Councillor Norma Blissett is throwing down the gauntlet in response to a challenge from Calgary’s Mayor to recognize World Poetry Day on March 21st.
The challenge, issued from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, includes inviting a local poet to read a literary work at the start of a council meeting in March or April.
Raised at a council meeting in late February, city staff have arranged for Astarte Sellars to appear as a delegation to the March 21 council meeting to read a poem written by ManWoman, her late husband.
Hearing one of ManWoman’s poems was the first thing that came to Blissett’s mind after the challenge was issued, as she had previously been to a Cranbrook and District Arts Council function where one of his pieces were featured.
“I was so impressed and then when we got the correspondence from Mayor Nenshi, challenging us to the poetry challenge, I thought ‘Well, here it is.’,” Blissett said. “We’ve got a world class poet in our midst and I think it’s important to celebrate it.
“ManWoman was certainly celebrated for his other forms of art, but I don’t think that everybody is aware of what a talent he had in writing poetry.
It really gave us a forum to bring that forward here in council.”
ManWoman passed away in 2012, but left his legacy of artistic expression through his work, which has an international reputation.
His visual art has been recognized as pioneering and unique, utilizing symbols like the Bride, Mr. Death and the Swastika, which he featured prominently as part of a campaign to rescue the symbol from the stigma attached to it by the German Nazi Party in the 1930s.
However, Blissett said not many people are familiar with his written poetry, which Sellars will showcase when she appears before city council in two weeks.
“She has a number of ManWoman’s writing so she’s selected one of those to read out as a delegation. Because we’re televised, it gives us a good forum for promoting that,” Blissett said. “I do think council has a role in promoting the arts in Cranbrook.”
Mayor Nenshi’s challenge was issued to all communities in Canada. Last year, Fernie, Nelson and Vernon were the closest communities in relation to Cranbrook to participate in the challenge.