By Blanca Moreno
The Nook Cafe is a small, cozy, newly renovated space in downtown Edmonton where folks can come and enjoy a delicious lavender latte, or for those old enough, a delicious elderberry gin & tonic. Last year on November 7, the cafe hosted the Indie Slam Qualifier competition where qualifiers were competing for nationals to be held in Vancouver this April.
The Breath In Poetry Collective (B.I.P) is an open and accepting community that invites anyone with a knack for poetry slams to come and present at their open mic sessions held every Tuesday at the cafe and has been doing so for a couple years.
These events, like the one held last November, have given way for amazing poets to come out of Edmonton, like Lady Vanessa Cardona, who has been a winner of the National Slam Poetry competition two years in a row. I had the chance of speaking with Lady Vanessa last year before she went to compete in April in Vancouver. Lady Cardona writes from the heart and is someone with such a beautiful soul – something that has evolved through so much pain throughout her journey.
These are the kinds of people who come to the Nook Cafe and share their work; where they know they won’t be judged, and their art will be accepted for what it is: something from the heart. The final slam contestants have not yet been chosen, the poets have been competing for the top spot since February 12th, and the finalists will be chosen on April 9th, where they will then have the chance to represent Edmonton at nationals.
Tuesday evenings at the Nook contain a full room of poets and supporters. Some of the supporters are friends and family of the poets, and others are poets that haven’t built up the courage to present yet.
“Me and my sister have been to a few of these, not only because we love the drinks, and the atmosphere inside this room, but also because I write poetry myself, and love to hear the work of other poets,” Sarah York, a supporter of the slam night, says. “I don’t just come for the poetry, the Nook Cafe has amazing lavender latte’s. What more could a person ask for? Poetry and lattes!”
“I personally can’t believe how much confidence and courage these poets have. I wish I had the balls to go up there. I can’t imagine how much of an adrenaline rush it would be,” Brittany York, another supporter and low-key poet, says.
Among the six presenters was 19-year-old Cat Michaels from P.E.I. She came here a couple months ago to live with her boyfriend and has been attending the open mic nights since she arrived.
“I get my inspiration from life experiences and from my feelings. I started writing when I was in grade 10, so about five years ago,” says Michaels when asked about her poetry.
The B.I.P community is friendly and inviting, you can feel the support they have for one another. The only rule is that when you start to feel something or relate to a poets words you snap your fingers, which adds to the sense of community. Throughout the evening a choir of snapping can be heard.
“I definitely enjoy snapping my fingers. It has a little ring to it!” Sarah York says while snapping and laughing. “I think we need to make the poetry community in YEG even bigger!”
Feature image from the B.I.P website