Nisha Patel delivers poem to city council that will grow with COVID death toll


By Fawnda Mithrush

Edmonton's current poet laureate delivered a highly-charged, devastating 615-word performance in council's virtual chambers on Monday. Patel noted that her poem's word count — which represented the reported number of Albertan lives lost as of Dec. 7 — will grow as the total number of people who pass away from COVID-19 rises in the weeks to come. 

Nisha Patel delivers with her poem 432 - 615 - ? in city council's virtual meeting on Dec. 7. (City of Edmonton/Youtube)

Nisha Patel delivers with her poem 432 - 615 - ? in city council's virtual meeting on Dec. 7. (City of Edmonton/Youtube)

An excerpt from Patel's poem, 432 - 615 - ?:

Teens take up the mantle to uphold Treaty and save the lives of those the City wishes didn't exist. The City wishes harder, shoves bodies into a convention center, and hopes the people with the votes are appeased that no tax dollars have been wasted. In fact, the City does not raise taxes, so I lay awake and wonder which part of the Municipal Government Act, Section 7, prevents the City from spending money in a crisis in the name of the safety, health and welfare of people. But then again, I’ve only spent ten years studying politics, so what would a property-less millennial like me know about it.

I think about Christmas. I think about starvation. I think about home. How being human makes me worthy of at least one of these things.

And your Worship, mostly I think about death. How my faith in politics died first in a refrigerator truck, then a field hospital.

"Please keep us posted as you add words to a poem that should be finished," Mayor Iveson requested as Patel's performance ended.

Patel later discussed her plans for the "living" poem with CTV.