Edmonton's Poet Laureate
Edmonton's Sixth Poet Laureate: Pierrette Requier
Bilingual poet, performer, producer, mentor and emerging playwright, Pierrette Requier was raised in the Peace River region of northern Alberta. She attended the University of Alberta and at St. Stephen's College in Edmonton. Requier taught in bilingual programs in northern Alberta and French Immersion in Edmonton as well as participated in an exchange to Queensland, Australia. She returned to literary studies and committed to a writing practice, subsequently achieving publication in poetry.
Perhaps stemming from her teaching background, Requier seeks to engage and mentor. She has served as a poet mentor for the Writer’s Guild of Alberta Mentorship Program and as Grant MacEwan University’s twentieth writer-in-residence where she encouraged students to grow as writers. Requier's monthly Wind Eye Writing Seminars, that she has designed and hosted for the last fifteen years, incorporates various forms of writing and spoken word and creates a space for writers, of all levels to gather. She takes seriously the charge of giving back her own experience and energy to the writers she meets.
Requier has sat on boards, liaising between the Anglophone and Francophone literary communities, to promote Francophone arts across Edmonton. Over the past four years, she has brought together Francophone poets in her French Twist events during the Edmonton Poetry Festival. Requier has collaborated and performed across Alberta, Winnipeg, and Montreal. It has been said her work is truly une plume du Nord, du Far-Ouest, une langue de chez-nous/vous (her writing is penned in the language of the western/prairie soil).
Pierrette Requier will serve a two-year term as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.
Role of the Poet Laureate
Historically, a Poet Laureate served as the official chronicler of state events and occasions. In ancient times, the Laureate was the central means for recording and communicating history. "Laureate" comes from the Latin word ‘laureatus', meaning adorned with a crown of laurel, an honour also bestowed on the earliest Olympic athletes.
More currently, the role of a Poet Laureate is to reflect the life of a city through readings of poetry. As an ambassador for the literary arts, the Laureate incorporates poetry into a range of official and informal city activities.
Edmonton's Poet Laureate program is supported jointly by The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Public Library and the Edmonton Arts Council. The creation of this position confirms the city's support for the arts in general, and for the literary arts in particular.
Edmonton's Poet Laureate Terms
Edmonton's Poet Laureate is expected to:
- Serve as Poet Laureate for two years.
- Assume the role of literary ambassador for the City of Edmonton both within and outside of the City.
- Produce at least three original works each year.
- Appear and present works of significance to the citizens of Edmonton:
- at least once a year in front of City Council
- at least once a year at a City-sponsored fundraising or charity event
- at a minimum of two City of Edmonton official functions each year
- Undertake to begin and contribute to an historical archive of events and poetry presented at same.
In addition, the Edmonton Poet Laureate will be allowed/encouraged to present or perform works of other poets, if content and/or subject is relevant to the event and the citizens of Edmonton.
Poet Laureate Events & Appearances
As the ambassador of literary arts for the City of Edmonton, the Poet Laureate incorporates poetry into a range of official and informal city activities.
Do you have a project or event that you would like to invite the Poet Laureate to?
Edmonton's Poet Laureate creates and presents three official poems a year, and is engaged in a number of outreach projects.
The Poet Laureate is also available to perform at special events, schools, and other occasions, as well as lead workshops. Please note that for activities outside of the Poet Laureate's official role, an artist fee may apply.
Contact information to reach Pierrette directly will be posted soon.
Poet Laureate in the News
Pierrette Requier named Edmonton's Poet Laureate
Franco-Albertan poet brings a bilingual voice to role
Mayor Don Iveson announced Pierrette Requier is Edmonton’s newest Poet Laureate. Requier is a bilingual, Franco-Albertan poet whose work bridges English and French. Requier has been an enthusiastic force within Edmonton’s literary community for more than 20 years.
“Writing poetry is at once terror and playfulness. It is jumping into a void, and at the same time, immersing oneself into the now of play,” says Requier. “Poets hang out with words long enough to watch the magic of an image arise out of nothing.”
Requier was raised in the Peace River region of northern Alberta and has made Edmonton her home. She has served as Grant MacEwan University’s twentieth writer-in-residence and as a poet mentor for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Mentorship Program. Requier’s poetry has been printed in over ten publications, and she has recently completed a play/tone poem “Les Blues des oubliées” to be produced by Brian Dooley and premiered at l’Unithéâtre in October 2015.
