distinguished Alumni.

Feature Poet – Titilope Sonuga


When the world unravels before you
and even your dreams are crumbling stones
when everything you dare to touch is set on fire
and all around you is ash and smoke
remember this

rock bottom is a perfect place for rebuilding


remember that you are your mother’s daughter
your grandmother’s answered prayers
a whole bloodline of women
who bend in response to raging winds

there is nothing broken here
nothing damaged or discarded
each scar is a badge of honor
your smile is an act of defiance against the sun
every misstep is a victory dance waiting to happen

You are a woman becoming
learning the complicated language of forgiveness
the intricate lessons of the universe

Your heart is just a muscle waiting for exercise
and you were born for this sort of heavy lifting
You were born one part saint
one part warrior woman

Loving yourself without shame
is the most important thing
you will ever have to fight for

Why did you write this poem? 
I wrote this poem long before I ever needed to hear the words in it. It’s amazing how it became a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. Months later when I was going through what felt like my own personal hell, it was my own words mirrored back to me that helped me get out of bed in the mornings. Words heal.

About Titilope Sonuga
Titilope Sonuga is a Nigerian born poet, performer and Civil Engineer. She was the winner of the 2011 Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award, as well as the 2013 RISE Award and 2014 NBCC Fil Fraser Award for achievement in the arts. She performed at the 2011 Chinua Achebe Colloquium on Africa, and her writing was selected from over 200 applicants to meet acclaimed poet, Maya Angelou. She is the creator of Breath In Poetry and a founding member of the Breath In Poetry Collective.


twitter: @deartitilope
instagram: titilope , deartitilope


Feature Poet – Medgine Mathurin


Mes Mémoires d’enfance

There are chalk stains
Pasted on the concrete grounds of my current adulthood
Pigments of a time when television was a privilege only afforded by those with electricity generators.
When imagination became primetime entertainment
And little brothers and sisters were power rangers and Mortal Kombat assassins fighting air-shaped nemesis.
Battles often won by the stabbing of tree branches

When the sound of rain
on metal rooftops
Were concert bass sounds
We found ourselves yelling over to hear each other

Memories of playing street vendor
Where rocks became produce
Strategically arranged in pyramids
Hustling any known visitor to buy them
In exchange for enough money to buy
Tablette candy, douce, glass bottled coca-colas

Mimicking hustles of Haitian Markets
Blinded to the men and women hustling to make enough money for their children to become our classmates

Sketches of faded childhood ambition
Now stand before me
Along with the cracks reality often brings if you are alive long enough to see it.


Why did you write this poem?
Most of my childhood memories stem from growing up in Haiti. I remember cradling myself under these memories, getting drunk in the nostalgia of my childhood thoughts… Not wanting to sober myself to the realities of being a first nation immigrant. The struggle re identify myself as a teenager growing up in Calgary. I’m thankful for the privilege afforded to me to learn English and to go to university and to see different parts of the world, but I don’t ever want to forget where I came from.

About Medgine
Born and raised in Haiti, Medgine spent her teenage years in Calgary and now calls Edmonton, her 3rd home. Her story is infused with English, French & Créole. Having recently graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor in Biological Science, she finds joy in poetry and creative writing. Medgine‘s aim through her poetry is to uplift and enlighten those who hear it. With 3 years of writing under her pen, she has gotten the opportunity to perform in various cities across Canada including Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, and even overseas in Trinidad. She was part of the 2012 Edmonton Slam Team, and the edmonton representative in the 2013 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, held in Vancouver last year. Recently has gotten the opportunity to present her spoken word at the inaugural launch of the Michaëlle Jean Canadian Caribbean, African Diasporic Studies Lecture Series at the University of Alberta.

Twitter: medgeemedge
Instagram: medgeemedge
Facebook Page: Medgine