The Breath In Poetry collective is a collection of poets, organizers and conscientious community members who have, since their humble beginnings in the winter of 2009, sought to expand the reach, efficacy and consciousness of Edmonton-based poetry. While in recent years the collective has become well known for its weekly slam and open mic series–the beloved Tuesday night Rouge Poetry Slam–the ambitions and successes of the collective have always been multi-faceted. As such, members of the collective have represented Edmonton’s poetry community by working with youth in prisons in Wales, and have been invited to attend literary conferences in Norwich, England, among others. In addition to their work abroad, Breath in Poetry has built a solid reputation within the landscape of Canadian spoken word poetry. The Edmonton spoken word community is well-known and honoured for its ability to add its authentic voice and perspective to the richness of Canada’s annual celebration of spoken word culture, The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. In 2011, members of the collective were crowned the champions of the national poetry slam. More locally, the collective is a well-respected resource for organizations and educators looking to bring the richness of poetry and orality to their functions or pedagogy. Breath In Poetry often uses its community ties in order to connect established and emerging poets to the people, institutions and opportunities that would best nourish their growth.
As such, BIP is a tireless and integral force of possibility and receptivity for poetry enthusiasts of all walks of life. Whether the collective is leading fun, engaging and authentic workshops within a local high school, or embodying the strength of story-telling for a community of new immigrants, the Breath In Poetry collective aims to help Edmonton’s culture of performance poetry reflect the diverse and nuanced needs of those who animate and inhabit the city. Irrespective of its form and the evolving nature of it its initiatives, projects and community partnerships, the goals and intentions of the collective are unchanging. The Breath In Poetry collective aims to do its part in creating communities that are warm, loving, resilient, and ultimately unified by a common appreciation for poetry, voice, performance and the power of the written word.
Rouge Poetry was founded by Titilope Sonuga in January of 2009 to provide an inclusive and safe space for poets of varied experience and diverse backgrounds. in April of 2009, The Breath In Poetry Collective was founded when Titilope Sonuga invited Ahmed Ali, Bert Richards and Nick Riley to help foster growth and support the poetry initiative. Since its inception, the Collective has seen a tremendous growth in programming and support by highly celebrated and multi disciplinary artist in the city including former poet Laureate Mary Pinkoski, former youth Poet Laureate Charlotte Cranston, Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon, Chris Kruger, Reakash Walters, Samantha Marie Estoesta Williams, Megan Dart and Nisha Patel to name a few. The Breath in Poetry Collective continues to be championed by current Artistic directors Ahmed Knowmadic Ali and Titilope Sonuga.