NextGen Month Poem

Written by Mary Pinkoski

Edmonton's Poet Laureate
2013 to 2015

In 2015, standing out like a beacon in a sea of change, Edmonton's Thomas Dang becomes the youngest elected politician in Alberta

In 2015, the Edmonton Youth Council paved the way through a barrier of concrete silence that held people's tongues to open a conversation on youth homelessness

And shifting the dialogue into one of hope instead of hopelessness

In 2015, Charlotte Cranston became Edmonton's first youth poet laureate

Using her poems centered on social issues to help youth speak their own truths

She is helping youth write a new story onto the landscape of their lives

In 2014, political science student Emerson Csorba was named one of the Globe and Mail's Notable Canadians

In 2014, Alberta Venture lauded environmental activist Mike Hudema as one of their Top 50 Most Influential People

In 2014, Grade 6 student Nessa Deans, fascinated with the particularities of the running her city, became Canada's Youth Every Day Political Citizen

In 2014, City of Edmonton Strategic Analyst David Rauch placed pianos on our street corners ushering in a new kind of urban sound so that we might hear the way this city's rhythm is plucked out on willing keys

In 2013, Nuela Charles sang her way to the top and swept the Edmonton Music Awards

In 2013, I became Edmonton's second youngest Poet Laureate

In 2013, Edmonton elected its second youngest Mayor

It does not stop here, in a city that has built itself on an entrepreneurial spirit
On the idea that anyone and everyone can make a contribution
A city that does not lend itself readily to tradition or old family history
We are a city whose establishment is innovation, inventiveness, something new

We are a city that is always turning over a new leaf
To see what is underneath
A city that honours its question-askers
Its challengers, its discoverers
Its latent lego block builders

We are the Make Something Edmontons
Spring up like Poppy Barleys we are custom fit to this place and this time

We are Catch the Keys and Start Up Edmonton

With compassion and belief in the potential of anyone,
We are the iHumans and the Kids in the Hall

We are not Generation Y or Z,
We are Generation Next

Next chance
Next opportunity
Next vision

I am going to make this happen

And we do

We are city of visionaries from the ground up
An environment that plants its seeds
And then encourages those sprouts to grow
Into something amazing,
Something that is shifting the city,
The province and
The nation

There is lightening in the veins of your Next Gen
Fireworks in the mindscape of their dreams
Sparks in their throats

And despite the advice,
We are not going placidly amidst the haste and the turmoil
No, We are ruffling feathers and rustling papers
We are dancing outside of the lines and
Colouring this place like nobody's watching

We are the spectrum in full shine across the ski
We are consent and care and compassion and creativity

We are the fault lines upon which Edmonton is growing
And we are shaking things up

We are unanswered prayers being actualized
There is something holy about this city

Something about the way it has found its fortune
in the palms of its youth
Something about the way this city keeps saying,
"Open your hands.
hold this"
A city that calls on people when they are most needed,
A city of elders looking towards the Next Generation,
Handing them the backbone of this city,
"Take this. This spine.
You firework,
you brilliant flash light.
Take this and swallow my stand up straight,
gulp down my resilience.
Take this gnarled trunk of tree spine
and let it ring with wisdom inside you.
You young warrior,
it is not that I don't think you can do it
without me,
It is that I already know you have."