Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • June-July 2024 • Circulation 5000


Lady Vanessa Cardona: “Every poet is a prophet, every word is a prayer.”

Lady Vanessa Cardona. Supplied

Lady Vanessa Cardona, a current Boyle Street resident, has performed poetry with Heart of the City since the inaugural year of The Beat Spoken Word Stage.

She says that Boyle Street “is one of those neighbourhoods that is very family-friendly. There is a lot that you see that is just kind of right in your face, and some other things that inspire you to create community. Interestingly, these types of neighbourhoods make me want to ask a lot of questions about myself and where I come from. I left Cali, Colombia at the age of 9 and I’ve developed memory loss. Places like Boyle Street and events like the Heart of the City Festival, where I was given gigs to do my poetry about who I was and what I was learning, helped a lot with the remembrance back into myself.”

In addition to being a stellar poet and Edmonton’s Slam Champion in 2019, Lady Vanessa is also a writer, director, actor, and musician. When I asked her if she considers herself an artist, she said, “That question is pretty funny because I think that everyone is an artist, everyone is a writer, everyone is the creator of their own story. We are born under different circumstances, but we all create our stories. I do think that everyone is an artist in that way. I think what makes me different is that I have been paid and been able to make a living out of my art and I have invested in artistic ways of sharing with the world parts of myself.”

I asked Lady about her plays Three Ladies and the Sterling Award-winning play, Whiteface. “Whiteface is a show that I co-created with my business partner, friend, and brother Todd Houseman,” she explains. “The show itself is about cultural appropriation and the dangers and the damage that it can do to indigenous descendants of Turtle Island and Abya Yala. The play has masks, it’s got quirky dark humour and comedy, and interpretive dance.” The play has been transformed into a 10-minute film you can watch here:

Three Ladies is a show that Lady Vanessa wrote, produced, and performed in, while managing the whole team. “It was a show about me observing my healing journey of having been a refugee who fled my land, and deals with childhood sexual abuse,” she says.

The play is also about healing one’s inner child. “Where Lady in the flesh narrated the person of herself, she stood with my inner child. She narrated my shadows, which need a lot of healing. The voices we hear in our heads tell us lies or truths depending on which voices we are hearing. We need to learn how to reprogram our mind, hearing, and thoughts. Your thoughts are prayers. I always say: every poet is a prophet, every word is a prayer.”

Lady Vanessa is currently working on new material, as well as workshops on inner child and shadow work. She also has workshops on poetry and theatre. For bookings, contact Lady Vanessa at In addition, you can follow her on Facebook (search for Lady Vanessa Cardona) and on Instagram @LaDragonaLady.

Corine Demas serves as volunteer President and Spoken Word Director of the Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton. Corine is passionate about poetry, storytelling, and her city, Edmonton.

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