“Poetry is an important canvas for us to capture Edmonton's history and stories,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “As our newest Poet Laureate and a Franco-Albertan, Pierrette's unique voice will add new perspectives to our city's narrative and enhance our artistic and cultural diversity.”
Requier encourages the local literary community with monthly Wind Eye Writing Seminars that she has designed and hosted for the last fifteen years. She also brings together Francophone poets in French Twist events, now in their fourth year, during the Edmonton Poetry Festival.
“It is so exciting to have Pierrette Requier as Edmonton’s newest Poet Laureate,” said Pilar Martinez, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Edmonton Public Library.” Her involvement in the community along with her quality of work and wealth of experience proves she will be a fantastic ambassador. We look forward to working with her in her new role.”
Requier will serve a two-year term as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate after Mary Pinkoski’s term as Poet Laureate ends on June 30, 2015. The role of Edmonton’s Poet Laureate is to reflect the life of the city through readings and poetry. As an ambassador for the literary arts, the Laureate brings poetry into a range of official and informal city events.
“The Edmonton Arts Council is delighted to once again collaborate with the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Public Library in honouring a local poet’s contribution to our literary community,” said Paul Moulton, Executive Director of the Edmonton Arts Council. “We are privileged to have Pierrette’s voice in Edmonton and eager for Edmontonians to experience the work of our newest Poet Laureate.”
Edmonton’s Poet Laureate program is supported by The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Public Library.
Edmonton's Past Poet Laureates
Mary Pinkoski 2013-2015
Mary Pinkoski is a dynamic spoken word performer who has traveled throughout North America to represent Edmonton’s poetry scene. She has been active in Edmonton’s poetry community for nine years as a poet and a storyteller and is the founder of YOURS: Edmonton Youth Open Mic Series.
Mary is a Member at Large on the Spoken Word Canada board and works closely with the Edmonton Poetry Festival. In 2013, Mary placed third at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, making her the top ranked female in the competition. In 2011, she was voted Most Valuable Poet at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, where she was also Captain of the Edmonton Poetry Slam Team, who won the National Championship that year. She was the winner of the 2008 National CBC Poetry Faceoff.
Mary is also active in the community as a teacher and mentor, leading numerous workshops on spoken word poetry, including classroom presentations and writing workshops with both youth and adults. She draws inspiration from these experiences, as well as Edmonton’s past and present, in many of her works, and has collaborated with other poets and creatives on numerous projects in Edmonton and beyond. Her most current published chapbook is love is a tree you planted.
Anna Marie Sewell 2011-2013
Anna Marie Sewell’s first book of poetry, Fifth World Drum, (2009, Frontenac House) was nominated for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award, City of Edmonton Book Prize, the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award and the ReLit award. Fifth World Drum won critical acclaim across Canada, from Malahat Review to the Globe and Mail. She adapted and performed select pieces, with live soundscapes, as Suite: Fifth World Drum at the Talking Stick Festival February 21- 28th, part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.
Anna Marie is a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural artist; past work of note includes co-coordinating Honour Songs, a tribute to Aboriginal women, for Edmonton’s 2007 Cultural Capital project; and her award winning Heart of the Flower project. Heart of the Flower was based on writing about the year she spent working in a small city north of Kyoto, Japan.
Anna Marie earned a BA Special in Drama, with a minor in Spanish, from University of Alberta – via the scenic route, indulging curiosities about history, poetry, geography and more along the way.
The scenic route has been her career route thus far, which is great for a writer. She has earned her crust as a teacher, community animator, race horse groom, therapist, pasta maker, candy pusher, theatre worker and more. From 1998 – 2001, she even started and ran a company, Big Sky Theatre, producing original Aboriginal theatre. She served on the board of the Edmonton Arts Council from 2003 – 06, which led to such memorable opportunities as visiting Wonju, Korea in pursuit of cultural connections. All along the way, poetry has been a common thread and constant companion.
Anna Marie considers herself to be “quite Canadian” – she is a Status Indian, a Mi’gmaq from Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec. And though born in Mi’qmaq territory, in Fredericton, NB, her father’s family are mostly Anishnabe, and this is the part of her Aboriginal heritage with which she was most familiar growing up. On the other hand, Anishnabek are traditionally matrilineal, and Anna’s mother is the daughter of Polish immigrants. So, she is also part of the Slavic wave on the prairies, and first generation metis. She’s also a transplanted farm girl, who still loves to play in the dirt. (Go ahead, give her a pony.)
