The Edmonton Poetry Festival board is working on a transition for the organization’s staff structure, as Executive Director Rayanne Haines steps back from her full-time role of guiding the organization and producing the annual festival after nearly seven years.

Under Rayanne’s direction, the Edmonton Poetry Festival has grown into one of Canada’s most diverse and respected literary festivals. Programming during the festival has made more space for youth, and for LGBTQ and other groups, especially indigenous voices. It has added new and exciting programs like its annual one-day youth conference and continues to program poetry on Edmonton Transit vehicles.

The festival welcomes Nisha Patel to a new part-time position as festival producer, starting November 1. In this role, she will manage the planning and smooth operation of the 2019 festival. Rayanne will continue as ED until the end of this year; and then will continue, on a part-time basis to look after overall organization management and generally smooth the transition until after the 2019 festival.

As festival producer, Nisha brings her experience in organizing special events and festivals, and her strong engagement with the spoken-word poetry community as performer and organizer. Among her many activities, she is coordinator for Breath In Poetry, Edmonton’s weekly spoken-word gathering.

Festival chair Alice Major says “Rayanne has given stellar leadership to the organization. We are so grateful for what she has achieved, and for her willingness to help us make the transition smoothly.” She adds that the board will be looking at options before deciding on the final staff structure. “The workload is increasingly large and complex, and we want to get the best fit possible between individuals, skills and reporting relationships.”

Rayanne herself says, “I believe community organizations need change to remain healthy and to develop. I look forward to working with Nisha and witnessing the next part of the Festival’s evolution.”