Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • February-March 2024 • Circulation 5000


Mikayla Bortscher: Emerging as a Poet and Musician

Mikayla Bortscher. Supplied

Mikayla Bortscher is an emerging poet and musician who worked with Heart of the City, in conjunction with CreArt, to produce this summer’s Heart of the City Youth Stage Live Stream Series.

I asked Mikayla how it went. She said, “We had a lot of really great performers. It went smoothly. It was great collaborating and meeting new people. I got to meet other Edmonton artists.”

The inspiration for Mikayla to become a musician was natural. “Playing harp is something I always wanted to do. It’s kind of just something that’s in me. When I was very little I had a book called Gwinna which had a picture of a girl with a harp. I had a toy harp when I was 12. I saved up my whole life to buy it and I got a little help from my mom. It was only $200 which is still a lot of money and it isn’t a real harp. It only has 20 strings, but I used to play with it all the time. I would spend hours in my yard.”

I asked her what gave her the courage to start playing harp seriously as an adult. “I was on this existential bent because I was entering my first year of university and I realized that I hadn’t done any of the things that I had set out to do when I was a kid. I also realized that I should just go ahead and call a harpist.”

She looked up harpists and found Terry McDade, whose CD she had when she was a kid. “I knew his style. I really liked learning from Terry. He is a great person and a great teacher.”

Mikayla also performed poetry at Heart of the City’s Beat Spoken Word Variety Show. “I write fairly simple forms but I like to use big ideas in my poetry,” she says. “I don’t use big ideas in my songwriting. I have more complex poetry. I find that when people are reading poetry they really want to understand something or they want to learn or hear something, but when someone is listening to a song they don’t always want a message. Sometimes they just want to lay back and listen to a tune.”

In the future Mikayla plans to record an album of music and tour with it. She also says, “I want to teach poetry workshops. I’m hoping to do a Master’s in poetics. I will probably never get a job teaching at a university but I will definitely run workshops around the city. I want to connect poetry and therapy.”

Mikayla performed at the first Heart of the City Live Stream event in early June and was surprised at how many views it got after it was posted online. You can watch the Heart of the City Youth Stage Live Stream series by going to CreArt Edmonton’s Facebook page or checking out @heartcityfest on Facebook.

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. She lives in McCauley.

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