VERSe Ottawa is a fully-incorporated, not-for-profit organization with charitable status that draws together groups, organizations, and individuals actively involved in the poetic arts to sustain and promote poetry in all its forms in the National Capital Region.

One of VERSe Ottawa’s main activities is to stage VERSeFest, Ottawa’s annual International Festival of Poetry. VERSe Ottawa’s other major activity is to administer the City of Ottawa’s new Poet Laureate Program.

The current Board of Directors are:


VERSeFest is Ottawa’s annual International Festival of Poetry. Built on a mandate of fostering creative crossroads and community, we feature English and French poetry of all traditions, styles, and forms. Since 2011, we have showcased the best local, Canadian, and international poets performing in both spoken and written word genres. As one of Canada’s largest and most successful poetry festivals, our stages have featured readings by Griffin, Governor General, and Pulitzer Prize winners.

VERSeFest is curated and organized by a planning committee comprised of a collective of local poetic organizations and reading series under the guidance of the festival’s artistic director.

The current members of the VERSeFest planning committee include:


VERSeFest strives to create a welcoming space for audience members to engage with ideas that aim to challenge conventional thinking. Inclusion and acceptance are essential components of our Festival. We strive to create a hospitable space for all, including but not limited to, women and women-identifying persons, Black, PoC, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, differently-abled, and minority language groups.


Our main venue, Knox Presbyterian Church is wheelchair accessible. The Knox door is not automatic, but volunteers are available at the entrance before, during and after events to assist with the doors as needed. There is one gender neutral, wheelchair accessible washroom in the main space. There are also two gendered washrooms in the basement of the venue. If you require any additional assistance, or if you have further questions, please contact us using the information below.


VERSeFest takes place on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation. We encourage everyone to be mindful and respectful of this throughout the festival and in all their activities in the Ottawa area, and to educate themselves and reflect on their individual roles in efforts toward Reconciliation. Find more information about the City of Ottawa’s Reconciliation plan, or get involved at Reconciliation Canada.


We like our poetry risky and our spaces safe. Our volunteers, poets, and audiences are important to us. We want to encourage an open, ongoing dialogue about our programming and the spaces we create. BIPOC, LBGTQS2+, women, and persons with disabilities are especially encouraged to connect. Contact us at communications@versefest.ca. We’re here to grow together.


There is a high density of activity in poetry in Ottawa. More than 14 reading series hold regular events, enjoying a cumulative attendance from 600 to 1,000 people per month. Poets featured and nurtured by these opportunities include the best of local talent, as well as some of Canadian Poetry’s brightest and best-respected poets.


VERSe began planning in spring of 2010 for our first festival, VERSeFest 2011, which made the most of the planning and organizational capacities of the component organizations of the collective, as well as the high artistic standards, of all these organizations in order to give Ottawa its own annual poetry festival. VERSeFest will be an annual international festival of poetry, befitting Ottawa’s place as a world capital, and showcasing the artistic accomplishment and high-level activity of the Ottawa poetry scene.