UESA sells student-run journal, takes part in Ottawa’s annual poetry festival
Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff
OTTAWA’S OWN POETRY festival was well-received by members of the University of Ottawa’s literary community this year.
For the first time, the Undergraduate English Students’ Association (UESA) had its own student-run publication, Ottawa Arts Review (OAR), available for sale at the merchandizing table at VERSeFEST and at least one member of the UESA executive stepped up to give a performance at the weeklong event.
The third annual poetry festival was held this year from March 12–17 at the Knox Presbyterian Church. The event is hosted by VERSe Ottawa, a collective of 14 poetry-reading series from around the city.
“We have gone from a local and Canadian festival to an international one,” said Rod Pederson, managing director for VERSe Ottawa. “We’ve had poets from Mexico, the States, Australia, Ireland, Holland, all coming to Ottawa to read and take part in the festival.”
Pederson said the festival is bringing the world of poetry back to Ottawa. He pointed out the festival’s book table, where the OAR was sold, was particularly noteworthy.
“Calling it a book table is probably an understatement; it’s probably the biggest poetry book store in Ontario right now,” he said. “So you can come and have a beer, or a pop, water, or wine, and listen to some great poetry. Some of the events have been just mesmerizing.”
Mia Morgan, editor-in-chief of the OAR and vp literary of the UESA, performed at the festival for the second year in a row. She said that although the UESA was not directly involved with the planning of the festival, she herself is very involved in the spoken word community of the city and thought it was important that U of O students be exposed to the festival.
Morgan performed in the first-ever women’s poetry slam last year, which was oversold. At this year’s festival, the UESA purchased 10 tickets for U of O students.
“U of O does currently have a pretty good literary scene,” said Morgan. “There are a couple of clubs and stuff that are involved, but there is always room for improvement.”
Morgan commended the efforts of VERSeFEST in bringing together spoken and written poetry, which she said are often kept divided. She also acknowledged the English creative writing club, the UESA, the OAR, the uOttawa Poetry Slam Club, and available scholarships as strong foundations of the university’s literary community.
“There’s a lot of involvement in the literary scene on campus,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting people to collaborate, and we can do bigger things.”