Word On the Street Poets Announced

  • Word On the Street poems being sandblasted into a sidewalk. Agnieszka Matejko

During May, 70 poems were sandblasted into sidewalks along 95 Street and 107A Avenue behind the Intercultural Centre (former McCauley School), along 96 Street and 105 Avenue by the Post Office, and by the Garden of Truth at 108 Avenue and 97 Street. They were selected as part of the Word On the Street project, which was led by artist and writer Agnieszka Matejko.

Submissions were solicited through a community postcard mail out, mentions in Boyle McCauley News, and through various schools and organizations. The selected poems were chosen by a jury made up of people from community organizations and individuals representing the diversity of the area. “I am deeply grateful to all the poets who took the time to submit and to write honest, moving, or, at times, funny poetry. As an artist, I know how vulnerable we are when we show our work to others. It takes courage to submit artwork and I am honoured that so many people expressed trust in this project,” says Matejko, who adds that there were many more poems the jury liked, but limited funds did not allow for all of them to be sandblasted.

Matejko was inspired to do this project through a long-term friendship with a homeless man who would take photos of the inner city and send them to her, adding his own comments. “His comments were so moving and articulate, that I thought that they deserved to be immortalized on the streets where he lived. For this reason, I began to work with communities to feature submissions from children, youth, and really anyone who has an interest in writing. I hope that this project brings to light the talent in the McCauley community and leaves a lasting legacy of many diverse voices.”

She names numerous moments during the sourcing of submissions as ones which will stick with her. “I was deeply touched by the many poems submitted by the women at the Hope Mission, Wellspring, by the community members at Mustard Seed, among many others. Many submissions came from people who had never written a poem before in their lives and their work was not just good, but moved me to the core. Many participants said that from now on they plan to write and start submitting poetry to magazines and festivals. Being accepted meant that they gained confidence in their abilities and realized that they were as capable as anyone with a degree. That was my dream and the motivation behind this project: poetry by well known and established area poets is sandblasted right next to work by children, marginalized communities and people whose voices have never been heard.”

Matejko is deeply grateful to all of the community partners that made Word On the Street a reality:

“First of all, I would like to thank the Canada Council New Chapter grant who made this project possible. Without them it would not have happened.

E4C was absolutely instrumental in making this project a reality. They helped to submit various grants, supported the project through letters, organized some of the workshops, connected me to the community and took ownership of the project as the city requires that a community organization is listed in city records. Without them, none of this would have been possible.

The McCauley Community League was also very supportive. They created an advisory committee that met with me several times and gave feedback on locations and responded to any questions I had. They also wrote endless letters of support to allow us to apply for grants and sandblasting permits. I am very grateful to them for the time they took on this project.

The City of Edmonton also contributed greatly. This was a complex project and we are still not finished as we are waiting for the permits for the plaques to go through. Heather O’Hearn (Community Recreation Coordinator) and Jane Molstad (McCauley Revitalization Coordinator) met with me many times and were incredibly patient and tolerant of my stress levels. I say that with a smile but am genuinely grateful as I was discouraged at times and they kept me going though their support.

There were also many other area organizations that made this project possible. I don’t want to make it sound like they were the last and least important. A project like this simply can’t happen without community involvement. I am deeply grateful that these organizations supported the project by allowing me or area writers to come in and work with students or clients. They include:

Boys and Girls Club
Norwood School
St. Alphonsus Catholic Junior High School
St. Teresa of Calcutta Elementary School
Victoria School Of the Arts
Hope Mission Wellspring, 
Bissell Centre 
Mustard Seed 
Boyle Street Community Services
 St Josaphat’s Senior’s Home
Mile Zero
Prosper Place Clubhouse

Finally, Leif Gregersen did a lot of work to advertise the project in the community. He was hired to do this but he went over and above his salary to spread the word. I am deeply grateful to him for his dedication and interest in the project.”

