Are you ready to bring poetry into politics?
Poetry City is an annual celebration of poetry facilitated by mayors and city councils all across Canada, encouraging them to invite a local poet to do a short reading at a city council meeting in March or April. This year, Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke challenges mayors to take up this challenge! Here you’ll find the 2017 challenge letter, our registration form, a map of participating communities, and support materials for sharing and promoting your involvement.
TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE: POETRY CITY 2017
Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and the League of Canadian Poets invite you to celebrate poetry this spring by taking part in the annual Poetry City challenge!
To recognize UNESCO World Poetry Day on March 21 and celebrate National Poetry Month in April, we encourage mayors all across Canada to bring a local poet into their political headquarters. By inviting a poet to read at a city council meeting in the month of March or April, Canadian cities will have a chance to bring poetry into the public eye and showcase local talent.
Our 2017 Poetry City celebration also coincides with Canada’s 150th birthday! This year, in myriad ways, we will celebrate an ongoing history of language, land, and community in this beautiful country we call home—and we encourage you to bring together Canada’s 150th anniversary and your Poetry City celebrations this spring.
Cities like Whitehorse to Dawson City to Victoria and St. Johns have been key supporters and participants in this annual challenge, encouraging their citizens, poets, artists, libraries, and bookstores to celebrate poetry each spring.
To participate in the 2017 Poetry City challenge, you may complete the enclosed confirmation form or visit poets.ca/poetry city to find an online confirmation form, an FAQ, and more. The League website also has documents and information to help you share and celebrate your participation in the 2017 challenge, including a social media tip sheet, and a sample press release and declaration.
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.
George Elliott Clarke
Parliamentary Poet Laureate
“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.”
TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE
To register your participation in Poetry City 2017, download and complete this confirmation form. As confirmations come in, we will add participating cities to our 2017 Poetry City map, which you’ll find right here!
Poetry City also encourages cities and towns to formally declare UNESCO World Poetry Day (March 21) and/or National Poetry Month (April) as a means of recognizing and honouring the importance of poetry in your region. Download our sample proclamation here for help with content and wording.
Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns regarding Poetry City!
BRITISH COLUMBIA: Cranbrook, Fernie, Nanaimo, Nelson, New Westminster, Powell River, Prince George, Victoria, White Rock
ALBERTA: Brooks, Jasper, Medicine Hat, Wood Buffalo
SASKATCHEWAN: Creighton, Melfort, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Swift Current
MANITOBA: Brandon, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Portage la Prairie
ONTARIO: Barrie, Brantford, Burlington, St Catharines, Toronto, Waterloo
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR: Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Paradise, St John’s
NOVA SCOTIA: New Glasgow, Wolfville
NEW BRUNSWICK: Fredericton, Sackville
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND: Charlottetown, Summerside
GET INVOLVED AND SHARE YOUR NEWS
Cities who have confirmed their participation are encouraged to share the news on social media, on their own websites, and even with local media. Download our social media content suggestions for prepared tweets, Facebook posts, and newsletter content, or use our sample press release to help you prepare your own press release to send to your local media.
If you are a poet interested in celebrating Poetry City, the first step is to find out if your city is a confirmed participant! If your city is not yet participating, we encourage poets to approach their city council and let them know about the challenge. You can download and share a general tip sheet on how to get involved here. The League is happy to send a physical challenge package to any communities that didn’t receive one!
If your city is already participating and has booked a poet for a reading already, or if they will not be participating, poets can still celebrate Poetry City by organizing their own events that bring together politics and poetry! Poetry City aims to bring poetry into unusual public spaces: you could organize a Poetry City reading in a park, for instance! If you’re holding a Poetry City-specific event, feel free to email details to email@example.com.
To find out about 2016 participating communities, as well as other 2016 Poetry City initiatives, visit this page.
Find out more about the 2015 challenge here, or the 2014 challenge here.