Photo credit
Kristen Zabos


For poet, actor and organizer, Liam Coady, artistry — like life itself — is about bringing forces together and making meaningful connections. Liam’s own ability to bring together the physicality, intelligence and expansiveness of stage acting with the candour, potency, and directness of poetry has made him a beloved local performer, and a spoken word poet of uncommon national distinction. Liam is a national team poetry slam champion, a former finalist of the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, and has been a featured performer at festivals and showcases throughout the country. Liam’s work is special for its ability to foreground the human possibilities for social unity, personal resilience, love, triumph, and enduring hopefulness.


Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?

When I was in highschool, I was only aware of the dead poets of years past. I was one of those students who, despite my efforts to seem disinterested, loved text analysis. I remember deep diving into Shakespeare and Poe; devising my own understandings of their work. It wasn't until grade 12 that I was introduced to spoken word. For the first time I realized that my passion for performance and writing could meet in the middle and the world of poetry opened up to me. One of my favorite works from that time came from Mighty Mike McGee and his simile based poem "Like." 

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?

I started off writing short stories and monologues when I was in junior high; in high school I kept a journal that I wrote in semioccasionally. It was a means of organizing the many thoughts and feelings, and through that process poetry started to form. It wasn't until I was in university — after watching every spoken word video on YouTube I could find and reading a collection of Leonard Cohen's poems — that I began writing poetry in earnest. I loved being able to speak the words, so I began searching the city of Edmonton for open mic nights and found the Breath In Poetry Collective.

To this day I still struggle with the identity of poet. Some days I don't feel like a poet at all, even though I have released two chapbooks, have several video performances, and actively perform my work. I think this is part of the poet's journey; I have a hard time believing any artist who says they never doubt themselves. It is in our human nature to face doubt or fear, especially in the career path of the poet, or rather the vocation of the artist. In these times I am reminded that life, in its essence, is poetic and that it is a great privilege to bear witness to the poetry of one's life, to see it happening right before one's eyes . All I have to do is capture it one syllable at a time.

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?

The job of the poet — or what I see as the vocation — is to bear witness to life and all the thoughts, images, and feelings it encompasses, and to transcribe the intricacies of humanity into linguistics. The job of the poet is to feel, live, and breath through life, and to catch whatever they can in the fickle, interprable nature of the written word. The poet plays with language, structure, narrative, and imagination in order to evoke, provoke, and subvert. 

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?

I would choose "Common Magic" By Bronwen Wallace. I love the conversational tone of the poem as it maintains a metaphoric dialoge with the reader. It feels like a monologue in a play.


This Love is Mad Reciprocal
Glass Buffalo Publishing
Matthew Stepanic
Start here: