Breathing Life into Community

Ahmed Ali, AKA Knowmadic, is a poet, community organizer, public speaker, musician and recipient of the 2020 Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund

Ahmed Ali, also known as Knowmadic, is a well-known artist who works to inspire diverse communities and arts organizations on community building and youth.

Having more than 15 years of experience as a multifaceted spoken- word artist, he uses his community development background and his experiences as a refugee as a tool to bring individuals together. As an alumnus of Humber College who studied comedy writing and performance, he believes in building opportunities and helping others grow in their art, by providing an avenue for people to express their poetry.

When speaking on the Edmonton arts landscape, Knowmadic says, “An artist’s soil is their community; if they are not growing, they are in the wrong field.”

Edmonton is an exceptionally nurturing city, and Knowmadic has a collaborative mindset as most art communities in the city are connected.

Knowmadic’s contribution to the Edmonton arts scene involves him as co-founder and former Artistic Director of Edmonton’s only spoken-word collective, Breath In Poetry. In 2011, Knowmadic and the Edmonton Slam Team won the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word championship. He began his full-time career as an artist at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle, Washington, in 2013. He presided over the American Planning Association Annual Awards Ceremony in January 2018, which honoured Martin Luther King Jr.

In addition, he is a member of the Edmonton Arts Council’s Equity Committee, where he leads the equity committee. Knowmadic’s various achievements have won him numerous awards, including Northland’s Emerging Artist Award, Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award, and others.

Knowmadic has been awarded the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund (EATF), a collective project between the Edmonton Arts Council and Edmonton Community Foundation. The Clifford E. Lee Foundation and John and Barbara Poole formed the Fund in 1997, intending to invest in Edmonton’s creative professionals. The award recognizes the artist’s work and cultural contribution while also providing financial stability for renewal, development, creation, or discovery. EATF has invested in more than 100 multimedia, literary, poetry, dance, animation, theatre, and visual artists over the past 22 years, contributing more than $800,000 to the arts economy.

Titilope Sonuga is a Nigerian poet, writer and performer. Knowmadic and Titilope are co-founders of the Breath In Poetry Collective Edmonton, which holds a weekly open- mic and spoken-word slam series on Tuesdays, presenting poets with an outlet to express themselves. Titilope nominated Knowmadic for the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund because of his desire to communicate with others without judgment, helping them pursue healing through creativity. Titilope says of Knowmadic’s influence and artistry in the Edmonton arts culture: “He created and nourished, and poured himself into becoming a representation for the arts community; many poets in this city look up to him for guidance and mentorship.”

Knowmadic is thrilled to be a part of the Edmonton arts community, and he appreciates the Edmonton Arts Council’s dedication and Edmonton Community Foundation. With this funding, he plans to finish an instrumental CD compilation, a few children’s books, a collection of poetry and wordplay pieces, to publish an opinion piece contrasting community politics and career politics, and record some very immersive poetry.

“This grant will relieve some stress from thinking outside my art and focusing on completing art tasks,” says Knowmadic.

Learn more about the EATF