Kwantlen Poetry Project hosted Nisha Patel, an award-winning Indo-Canadian poet and artist, at the Surrey campus on Feb. 5.
Patel is the City of Edmonton’s Poet Laureate and the 2019 Canadian Individual Slam Champion. She has received the Edmonton’s Artists’ Trust Fund Award and is the Executive Director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival.
Patel’s poems are often written about subjects like race, feminism, and identity. She takes on meaning through her life and struggles as a woman of colour which she expresses through poetry.
“My work speaks to a lot of stories, issues, and topics that many students may not have had access to growing up,” Patel says. “I think I represent a lot of people who might have been searching for truth-telling in my work.”
Patel is an alumna of the University of Alberta School of Business. However, she found her passion for poetry and strives to pursue a career in the artistic community.
“My background in university was in business and political science,” Patel says. “Right when I was leaving university, I saw a [poetry] performance …. I was so moved by this that I thought to myself, ‘That’s something I want to try to do, to move people and affect change.’”
Patel has performed over 75 shows around the world, from Glasgow to Seoul, since 2015.
“I met Nisha last year at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam,” says Kwantlen Poetry Project team member Chelsea Franz. “I was super engaged with her work and her words.”
Patel shares her experiences in hopes that the audience will be able to better understand her perspective and experiences.
“As women, we have been taught that people are not going to listen unless we force our way into the room,” she says.
“It is nice to have other brown poet voices in the community,” says Franz. “Anyone that you see that can represent where you come from becomes a symbol of what can be achieved.”
Another one of Patel’s goals is to help build strong relationships, mentorships, and opportunities for artists and non-artists alike.
“When you tell someone the truth, there is an undeniable bond that you form with [that] person,” she says. “Poetry is a mechanism for truth-telling and brings people closer because of the quality.”