News release: Nominate Ontario’s first Poet Laureate

TORONTO, June 29, 2020 The Legislative Assembly of Ontario has started the process of inviting nominations for a Poet Laureate for the Province.

"For the first time in our history, we will be celebrating our literary arts by selecting an Ontario Poet Laureate," said the Legislature's Speaker Ted Arnott. "Poetry nourishes and inspires, and our poets speak to our hearts and souls. This initiative could not come at a better time."

Introduced by Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield, the Poet Laureate of Ontario Act (In Memory of Gord Downie) was passed unanimously in the Legislature in December 2019. It honours the late former lead singer of popular Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, whose poetic lyrics touched the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast. A native of Kingston, Ontario, Downie passed away in October 2017.

Upon appointment by the Legislature, the Poet Laureate will report to the Speaker as an officer of the Assembly for a two-year term. Responsibilities will include writing poetry, promoting art and literacy in the province, celebrating Ontario and its people and raising the profile of Ontario poets.

Applications for the position are being accepted through to September 15, 2020. Following the acceptance of nominations, a selection panel will prepare a short list of the nominees by December and announce a chosen nominee by February, 2021.

Ontario’s Poet Laureate selection panel:

  • The Honourable Ted Arnott, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills
  • Vicki Whitmell, Executive Director and Legislative Librarian, Information and Technology Division, Legislative Assembly of Ontario
  • Rita Davies, Chair, Ontario Arts Council
  • David Tsubouchi, Member of the Board of Directors, Ontario Arts Council and former Ontario Cabinet Minister and MPP

Qualifications for the position include primary residency in Ontario and being the author of at least one volume of poetry within the last 10 years.

Ontario’s Poet Laureate will join counterparts in other jurisdictions, such as Canada’s Parliament as well as municipalities across the province including Toronto, Mississauga, Windsor and Kingston.

For more information about nomination procedures and requirements for the post, please visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Poet Laureate website:

Nominations must be received by Tuesday, September 15, 2020.


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