Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Danielle Altrogge


(Photo by Stephen Rutherford, tail by Deej Siminoff, Intro by Shanda Stefanson)

Danielle is a spoken word queen. She is an extraordinary poet. She is a two-time member of the Saskatoon Slam Team, and a Canadian Festival of Spoken Word champion. She is the Executive Director of Saskatoon’s weekly poetry show, Tonight it’s Poetry. She is a member of the SAT Award nominated collaboration that wrote Our Four Walls, a hybrid theatre/poetry show. She is working toward her MFA in Creative Writing. The list of her accomplishments and credentials could go on and on, because she’s just that bad-ass. 

But more importantly, she is a wonderful human and an amazing friend. Her compassion and empathy are inspiring, matched only by her passion and willingness to fight for what’s right. She uses her roll as an artist and an arts organizer to break down boundaries, and give voice to those who often go unheard. Her optimism is unbreakable, her heart is un-containable, and her loveliness is indisputable. 

Danielle’s influence on my growth as an artist and her willingness to stand by me as a friend has been such an amazing gift over the last few years that I’ve been getting to know her. And even though she’s 10 years younger than me, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?  

My most pressing project is preparation for my upcoming poetry tour. I’ll be performing at nine different spoken word poetry shows across Ontario and in Montreal. I’m finishing up a self-released chapbook and a line of lipsticks to take on tour with me.

I’m also currently working on a full-length one-woman performance piece that looks at tarot cards and the questions we ask these decks and the people that read them. I want to use the project to read the audience as well as myself. It’ll be my biggest project to date and I’m excited to see how it takes shape over the next year.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

I’m the kind of person who works a lot of smaller jobs instead of one full-time gig. I’m a pharmacy technician, do social media and website work for the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity at the U of S, am the Executive Director of Tonight it’s Poetry, and am currently working on my MFA in Writing at the U of S. I like how different all of these jobs are- I’m never bored! But, it’s hard for me to leave work at work since I’m working from home for a number of these projects. I’m trying to get better at setting specific work hours where I’ll answer emails and have other times where I take myself off of the clock. Also, Netflix can be very tempting when you have the ability to do your work from your bed.

KC: What’s important to you?

Community is important to me. When I first discovered Tonight it’s Poetry, I felt this sense of relief that there were other people out there that I could relate to. I have been so fortunate to find a home within that group of artists.

Feminism is also important to me. It’s the continuous thread that ties together all of my work, creatively and academically.

KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?

The river is one of the things I like the most about Saskatoon. Some of my favourite ways to spend time are reading books in rotary park, or sitting on the rocks near the Broadway bridge, or making first dates go for a walk along the Meewasin Valley trail. I like the size -being able to get almost anywhere in less that 15 minutes is amazing. It’s a beautiful place to call home.

My biggest complaint about Saskatoon is that I wish it were less car-centric. It’s pretty hard to get around, especially in the winter without access to a vehicle. I hope that my city can adapt and provide more services geared towards public transit, pedestrians, and cyclists.

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

A positive one. I have family that lives there so most of my experience in the city has involved bbq’s and weddings and going to Rider games with my dad. The folks who run Regina Word Up, Regina’s spoken word organization know how to put on a really good show. There are some really great people in Regina.

KC: How do you survive the winters?

By trying not to hermit through them. I find the more time I spend outside, the less negatively the weather affects me. I’m a big fan of building snow-people and making snow angels and of snow-ball fights, but I also just drink a lot of tea and write a lot of words about how crisp the air gets. I don’t hate winter here. There’s this sense of collective camaraderie and survival that helps build that sense of community I mentioned earlier.

(From the Proust Questionnaire: What words or phrases do you most overuse?

I’m so bad for overusing words and phrases. Especially, “touché”, “you reach that shining star!,” “go for gold!” I’m also in a habit right now of referring to my friends as “dear one.” I’m sure there are some major ones that I’ve missed and they’ve definitely changed and evolved over the years. I just find words that fit and I can’t help but reuse them! It’s economical I guess?