Anna grew up in the Peace country of northwestern Alberta, and only came to Edmonton when university seemed inevitable. Somehow, despite leaving our city three times – a year in Mexico, a year in Japan, two years in BC – she kept coming back. It took a couple of decades to come to grips with the grip this city has.
Part of that has to do with the bold and challenging climate – the sky, the river, the dynamic weather. A lot more has to do with the cultural life here. In her first year at university, Anna watched Marilyn Dumont read poetry at a Metis women’s gathering and thought – Hey! Can we Do that?! She cobbled together a hand-written portfolio (this was the olden days of the 80s) and applied to Creative Writing class. While the class (thanks Dr. Bert Almon) was interesting, it was even more exciting to get to know other young writers and begin doing things – little readings in obscure venues, gigs on campus radio, and one memorable attempt to do performance poetry at the old Ambassador in the height of its barb-wire/flying bottles heyday.
Anna Marie was a founding member of the Stroll of Poets Society, which has been a remarkable home for poets for 20 years now. She has also taken part in the Edmonton Poetry Festival’s annual month-long shindig, where you might have seen her host the Blinks (80+ poets, 30 seconds each, no hesitation) a time or three.
In early 2009, Anna took a bus out to Abbottsfield Mall, answering a request to facilitate a monthly circle for 3 adult literacy students at the Learning Centre. She did not suspect that, two years later, the group would number 10, meet twice a week, have coordinated a successful city-wide inter-agency conference, and be set to launch a cross-disciplinary project this fall. She is regularly in awe of them, and the Learning Centre staff.
Anna Marie’s most recent project, produced by Edmonton Public Library as part of Aboriginal Month celebrations, is ‘Braidings’ - in which she arranged and directed a readers’ theatre/soundscaped performance, for three voices, of the works of 6 Aboriginal poets representing past, present and future, on the braided themes of Land, Love and Language.
In July, Anna will lead a poetry workshop for Youthwrite, a camp for youth 12- 19, and will also be found pawing the dirt in her backyard and at her daughter’s school garden. As Poet Laureate, Anna Marie looks forward to collaborating with a broad range of people, and to serving our city with such tools as a poet may offer, to help build and develop our heart, our sense of ourselves as a community of creative possibilities.
Roland Pemberton 2009-2011
Roland Pemberton is an accomplished artist with an established international reputation as an innovative force in hip-hop. His debut album Breaking Kayfabe (2005) earned him nominations for the Canadian Indie Awards and "Best Rap Album of 2006" at the Plug Independent Music Awards, and won CBC Radio 3's Bucky Award. Both Breaking Kayfabe and his sophomore album Afterparty Babies (2008) have earned nominations for the coveted Polaris Music Prize.
Edmonton, and its characters, play a prominent role in Pemberton's work, and his roots to the city run deep. Roland's father, Teddy Pemberton, hosted The Black Experience in Sound on CJSR for 20 years and is often credited with bringing hip-hop to Edmonton. His grandfather, the great Rollie Miles, played for the Edmonton Eskimos from 1951 - 1961 and played in five CFL championship games. His uncle, Edmontonian Brett Miles, is a visual artist, accomplished saxophone player and songwriter who has performed with James Brown and recorded with Mick Jagger.
E.D. (Ted) Blodgett 2008-2009
E. D. (Ted) Blodgett, FRSC, is University Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta. He is currently teaching at MacEwan College and the Campus Saint-Jean where he is professeur auxiliaire in Études canadiennes. His research has varied from mediaeval European romance to Canadian Comparative Literature. His publications include Five-Part Invention: A History of Literary History in Canada (Toronto University Press, 2003) and Elegy (University of Alberta Press, 2005). He has published 17 books of poetry, of which 2 were awarded the Governor General's Award. He is preparing two others. A bilingual edition of his French poems, Le poème invisible, was published in 2008.
Alice Major 2005-2007
Alice has published eight collections of poetry and a novel for young adults, and served as the first poet laureate for the city of Edmonton from 2005- 2007. She came to Edmonton the long way round. She grew up in Dumbarton, Scotland –a small town on the banks of the Clyde, not far from Glasgow. Her family came to Canada when she was eight, and she grew up in Toronto before coming west to work as a reporter on The Williams Lake Tribune in British Columbia. She has been an active supporter of the arts and writing community:
- Past president of the League of Canadian Poets
- Past president of the Writers Guild of Alberta
- Past chair of the Edmonton Arts Council
- Founder, Edmonton Poetry Festival