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:

  • Arc Poetry Magazine
  • L’Association des auteures et des auteurs de l’Ontario français (AAOF)
  • Blue Mondays
  • Éditions David
  • Factory Reading Series
  • In/Words Magazine & Press
  • KaDo
  • Plan 99
  • Regroupement des éditeurs canadiens-français (RECF)
  • Sawdust Reading Series
  • Slam Outaouais
  • Tree Reading Series
  • Urban Legends
  • Monty Reid, Festival Director
  • Avonlea Fotheringham, Festival Administrator

Inclusivity at VERSEFEST

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, 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.

Poetry in Ottawa

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.

VERSeFest 2017 Website
VERSeFest 2016 Website
VERSeFest 2015 Website
VERSeFest 2014 Website
VERSeFest 2013 Website
VERSeFest 2012 Website
VERSeFest 2011 Website

The Organization

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 our 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 newly re-invigorated Poet Laureate program.

The Board of Directors are:

  • David Stymeist, President
  • Mélanie Rivet, (Interim) Vice-President
  • Yves Turbide, Treasurer
  • Susan Atkinson, Secretary
  • Vivian Vavassis, Director
  • Rusty Priske, Director
  • Vanessa Rotondo, Director
  • Michel Thérien, Director

Contact Us


16 Elvina St
Ottawa ON  K1J 7K9

Supporting VERSeFest

Charitable Donations

Receipts with a charitable number will be issued with any donations.

Donate A Car

Donate a Car Canada accepts Vehicle Donations for VERSe Ottawa. Free towing is provided in most areas across Canada, or you can drop off your vehicle to maximize your donation. When you donate your car, truck, RV, boat, or motorcycle to VERSe Ottawa through Donate A Car Canada, it will either be recycled or sold at auction (depending on its condition, age and location). Donate a Car Canada will look after all the details to make it easy for VERSe Ottawa to benefit. After your vehicle donation is complete, our charity will send you a tax receipt and will put your gift to good use. Please click here to donate a vehicle.

Promote Your Business

We are seeking interested, local and independent businesses that will benefit directly from our shared goals. Our events provide a number of promotional opportunities covering most of the marketing media.