As Canada’s national organization for poetry, the League aspires to house a community where all poets and all readers feel represented in our work. We know the power of poetry: to offer hope, solidarity, resistance, action, justice, mourning. And we know the power of reading: to engage in critical thought, to educate, to connect. The League strives to cultivate a culture of care that considers how we can meaningfully and equitably support all members of our community.
The League’s leadership team has been profoundly shaken by the genocidal violence in Palestine and the waves of Islamophobic and antisemitic hatred that have surged in its wake. We extend our deepest sympathy and compassion to all those grieving, and we stand with our community in calling for an end to the violence.
Recently, there have been a number of high-profile incidents of censorship of artists and arts workers worldwide with regards to the Israel-Hamas war, with particular censorship of pro-Palestine perspectives; the League condemns such censorship, as it stands in direct contradiction to Canada’s protected freedom of expression, and the League’s values of inclusiveness and representation.
The League does not tolerate any form of discrimination or hate speech, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. We are dedicated to educating ourselves and integrating anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices in our work. We support our team members who may be advocates for equity and social justice, or are involved in activism outside of the League, and we understand that our team members may be searching for ways to take personal action. We recognize that at times it will feel impossible to carry on business as usual; as such, our communications may be paused or delayed as we continue to provide paid emergency, wellness, or bereavement leave to our staff as needed.
We are grateful to the organizations and individuals who have been making statements of support and solidarity, as well as calls to action, in the arts and in Canada. We are particularly grateful to the RMG’s statement on censorship and the Capilano Review, whose statements helped our leadership team shape ours, and to the individual poets who reached out and followed up to request the League’s voice not remain absent in this conversation. Additionally, we recognize the myriad emotions and opinions held by our team and members on this issue and note that this statement is not intended to represent the individuals of the League’s membership or leadership team.
To support access to self-education, we would also like to share two resources that can help readers combat disinformation: