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Pandora’s Collective group promotes creative self expression through poetry


 Reported by Michele Paulse

Author Chelsea Comeau has been attending a open mic poetry night for the past five years because reading her poems to an audience and listening to the work of other poets inspires her writing — and has helped her through a difficult time.

Chelsea Comeau reads poetry at the Twisted Poets Literary Salon. Photo by Michele Paulse.

Comeau, who has been writing poetry for 19 years, is not the only one to gain strength from the collective poetry series. Every week, poets from the Pandora’s Collective group share their poems in an open mic stage in the Twisted Poets Literary Salon event at Cottage Bistro.

Award-winning poet expresses herself through writing 

“Sharing my poetry is therapeutic. It gets me writing because I like to bring new stuff every time I read,” said the 29-year-old at last week’s session.

Comeau’s work What You Leave Behind won a Leaf Press award in an Overleaf chapbook manuscript competition in 2015. The collection of poems are about the loss of her uncle, who committed suicide.

The salon is part of Pandora’s Collective, an initiative that promotes literacy and individual expression that began the poets series in 2002. The event is one of six programs the community-centred organization offers.

Daniel Scott at the Twisted Poets Literary Salon. Photo by Michele Paulse.

Poetry helps those battling addiction 

The collective also runs poetry workshops for adults undergoing alcohol and drug rehabilitation in Pacifica Treatment Centre. Workshop participants brainstorm ideas and write poetry about many different topics, and have a chance to share it to the rest of the group.

“Poetry and the arts are very flexible and very malleable so they can be many things to many people,” said Edward Epp, an artist and counsellor who attends the series.

Leanne Boschmann, a writing teacher and series co-host who has been going to the event for two years, said the salon gives poets a chance to read their work in an unrestricted space.

“This is a place where people can tell their stories and there’s no censorship,” she said.

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