Since the League of Canadian Poets established National Poetry Month in 1999, April is officially the busiest month for poets. The union of schools, booksellers, literary organizations, publishers, libraries and poets now come together annually to celebrate poetry’s crucial role in Canada’s culture.
In Halifax, celebrate all things poetical with a reading at Spring Garden Public Library with poets Tanya Davis, Jaime Forsythe and Phanuel Antwi on Tuesday, April 30 (Poetry, What's Happening? 7pm, Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library).
“I’m a poet in all the months. It doesn’t change anything for me,” says Davis. “I get more gigs in April. It would be more ideal to have poetry throughout the year.”
The intentions of National Poetry Month were developed by the League of Canadian Poets, whose mandate for the month is to educate and expand poetry audiences, boost poetry sales, increase poetry’s profile in media and hopefully inspire more reading, writing and teaching of Canadian poetry. “National Poetry Month is for the people who don’t read or write poetry,” says Davis. “There are no answers in poetry, or to any of our questions. And yet we keep choosing it, reaching for the unanswerable.”
Davis believes poetry is a way of life. It’s in how she takes her coffee, ties her laces, and interacts within her community. As a spoken word poet and performer, Davis is a public poetic figure. Her video poem “How To Be Alone”, a collaboration with filmmaker Andrea Dorfman, and poetry collection At First, Lonely (published by Acorn Press), are mere testaments to her poetic presence in this city.
For Davis, poetry is a reminder of our humanity, with splashes of inexplicable magic and insight. Poetry is integral to society, a means of thoughtful consideration, and to documenting the evolution of our species. “My role as a poet is to be an observer,” she says. “My job here on the planet is to watch what is going on. Observe it, and report back with my words. That’s my role here.”
For the past 18 months, Davis served as Halifax’s poet laureate. Her role was to be a new voice of poetic counsel in our community. Davis term as poet laureate officially ended in December, though she is still acting as the city’s go to poet until the next poet laureate takes over the reigns. Of her time as poet laureate, Davis’ most affirming and memorable experience was speaking at Raymond Taavel’s vigil last April. She read her poem, “For Raymond, and for all the Raymonds, which is to say: for everyone”---in a time of deep grief, confusion, and devastation, her words offered grace, and comfort. “It was an honour to be poet laureate,” Davis says. “It made me want to be a better poet, and to write better poems.”