It’s no secret that our city is home to a vast artistic community, one that includes the Montreal’s vibrant poetry scene. In fact, this is one of the reasons Rachel McCrum first established herself here in 2017!
Who is Rachel McCrum?
After spending a few years establishing her career in poetry and performance throughout Scotland, Irish-born poet, performer and arts educator, Rachel McCrum, is now based right here in our vibrant city.
“I’m endlessly fascinated by the diversity that’s here, by the immigrant voices,” said McCrum. “It’s Montreal. It’s this multilingual city where there’s this incredible wave of translation. I think there’s an incredible wave of female voices and feminist poetry.”
“It’s a fantastically exciting place to be a poet.”
McCrum got involved with a poetry collective during her time in Scotland. From there, she began to live for poetry and spoken word. Dedicated to this artistic way of life, it didn’t take long before she started making a career out of it. McCrum is well decorated in accomplishments and awards on the poetry scene: she is the recipient of the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, a published author as well as the first BBC Scotland Poet in Residence.
Now based in Montreal, McCrum is well rooted in the local poetry scene. She is involved in many literary events, festivals and workshops.
When asked why she chose Montreal, McCrum answered by saying “for love and poetry.”
Aside from love and poetry, McCrum aims to build community and connection. “I want to build some new opportunities for people to talk to each other and work together again,” she said.
Looking forward, the artist is optimistic for what’s to come once COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease. “There’s going to be a hunger for genuine new work, new opportunities and new encounters, and I’d like to be part of that,” she said. “There’s going to be an explosion of good stuff.”
Rachel McCrum’s First Published Collection
The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate is McCrum’s first published collection. The book takes a look at migration, displacement and the mechanics of movement. McCrum’s life, her move to Scotland and the question of national identity, reflect these themes.
In addition, the collection also has strong feminist ties to it. McCrum hops from sea journeys to voices of women, all with a focus on what it means to raise your voice.
“What does it mean to use your voice? What is that act of displacement that comes from opening your mouth and putting words out there? Particularly what does that mean for a woman?” said McCrum when talking about the focus of her book.
Not only is McCrum fascinated by Montreal’s multilingual aspect, she is also embracing it. The poet’s collection has since been published as a bilingual book, Le premier coup de clairon pour réveiller les femmes immorales, where her poems are both in English and in French.
McCrum feels releasing a completed body of work into the world allows her to move on to her next projects. This is exactly what she is doing. In addition to her freelance work and other involvements in the poetry scene, McCrum is working on three new projects.
McCrum on Montreal’s Vibrant Poetry Scene
McCrum is the current curator of the Atwater Poetry Project, a reading series that brings poets together. Despite having moved online, the series is still as strong as ever.
The Atwater Poetry Project hosts curated conversations and readings, and allows poetry lovers to experience poetry in real time, rather than remotely or in a book.
This Poetry Project is a great place to get involved for anyone curious about what’s going on in poetry in the today’s context. “It is a very low-touch way to engage and you might just hear something that grabs your heart,” said McCrum.
The Atwater Poetry Project keeps poetry alive in Montreal through its affordable (free) and accessible series. More events are coming up soon so be sure to check out their Facebook page or their Crowdcast to get involved!
Additionally, McCrum is also the co-director of the Mile End Poets’ Festival. The festival usually takes place in the summer around the Plateau and Mile-End area. The various events consist of a number of shows mostly focused on poetry. However, the festival allows space for crossovers in genres of music, film and dance.
“The aim is to bring the community together,” said McCrum. “There’s that opportunity for people to come together and showcase new work and experience new poets.”
There’s a significant importance in having spaces for events such as these in Montreal, it allows our great arts scene to flourish. “It’s how writers develop, it’s how they find community, how they learn from listening to each other and how they find new audiences,” said McCrum. “It’s an essential part of any art scene.”
More of Montreal’s Vibrant Art Scene
Montreal’s arts scene is as dynamic as always and we are happy to have talented artists like Rachel McCrum be part of it.
Finally, for more art activities around Montreal, be sure to check out the May edition of Art & the City.
Journalism student at Concordia University and travel enthusiast. Passionate about music, poetry, and getting to know the stories of new individuals- especially those inspired by their art. Olivia aims to create connections through her love of writing by sharing experiences and stories.