Word On the Street Poets

Intercultural Centre Location
(Children’s names are not listed but their contribution is credited under the school or organization name.)
Jalal Barzanji
Emma Campbell-Huxley
Rhonda Cardinal
Yvonne Chiu
Sara Coumantarakis
Lana Dorward
Gary Garrison
Haven Garth
Leif Gregersen
Paula E. Kirman
Hannah Lister
Christel E. Travnik
Yael Neville
Kennedy Olson
Sharon Pasula
Dominik Royko
Edward Sarginson
Jamie Stewart
Rainer Stratkotter
Susie Winters
Boys and Girls Club
Norwood School
St. Alphonsus Catholic Junior High School
St. Teresa of Calcutta Elementary School
Victoria School Of the Arts

Post Office Location
Larry Anderson
Megan Atwood
Patrick Bain
Robert Burniston
Jessica Davis
Lana Dorward
Linda Dumont
Eileen Gilchrist
Gordon Hayne
Paula E. Kirman
Heather Lee
Bruce Littlechilds
Hannah Lister
Lenoose Martial
Audria Norberg
Dominik Royko
Katrina Smy
Rebecca Sockbeson
Susie Winters

Truth Garden Location
Margaret Roberts
Rochelle Sato
Pearl Sharphead
Dylon Sparklingeyes

More in this issue

Neighbourhood Views

  • Harbin Gate Memories – Memories written about the Harbin Gate hang on the fence where it was removed for Valley Line LRT construction. Paula E. Kirman

  • New Community Space at Bissell Centre – Ryan Arcand presents Gary St. Amand, CEO of Bissell Centre, an eagle staff at the grand opening of Bissell Centre’s new community space in its west building, on June 11. The drop-in has improved access to basic needs and support services. Paula E. Kirman  

  • Graffiti Artists at Work – Graffiti artists made original creations during Hip Hop in the Park on May 26 at Boyle Street Plaza. Paula E. Kirman

  • Editor Receives Award from ESPC – Boyle McCauley News Editor Paula E. Kirman received the Edmonton Social Planning Council’s Award of Merit for Advocacy of Social Justice on May 24. She is pictured between ESPC Research Coordinator John Kolkman and his wife Kate Quinn, both McCauley residents and founders of the paper. Melissa Scott

  • Portrait of a Caterpillar – Gord Currie is an Ambrose Place resident who has taken up photography to cope with the challenges in his life. Here is an example of his work. He says that he has gone from “poverty to photography” and gives credit for this photo “to the caterpillar for being a good subject.” Gord Currie

  • MUSE Awards – The Edmonton Muse, an online magazine dealing with local art, culture, and music, celebrated its first anniversary on May 25. As part of the celebration at the Starlite Room, awards were handed out to several Edmontonians making a difference. Boyle McCauley News Editor Paula E. Kirman was the first recipient for her involvement in a number of volunteer, non-profit groups. Marissa Loewen

  • MUSE Awards – The Edmonton Muse, an online magazine dealing with local art, culture, and music, celebrated its first anniversary on May 25. As part of the celebration at the Starlite Room, awards were handed out to several Edmontonians making a difference. One of the recipients was Sinder Sparks, founder of The Musical Mamas Society, a group of women musicians from in and around the area. Paula E. Kirman

Around the Neighbourhood

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We are always looking for new writers and photographers, as well as ideas for future stories. We also regularly need block carriers to help with the delivery and distribution of the paper. Email Paula with your submissions, feedback, ideas, and availability. We also ask that contributors read our Editorial Guidelines and that all volunteers read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

Next Issue . . .

Our next issue is September. Articles and photos concerning community news, events, and opinions are welcome. We also encourage submissions of poetry, and cartoons (in JPG or PDF format). Deadline: August 12. Send submissions to: editor@bmcnews.org. Articles should be 400 words or less and accompanied by photographs (JPG, in high resolution) when possible.