Edmonton Creative Writing Collective

About Words with Friends (yegwords)

Words with Friends (aka yegwords) is an Edmonton-based creative writing collective and performance series designed to build a community network of local writers in a welcoming and non-competitive atmosphere. Every 8 to 10 weeks,  we meet, share our work, and discover local literary talent via live reading events that follow a format similar to an “open stage”.

Words with Friends is open to anyone in the Edmonton area involved with or interested in creative writing. We welcome writers of all experience levels, ages and walks of life across a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, scenes/sketches, stand-up comedy, songwriting, and performance art.

A standard Words with Friends event typically features a program of 8 to 10 writers and lasts for about 2 hours, with a “musical guest” as an intermission at the halfway point. Musical guests are local singer/songwriters who play original material. We like it if you e-mail us in advance of an event to let us know that you’d like to read something. Having an idea of how many writers will be performing, who they are and what they’re planning on reading helps us schedule the program and make sure there is enough time for everyone to take their turn. But we also accept last-minute sign-ups at the events as well if there is time in the program.

Words with Friends was founded by local writers Jason Lee Norman and Kasia Gawlak. Both Jason, who is focused on short stories and creative non-fiction, and Kasia, who is primarily a confessional poet, were interested in creating a new venue for performing their writing live for some time. Jason was a seasoned veteran of the Edmonton Story Slam, while Kasia had been more active in poetry slams and live performance during her time as a student at the University of Alberta in the late 90s. Jason and Kasia shared a vision for a forum where hosting a variety of writers in a mix of different genres was the order of the day, and where the focus was on community building among members of the local creative writing scene, rather than writers competing against each other (as was the case with many existing writing events in the city). Ultimately, Words with Friends is about having fun being a writer with other writers and people who love writing.

The first Words with Friends took place in June of 2011, and since then has run every eight to ten weeks at a variety of different venues around the city of Edmonton, including Bohemia and Brittany’s Lounge. Words with Friends also pioneered some novel formats for live performance writing events.  These include last fall’s live reading atop the High Level Streetcar, and WordCrawl last May, which saw writers and lit lovers zig zag across the city in a yellow school bus to 4 different venues for performances from 9 writers. We will continue to think outside the box and develop exciting and original formats and venues to stage our events.

Words with Friends has seen interest grow from the writing community, as well as from a loyal audience of Edmontonians who appreciate live readings. We have partnered with many amazing people and organizations in the course of our adventures in writing, such as Audrey’s Books, Daffodil Gallery, the Edmonton Poetry Festival and the Unknown Studio.

We have plans to make Words with Friends a registered non-profit community organization, and to expand the scope of our efforts and the events we organize. Stay tuned for details!