After a hiatus of four years, one of Ontario’s premier rural poetry festivals, Words Aloud (formerly the Words Aloud Spoken Word and Storytelling Festival), is returning to Grey-Bruce in October 2023.
It’s a multi-community event, with a weekend of poetry to be held at several locations in Owen Sound and Meaford between Friday, October 20 and Sunday, October 22.
“We invite all lovers of the written and spoken word to come and be moved by a top-flight roster of extra-regional poets who don’t normally visit small-town Ontario. They will help bring poetry into the mainstream of our community and inculcate a love of verse in the next generation,” said organizers.
This year’s slate is particularly exciting; poets were not selected based on theme but simply on the Artistic Director’s love of their verse. Things get underway at the Craig Gallery in Meaford, which will see the always engaging spoken word artist and musician Janice Jo Lee take the stage. The event will also feature a tribute to local spoken word legend Bob Menzies, and there will be an open mic. Saturday night’s main stage at the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library will showcase former Peterborough Poet Laureate Sarah Lewis, independent press legend Stuart Ross, and Edmonton spoken word powerhouse Brandon Wint. At Sunday’s noon stage at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Kim Fahner will bring her northern lyricism to the festival, Lenape poet Dan Lockhart will address some necessary issues, the one-person cultural industry that is Penn Kemp will dazzle us with her soundplay, and as a special guest, the now-local poetic legend Barry Dempster will be honoured.
As always, workshops will be the cornerstone of the festival. On Friday, Lee, Ross and Wint will be making visits to local schools, and there will be opportunities for adults to take poetry master classes with Lockhart and Kemp on Saturday at the M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre. Working with M’Wikwedong is particularly meaningful as we strive to reinforce our relationship with the Indigenous population, and so members of M’Wikwedong can take the workshops free of charge.
Free tickets will be available to clients of the United Way and the CMHA, and a reduced hardship rate is provided for patrons of limited financial resources. Full information, including ticketing and directions, is available on the website wordsaloud.ca.