Become a #PoetryCity | Devenez une #VillePoésie

MPCC

Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi has officially issued the challenge: Mayors across Canada can now take up the #PoetryCity challenge by inviting a poet to read during a council meeting in March or April. Last year, over 70 communities participated in the challenge. This year, we hope for even more! Find out more about the #PoetryCity challenge at poets.ca/poetrycity. Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke–a participant of the #PoetryCity challenge in previous years–has a message for all the mayors across Canada who want to get involved:

The essence of democratic politics is speech–inventive,
insightful, succinct, expressive, moving, memorable,
and colourful.  That the aforementioned adjectives also
describe poetry is a happy coincidence, for the best
political speech is likely infused with the beauty and
force of supple metaphor and subtle rhymes.  For this
reason, I salute Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi for challenging
all Canadian municipalities to invite a local poet to
address each council. (When I was Poet Laureate of
Toronto, 2012-15, the highlight for me was the annual
address to City Council.  Councillors told me how much
they appreciated the wit and wonder of verse in
describing, playfully, the concerns of the citizens.) Thus,
I join with Mayor Nenshi in propagating this challenge,
for the voice of the poet is a distinct voice of the people.
Councillors will understand better the aspirations of their
voters by attending to what poets believe is wise.  Thus,
Canadian mayors and councils, please do summon a
local poet to address your governments and hear a
voice, not crying in the wilderness, but singing the news.

Yours truly,

George Elliott Clarke, OC, ONS, Ph.D.

Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17)

L’essence même de la politique démocratique est le discours — inventif, perspicace, succinct, expressif, émouvant, mémorable et coloré. Que ces adjectifs décrivent aussi la poésie est un heureux hasard, car le meilleur discours politique est sans doute infusé de la beauté et de la force du métaphore souple et des rimes subtiles. C’est pour cette raison que je salue le maire Nenshi qui a lancé le défi aux municipalités canadiennes d’inviter un poète local à faire une lecture au début d’une réunion municipale. (Lorsque j’étais Poète lauréate de la ville de Toronto, 2012-15, le point culminant pour moi était le moment où j’adressais le Conseil municipal. Les conseillers me confiaient combien ils appréciaient l’esprit et l’émerveillement  du vers dans la description ludique des préoccupations des citoyens.) Ainsi, je me joins au maire Nenshi afin de propager ce défi, car la voix du poète est une voix distinct du peuple. Les conseillers comprendront mieux les aspirations de l’électorat en portant attention à la sagesse des poètes. Ainsi, maires et conseillers, je vous invite à convoquer un poète local à vous adresser la parole afin d’entendre une voix, non pas criant dans ledésert, mais plutôt chantant les nouvelles.

Très sincèrement,

George Elliot Clarke, OC, ONS, Ph.D.

 

GECA revered poet, George Elliott Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, near the Black Loyalist community of Three Mile Plains, in 1960. A graduate of the University of Waterloo (B.A., Hons., 1984), Dalhousie University (M.A., 1989) and Queen’s University (Ph.D., 1993), he is now the inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. An Assistant Professor of English and Canadian Studies at Duke University, North Carolina (1994-99), Clarke also served as the Seagrams Visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at McGill University (1998-99), and as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia (2002) and as a Visiting Scholar at Mount Allison University (2005), and as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor in Canadian Studies at Harvard University (2013-14). He has also worked as a research, editor, social worker, parliamentary aide, and newspaper columnist. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, but he also owns land in Nova Scotia.

Photo and bio from the Parliamentary Poet Laureate website. Photo by Carmelita Linta.