CanLitScape is a Canadian not-for-profit organization
whose mission is to promote and celebrate creative writing in all forms.

Poets & Storytellers 2021

Nisha Patel, Edmonton

Nisha Patel is an award-winning queer and disabled artist. She was the City of Edmonton’s 8th Poet Laureate, and the 2019 Canadian Individual Slam Champion. She is a recipient of the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund Award and the University of Alberta Alumni Award of Excellence. Her debut collection COCONUT is available now at Glass Bookshop.
Photo credit: Timiro Mohamed

Poem: this place is a love song

this place is a love song,
a changing season’s memoire, a passage of time, 
captured in buildings and the businessman’s dreams,
compressed into the veins on a leaf that fell from a sapling, grew into a looming shadow
watching over the lost shoes and deepening salt
on streets where the houses were raised with the children, nurtured old, broken and washed
down to their skeletons to be brought to life again in the new money’s reimagining of old
charm, and in the old money’s sleeping burrow
the grandparents and the regulars mix skin to skin with the faces straining
to stay supple in the sun’s warmest squeeze
pushing strollers and shopping carts noisy and transitory,
a taken favour and a broken promise
that will one day see itself sleeping next to the ripped rubber
of old tires and laundry machines
the background pieces of life that form the unfinished puzzle of living in a place
and never finding its center until you see yourself in it
and reminiscing what tomorrow will look like, who will greet her
what notes will punctuate her bodied verse from the doorway of every place
that remembers where it comes from and where it has yet to go


this place is a love song and you,
with your grandmother’s bones
under these crowding tree-lanes, did you wander?
hear her footfalls in your fingertips as they skimmed the rusted railings
on the children’s abandoned playgrounds, did the street lights slimming
themselves over your young-aged body guide you past the trimmed fences
muddied pavement cracks sneaking up your spine, the history of your
heart’s hunger marbling across your back in the shape of a shaking treble clef
when the dirt beneath the cement and storm drains sung a newcomer’s tune
as you skipped to a fresh home down an old path
traced only in the chalk-dust of the last generation’s hop-scotch
their tree-root landings, the way they gripped themselves
into this neighborhood with a fear of impermanence, and opened their petals still
for new growth, for now, for this moment, for you and your family forthcoming
the ones waiting patiently somewhere between gut and craving
this place is a love song, written in the flashes and minutes
spent embracing life from birthplace to gravestone
and it wants you to know that you, are welcome here

Nisha Patel