New West poet laureate takes to the streets to write poetry

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The New Westminster Poet Laureate will take to the streets to create poems on the spot for members of the community.

Elliott Slinn, who is the City of New Westminster Poet Laureate from 2021 to 2024, works to break down barriers associated with poetry and art.

“I feel like people think poetry has to be Shakespeare, or be shaped like a sonnet – and so I think a lot of people are afraid to write it themselves. I want to show that poetry is something accessible. It doesn’t always have to rhyme or be long or have a shape – I think there just needs to be emotional honesty, ”he said. “If we can become vulnerable (with ourselves), we can put our feelings on paper; and it’s poetry to me.

As part of that goal, Slinn will set up in the open space outside the London Drugs and Starbucks on Sixth Street for several hours on Saturday August 28 and create poems there. Because “it’s hard to type in the rain,” the event will depend on the weather.

“I will have a table and two chairs. Someone can sit across from me and they can provide a word, emotion or feeling that they would like me to write about and I will use that to anchor the poem and write around them, ”he said. -he declares. “Alternatively, I can freestyle and write something myself from my own imagination / emotion. “

That’s exactly what Slinn did when he moved downtown on August 22.

“There were quite a few moments of synchronicity,” he noted. “I wrote a poem for a man, and for some reason I wrote on the image of an eagle – there was no eagle in the sky or anything. When I gave it to him, he told me that the eagle was his favorite animal and had special meaning for him, so it was like a wink from the universe.

When Slinn tested his poetry skills in the streets of Robson Street and Yaletown a few weeks ago, he said everything had gone really well and people were engaged; he hopes to have a similar participation and experience in New West.

The poems will be available for free, but Slinn will accept donations, which will help fund future art projects such as creating prints and hiring an illustration artist for a book he’s working on.

“I don’t want to create financial barriers for people so if they feel so inclined to donate that’s great, but I also realize times are tough and money is tight. , so I’m happy to write for people at no cost, ”he said. “It’s not about the money for me, I just want to share.”

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