Youth Poetry to take centre stage at Jam Street

Attendees listen to a youth poet recite one of their creations during a Write Out Loud Open Mic Night in Saskatoon. The organization has scheduled a similar event in Prince Albert in preparation for a new youth poetry festival scheduled for July 5-8, 2024. -- Submitted photo.

Young poets will have a chance to recite their work for a live audience as a province-wide series of Youth Poetry Open Mic Nights arrives in Prince Albert.

Jam Street Shared Spaces will host the second of four Write Out Loud open mic nights on Tuesday. Event organizer and Write Out Loud director Dash Reimer said they’re excited to have the event up and running.

“Youth poetry, it’s always so beautiful and honest,” Reimer said during an interview on Monday. “The youth are feeling just as big emotions as any adult, and they are just learning to form the words to exactly express through metaphor—or whatever it might be—how they’re feeling.

“It’s one thing to give kids a journal (and) let them write in their own room, but it’s another thing—and I think it’s also just as beautiful—to give them a space to share that.”

Write Out Loud hosted their first Open Mic Night in Moose Jaw a few weeks ago, and has two more shows scheduled for Swift Current and North Battleford. Reimer said they are always hosting events in Regina and Saskatoon, but wanted to start connecting with artists in some of the province’s smaller cities.

These events are building up to Write Out Loud’s inaugural Skribe Youth Poetics Festival scheduled for July 5-8 in Saskatoon.

“Write Out Loud is really dedicated to building youth community within the literary arts,” Reimer explained. “I think there are so many young writers out there with brilliant voices, and not all of the different cities around Saskatchewan have youth poetry scenes, or sometimes even just poetry scenes period….

“Because we’re running that (Skribe Youth Poetics) this summer we want to do some shows around the province to make sure youth outside of Saskatoon—where we normally run our events—know what’s happening and feel welcomed into the scene.”

Tuesday’s show has time for 12-15 poets max. Each poet will have five minutes to recite a piece of poetry. Local youth between the ages of 13 and 25 can sign up at the door to participate.

Reimer will also be performing some of his own material during the show. He said open mic nights and youth poetry festivals were vital in his journey to becoming a professional artist, and he hopes they can provide a boost for the next generation of poets.

“When I was a youth I went to Ottawa for youth Can Slam. It was an national youth poetry festival, and then I took some other youth back in the day to Toronto for Voices of Today, which ran for, I think, two or three years,” he said. “Neither of them are running currently, and so we were wanting to do something similar but a little bit smaller scale.”

Reimer said spoken word poetry is one of the most accessible art forms because artist don’t need to pay for expensive supplies or spaces to create it. However, finding a venue to showcase it can be more challenging. He said he’s grateful for spaces like Jam Street in Prince Albert, who can give those events a home.

“They’re an awesome partner to work with,” Reimer said.

The Write Out Loud Youth Poetry Oepn Mic Night begins at 7 p.m. at Jam Street Shared Spaces on Tuesday, April 16.

The Skribe Youth Poetics Festival provides free workshops and performances for youth ages 13-25 who register. Residents who do not fall within that age category can still attend, but will have to pay a small fee.

The festival is open to youth poets in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. Reimer said they’ll be announcing the line-up quite soon.