2008 Montreal Public Poetry Festival

The Montreal Public Poetry Festival/Festival de Poésie Publique de Montréal

September 26 – 28, 2008

“Pure Lines”

Under the auspices of The Foundation for Public Poetry/Fondation Poésie Publique, this open application poetry festival offers poets an opportunity to highlight their work before a live, enthusiastic audience.

The festival is somewhat like theatre fringe-festivals, in that poets apply, pay an entry fee, and receive 100% of proceeds from tickets sales to their performance. Poets are not judged or evaluated prior to being accepted, allowing for a great diversity of voices to be heard.

8 Responses to “2008 Montreal Public Poetry Festival”

  1. poet Says:

    I came to your website after getting an e-mail from Stephanie Bolster that announced the festival. I think it’s a great idea. Then I read your website and was confused: poets pay 50 dollars to participate? I hope I have somehow misunderstood your rather confusing website. Maybe a rewrite is in order?

    Poets are notoriously poor, even those of us who are published and working in, say, academia. So 50 dollars means a poet has to sell at least five trade publications to break even. And even more if they are an emerging poet with a chapbook. If you know the wonderfully active but stingy poetry crowd I know, you know how unlikely selling more than a couple of books or chapbooks would be no matter how successful the reading. Charging applicants just doesn’t seem like the best way to begin a poetry festival. I sincerely hope I am wrong. I wish you the best of luck and I do hope you get some names.

  2. publicpoetry Says:

    Thank you for your comment anonymous poet.

    The idea of paying to present your work comes from the Fringe Festival experience. The format allows anyone to come forward, pay a small fee, and get on stage. Poets may be stingy, they may even be poor, but this format allows poets to pay $50, establish their own ticket price(from $5 to $10,) invite friends, family and strangers, and possibly end up getting paid for the reading–if more than 10 people are present. If 30 people should attend, then the poet will profit $100 if the ticket price is set at $5. If the poet sets his or her ticket price at $10 and 30 people attend, then the poet will reap $250.

    The Festival provides advance publicity in order to draw people to the readings, and hopefully the poets(if not well-known) will invite everyone they know.

    It’s true, some poets may pay $50 and receive only a single audience member. But this is likely the rare exception. But honestly, if an academic cannot afford $50, either poetry is not of significant value to them, or they should strike for higher wages.

    This festival hopes to bring out the creative, entrepreneurial spirit that resides…

    “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”
    – Robert Graves.

  3. Anne Says:

    I agree with the anonymous poet that $50 is a large amount of money for
    us poets struggling to write and earn some money to pay our rent.
    I have been writing for 25 years and have published several books but
    sadly I also noticed that only a handful of people will buy books at readings
    or even none.
    I like the idea that you provide publicity and a location but it seems
    odd that the poet herself must set an entry price and hope people show up.
    I am not familiar with the fringe theater so may be out of the loop on this
    kind of way to do things. Perhaps if you made it $25 it would attract a lot
    more poets and not those who are in academia for example (which I am not). Thank you.

  4. S. Says:

    This is a marvelous concept. A poetry festival much like the Fringe Festival. Multi-venues. Crowds appreciating poetry. A ‘buzz’ around language. Absolutely a brilliant concept. I wish you the best.

    One suggestion: Start small with perhaps one venue for the first year? With an emphasis on multimedia poetry performance (video/music/dance, etc…) so the potential audience imagines possibilities of something new?

  5. S. Says:

    good lord. that smiley face was not intended. please ditch that and put one of these


    after etc…

  6. Chris Masson Says:

    This is a great idea for someone like me. In addition to having some books to sell, I put a lot fo energy into performance. I entertain people with my readings, and so I am sure that I can make some money charging $5 at the door, regardless of how many books I might sell.

    Being familiar with the Canadian Fringe circuit, I would add that this festival is actually much more generous. This appliation fee is actually 90% cheaper and there are no service fees added onto your ticket prices.

    This is in my opinion a great opportunity for $50. If you feel that you can’t get returns on a $50 investment in your performance, then this is not the venue for you. A bookstore might be just what you are looking for :)

    I do like the suggestion of an emphasis on multimedia too…

  7. jan Says:

    I agree that it is rough to come up with $50 for twenty minutes of performance time – but there is the three sessions for $100 option – which I plan to sign up for with two friends… then the cost is $33 per person and
    this way we share and hour and a half… less time for shifting audiences, etc.

  8. Matt Says:

    I created a Facebook “event” for the festival:


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