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Edmonton’s seventh Poet Laureate:Ali photo by Jed Lim

Ahmed ‘Knowmadic’ Ali

Award-winning poet, Ahmed ‘Knowmadic’ Ali, is a full-time writer, actor, comedian, public speaker and youth worker who inspires with his dynamic, thought-provoking and humorous poetry.

Ali experienced intense culture shock when his family escaped the civil war in Somalia. First moving to Italy then Canada, Ali quickly learned what it meant to be different. During his youth Ali struggled to value his culture and religion, while managing confrontations with fellow students and authority. He turned to family and the arts to gain a new outlook on life.

Soon after Ali discovered a love for the spoken word, he became a co-founder of the Breath in Poetry Collective. He has since become the first Somali champion at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word; facilitated poetry workshops in a Wales correctional facility; represented Canada on the International Literary stage; and, received the Northlands Emerging Artist Award in 2015.

More than an accomplished poet, Ali uses his talents to inspire and uplift the local community. Ali encourages Edmonton’s aspiring poets and youth to use poetry as a positive form of self-expression and exploration of identity. A poet and community builder, Ali brings a contagious positivity and inclusivity to everything he does.

Ahmed Ali will serve a two-year term as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019. Keep informed about Ali’s events by following @AKnowmadic on Twitter and Facebook.

Edmonton's Poet Laureate Terms


Role of the Poet Laureate

Historically, a Poet Laureate served as the official chronicler of state events and occasions. In ancient times, the Laureate was the central means for recording and communicating history. "Laureate" comes from the Latin word ‘laureatus', meaning adorned with a crown of laurel, an honour also bestowed on the earliest Olympic athletes.

Edmonton's Poet Laureate program is supported jointly by The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Public Library and the Edmonton Arts Council. The creation of this position confirms the city's support for the arts in general, and for the literary arts in particular.

More currently, the role of a Poet Laureate is to reflect the life of a city through readings of poetry. As an ambassador for the literary arts, the Laureate incorporates poetry into a range of official and informal city activities.

Download the Call for Nominations

PDF download


Edmonton's Poet Laureate is expected to:


  • commit to the full two-year term
  • assume the role of literary ambassador for the City of Edmonton to audiences both within and outside of the City
  • advocate strongly for the literary arts
  • produce, on request of theCity, at least three original works for specific events or occasions identified by the City in each year of the two-year term.
  • agree to present in person works of significance to the citizens of Edmonton:

                - at least once a year to City Council
                - at least once a year at a City-sponsored fund-raising or charity event, and
                - at a minimum of two official City of Edmonton functions each year such as the City of
                  Edmonton anniversary of incorporation, the City’s official summer exhibition or the
                  Mayor’s state of the City address

  • the Poet Laureate will initiate events related to poetry
  • may be required to travel outside of Edmonton to represent the City in an official capacity

In addition, the Edmonton Poet Laureate will be allowed/encouraged to present or perform works of other poets, if content and/or subject is relevant to the event and the citizens of Edmonton.


Past Poets Laureate

Alice Major 2005 – 2007
Learn more about Alice here.

Ted Blodgett 2007 – 2009
Learn more about Ted here and here.

Roland Pemberton (aka Cadence Weapon) 2009 – 2011
Learn more about Roland here, watch his first offical reading to City Council here.

Anna Marie Sewell 2011 – 2013
Learn more about Anna Marie here, you can see her PoemCatcher project here.

Mary Pinkoski 2013-2015
Learn more about Mary here, watch her Canoe Theatre Festival poem here.

Pierrette Requier 2015-2017
Learn more about Pierrette here.

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