The Montreal Poetry Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary


It began with a market, Place Gérald-Godin, where you can still read today, next to the Mont-Royal metro station, the Montreal Tangothis great poem by Godin.

Today, the market has become a festival, the Montreal Poetry Festival, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In the meantime, Montreal poetry has become younger and more diverse. The event, which takes place this year from May 26 to June 2, focuses on discoveries and reunions between different generations of poets. At the helm of several publishing houses, the oldest have given way to the youngest. “I think that poetry has taken a better place in the sun in recent years, especially thanks to poets like Joséphine Bacon or Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, who tour a lot with poetry,” says Catherine Cormier-Larose, who replaced Isabelle Courteau at the helm of the festival. She also mentions the case of the poet Marjolaine Beauchamp, who appeared on stage in the first part of Richard Desjardins' show.

“For the festival, we tried to invite poets from almost all the years of the festival, to mix the new, the innovative and the poetry that we have been hearing for a long time but that is constantly evolving. Afterwards, we will do a poster exhibition on the Quai des Mignes,” she continues.

Poet Diane Régimbald has been involved since the beginning. Today, she notes, the program offers more room for diversity. “It's also about creating a Montreal signature that is different from the Trois-Rivières poetry festival,” she says.

Touch new environments

On May 29th this year, the Maison de la culture Claude-Léveillée will present an anthology of Quebec poets in French and Arabic, published by a Tunisian publisher. The idea came from the director of the international poetry festival in Sidi Bou Saïd in Tunisia, who recently received a delegation of five Quebec poets. “It is certain that translation into Arabic will enable Quebec poets to reach a new environment,” says Catherine Cormier-Larose.

The Great Evening of Poetry on May 30th at the Sala Rossa will then be the opportunity to award the International Francophone Prize of the Montreal Poetry Festival (PFIFPM). The event will be hosted by Marilou Craft and Elyze Venne-Deshaies, accompanied by seven poets. The Video Poetry Rendezvous, a competition open to the general public, will present the creations of the 12 finalists who took part in the competition at the Kino Moderne. We will take the opportunity to present the Ancrages project. “It is a cinematic montage of eight poets from the black community reading unpublished texts,” says the director.

In a lecture with Nicholas Dawson, Fiorella Boucher, Moira-Uashteskun Bacon and Maxime Catellier at the La Livrerie bookstore, the influence of the mother tongue on poetic writing will be examined.

To mark the festival's quarter century, a projection of selected poems will be projected onto the wall of the Grande Bibliothèque. The event will conclude with the Poetry Market from May 31 to June 2 on Place Gérald-Godin.

Catherine Cormier-Larose says that during tours she has noticed “that the farmers read a lot of poetry. Some read one or two poems while working in the fields.” […] There is something about poetry that can touch everyone and that allows you to integrate yourself into the poem. Unlike a novel, where the whole story is in front of you. Poetry can be appropriated. »

In 2023, according to Bilan Gaspard's book sales data, poetry accounted for 0.8% of books sold in Quebec, behind novels at 11.4% but ahead of essays at 0.6%.

For Diane Régimbald, the poetry market is doing “relatively” well. “Now we are reprinting poetry volumes. That wasn't so common before. I notice that it's happening much more often now. There's a real dynamism. People are very interested. And we see that in the bookstores too: when we have an event, lots of people come,” she says.

Montreal Poetry Festival

From May 26 to June 2.

To watch in video