This Sunday – April 21, 2013 – is the first day of the 2013 edition of Edmonton’s Poetry Festival. The Festival runs for eight days, concluding on Sunday April 28th. In those eight days lay some of the best words you’re likely to hear this year. Poets Laureate from across this great nation will be converging in Edmonton to celebrate the written and spoken word. Next week, Edmonton hosts a Word Nation, and it may be unprecedented.

Why is poetry important? Does poetry matter? Those are questions asked often of poets.

Of all our inventions, all of those beautiful and useless and essential and terrible devices we have brought into the world, language and writing are perhaps the most important. They are how our history is recorded and passed on. They hold parts of us that we cannot. Language and expression define us as a species, and words are among our most cherished gifts. At its ideal, poetry is our best lunge at truth. Trickery and argument aside, poetry is a way for us to know ourselves. And that is worth celebrating.

Next week, don’t ignore your words. In fact, starting now, don’t ignore your words. Keep your word, because you have nothing else. Be mindful of what you let escape your pen or lips. Consider your shortcuts, shorthands, tells. You write and speak for a living, even if you think you don’t.

See you on the streets next week. What are you planning to see?