Mayor's Poetry City Challenge

Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi has challenged communities across Canada to have a poet read at their Council meetings for World Poetry Day and National Poetry Month. Click on the image above for information.

For National Poetry Month, we are celebrating Food & Poetry with live readings across the country and online conversations across platforms! Follow along on our NPM blog at or on twitter @CanadianPoets and join in on the fun by using the hashtags #eatingpoetry & #NPM15.

This year we encouraged poets and hosts to explore and savour the theme of Food and Poetry. Inspired by Rachel Rose’s inaugural speech as Vancouver’s Poet Laureate (see below), we want to investigate the ways in which “food is personal, political, sensual and powerful”. Food nourishes, grounds and connects us, much like poetry. Without food as without poetry, we go hungry. There is so much that can be spoken of and written about food and one’s experience with it. Imagine your city alive with the energy of poetry shared over picnics, at food drives, in vegetable gardens or orchards.

“Everyone has something to say about food, whether it is the activist challenging the cruelties of conventional farming, the exile remembering the waft of spices on lost streets, or the child writing about the sockeye salmon she buys at Granville Island. Food is personal, political, sensual, and powerful. It concerns every one of us. It’s time to write hymns to dumplings, sonnets to community gardens, love lyrics to beekeepers, odes to the food banks that fed your family while you were sick, pantoums to the lost spices of home now that you are an exile, fierce free verse about conventional chicken farming, performance poetry about guerilla gardens, hymns to the feasts your grandmother prepared, incantations about poverty and food insecurity and bohemian rhapsodies about dumpster diving.”

– Rachel Rose

What is the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge? The Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge is a national celebration of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day (March 21) and National Poetry Month in April. Begun in 2012, the Challenge is an annual initiative through which municipal councils across Canada open their Council meetings with a reading from a local poet. The aim is for local communities to celebrate poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers to the rich cultural life in our country.

The Challenge was first offered by Regina’s Mayor Pat Fiacco and continued by Mayor Michael Fougere. This year, Calgary has taken over as the host city, with Mayor Naheed Nenshi offering the challenge to his fellow Canadian mayors. This year’s initiative is a collaboration between the League of Canadian Poets, the city of Calgary, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Loft 112. For more information and a list of participating cities visit:

A prize of $5,000 will be awarded for the best work of poetry. Two honourable mentions will each receive $1,000 prizes. To be eligible candidates must be: A Canadian citizen or permanent resident; under the age of 35 as of the deadline; unpublished in book form and without a book contract; previously published in an independently edited literary magazine, journal, or anthology.

Candidates should submit 5 – 10 pages of previously unpublished poetry. Manuscript pages must not include identifying information and should be consecutively numbered.

By submitting to this award, candidates grant the Writers’ Trust of Canada permission to publish their work in print and digital formats should they be shortlisted. All rights reserved by the author. Submission deadline March 2, 2015. Visit: