April, 2022

Words Aloud Beyond 2021:
A Word from Interim Artistic Director Richard-Yves Sitoski

Words Aloud is at a crossroads. Or rather, Words Aloud finds itself merging into a multi-lane traffic circle in whose lanes we variously find COVID, racial reckoning, the environment, economic instability, political turmoil, the insecurity of arts funding, and a plethora of other juggernauts with the hammer down. What is a rural poetry festival to do? We have thought long and hard about this, and while it's too early to announce firm plans, we can tell you how we intend to get out of this roundabout.

Just a few weeks before Covid-19 upended all of our lives and plans, the WA committee had already come together to decide that the festival would benefit from some fairly radical restructuring. Some of the decisions made then have since been adjusted as a result of the current crisis. These changes are explained below—and please bear in mind that everything that follows is provisional. We want to remain flexible and adaptable to our ever-changing circumstances.

First, scheduling and location. We are taking a hiatus through 2021, with plans to hold our next live, in-person event in April 2022. Right now, it is impossible to predict the future of live events, but it's a safe bet that things are unlikely to ease up any time soon. We want to be certain that the event will be able to go ahead as planned safely, without fear of cancellation or last-minute adjustments. Moreover, the festival will be held in the Spring, in late April, to coincide with Poetry Month and related events, as well as to take advantage of the weather. At this time we are planning to hold these events and associated activities mostly in the Owen Sound area.

Second, in keeping with our decision to include more diverse ancillary activities, the Words Aloud Spoken Word and Storytelling Festival will now be known as Words Aloud. This is reflective of our role as locus for all things poetic, including projects which will help the streamlined festival maintain creative momentum over the hiatus. We are making plans for fundraisers, publications, contests, online events and limited live events while we prepare for April 2022.

Third, we are happy to announce the further solidification of our partnership with the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library as the Words Aloud charitable sponsor. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.

Finally, Words Aloud will be under new administration. Former WA committee members have moved on to embrace new challenges, and we wish them every success: their accomplishments with the festival attest to their boundless energy and unlimited skill. Fortunately, some have agreed to assist the festival in an advisory capacity. For this we are thankful, as their experience and knowledge will go a long way toward maintaining the viability of the new Words Aloud. As of this writing, Yvonne Pelletier will be the Interim Coordinating Director, Carolin Brooks will be the Library Liaison, and I shall be Interim Artistic Director. We look forward to working with the library to add new committee members and welcome back past committee members interested in helping us shape the festival for the years to come. Current expressions of interest for committee and volunteer roles with the festival are always welcome. Please address all inquiries to r_sitoski@yahoo.ca.

It is our mission to navigate the confusion of the current roundabout to bring you the finest poetry by some of the most dynamic practitioners of oral and literary arts. In times of crisis, verse becomes all the more important. It is, I am convinced, the thing that will save our spirits. It helps us, to paraphrase Mary Oliver, to create the world every morning. We are looking forward to seeing what we can create—and we hope you'll join us as we evolve. Watch this space!

Discover

Learn more about the history of our fascinating festival.

Study

Check out this brilliant classroom learning resource featuring video performances by 14 of Canada’s best poets and storytellers.

Videos

Words Aloud has filmed virtually all of its guest artists, resulting in a treasure trove of poetry in performance over almost two decades. We invite you to browse this superb archive at our YouTube channel.