Edmonton's Poet Laureate
2013 Poet Laureate Nomination and Selection
The City of Edmonton, Edmonton Public Library and the Edmonton Arts Council are seeking nominations for Edmonton’s fifth Poet Laureate. Edmonton’s Poet Laureate reflects the life of the city through readings of poetry, and serves as an ambassador for the literary arts by incorporating poetry into a range of official and informal city activities. The Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.
Nominees for Edmonton Poet Laureate must fulfill the following requirements:
• be current residents of the City of Edmonton
• have produced work that:
– demonstrates poetic flexibility (more than one style)
– reflects the life of the City
– is significant to the citizens of Edmonton
Duties and Responsibilities
The successful nominee will:
• commit to the full two-year term
• assume the role of literary ambassador for the City of Edmonton to audiences both within and outside of the City
• advocate strongly for the literary arts
• produce, on request of the City, at least three original works for specific events or occasions identified by the City in each year of the two-year term.
• agree to present in person works of significance to the citizens of Edmonton:
– at least once a year to City Council
– at least once a year at a City-sponsored fund-raising or charity event, and
– at a minimum of two official City of Edmonton functions each year such as the City of Edmonton anniversary of incorporation, the City’s official summer exhibition or the Mayor’s state of the City address
• the Poet Laureate will initiate events related to poetry
• may be required to travel outside of Edmonton to represent the City in an official capacity
The Edmonton Poet Laureate will receive an honorarium of $5,000 for each year of the two-year term. Any travel expenses associated with the role of Poet Laureate will be in addition to the annual honorarium.
• Candidates for Edmonton’s Poet Laureate must be nominated by at least one person
• Self-nominations will be accepted
• Nominees agree to participate in a review process that may include a reading and live interview in front of a Selection Committee
All submissions must include the following:
• A letter from the nominator(s) outlining the reasons for the nomination. It would be helpful to include excerpts of the nominee’s work that demonstrate significance to the citizens of Edmonton.
• Proof of the nominee’s residency in the City of Edmonton.
Submissions must be received no later than 4:30 pm on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
Edmonton Arts Council
Poet Laureate Nominations
2nd Floor, 10440 108 Avenue
Edmonton AB T5H 3Z9
Or…Email to email@example.com
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.
Stay tuned for upcoming events
Poet Laureate in the News
Call for nominations: Edmonton poet laureate
April 30, 2013
The City of Edmonton, Edmonton Public Library and the Edmonton Arts Council are seeking nominations for Edmonton's fifth Poet Laureate. Edmonton's Poet Laureate reflects the life of the city through readings of poetry, and serves as an ambassador for the literary arts by incorporating poetry into a range of official and informal city activities. The Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.
Interview with Anna Marie Sewell - Alberta Prime Time
Alberta's Poet Laureates
Original Air Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Edmonton has been doing it for seven years, and now Calgary has decided to get on the bandwagon. In this Around Alberta, how poetry is now making a major statement in our province.
Anna Marie Sewell - Interview on CBC Radio's Daybreak Alberta
She's been Edmonton's Poet Laureate since June of 2011 and the duties have taken her to some surprising parts of her city. For over 20 years, Anna Marie Sewell has been an author, songwriter and playwright and in her role as Poet Laureate she has been seeking the poetic voice of the capital. She dropped by the Daybreak studio to talk about her recent work and to also offer some advice to the City of Calgary as they get set to announce their first Poet Laureate.
Anna Marie Sewell named as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate
“A wonderful laureate, eager to share the power of words”
Anna Marie Sewell can add Poet Laureate to her impressive list of artistic accomplishments. The writer of poetry, theatre, stories and songs becomes the City of Edmonton’s fourth Poet Laureate on July 1, 2011.
“I am honored to be chosen as the City of Edmonton’s Poet Laureate,” said Sewell. “Edmonton is a tremendous city. It will be a joy to write and share poetry about Edmonton in this official role.”
Sewell has been active on Edmonton’s poetry scene for 20 years. She is a founding member of the Stroll of Poets Society which promotes poetry in Edmonton through performances and festivals. She is one of Edmonton’s Raving Poets and has a recurring gig as the “Bike-nik Poet” at Edmonton’sBikeology festival.
Sewell’s 2009 book of poetry Fifth World Drum won critical acclaim. Sewell is the founder of Edmonton’s Big Sky Theatre.
“We are pleased to welcome Anna Marie as our next Poet Laureate," said Mayor Stephen Mandel. "She brings to the role a profound ability to blend wisdom and playfulness into poetry that is both beautiful and accessible. Her work is varied and rich, with strong roots in our community. I know Anna Marie will be a great ambassador from Edmonton to the world."
“Anna Marie will be a wonderful laureate, eager to share the power of words,” said Pamela Anthony, Director of the Winter Light Festival, in nominating Sewell. “She wields unusual skill in casting the spell of language, sending the reader to explore new places. She will reflect Edmonton’s character in a beautiful and meaningful way.”
Born in Fredericton, NB, Sewell is of Mi’gmaq/Anishnabe/Polish heritage. She has lived in Edmonton since 1985, moving here from Alberta’s Peace Country.
"The Library and Anna Marie have worked closely together in the past,” said Pilar Martinez, Executive Director of Public Services, Edmonton Public Library. “We are excited by the opportunity to continue our collaborative relationship.”
Edmonton’s Poet Laureate program is supported by The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Public Library.
Sewell will serve a two-year term as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate. Roland Pemberton’s term as Poet Laureate ends on June 30, 2011.
Hello Poetry Fans!
Next week Word Nation, this year’s edition of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, brings the word alive all over our city from April 22 – 27th.
Check out www.edmontonpoetryfestival.comfor full details on a week of Poetic Wonders. With “The Great Black North,” “Aboriginal Stories,” “The Blinks,” and much more, you’ll see why we are a Word Nation.
The Laureates are Coming!
Most excitingly, this year we’re hosting 12 Poets Laureate from across Canada; and as our special guest, Liz Lochhead, the Makar of Scotland.
Look for guest Laureates all over town, in schools, in readings, and at two very special events.
Friday, all Poets Laureate will gather at City Hall for a morning symposium. We’ll compare notes on our roles and experiences in our various particular bailiwicks; and if we also share Secret Poet Handshakes, or dance Arcane Laureate Dances, well, we won’t be able to tell you about that.
However, pretty much any other aspect of our work is up for discussion in the afternoon, when everyone is welcome to attend a free public forum on poetry, arts, and culture. Grill us about what we do. Hear our tales of wild wordsmithery. Give us your two-cents worth (rounded up to a nickel) on any aspect of poetics and culture that you’d like aired out.
A Poetry Map of Canadais a fundraising gala for Edmonton Poetry Festival Society’s Poetry in Schools programs.
This event, at the Citadel’s Rice Theatre, will feature poetry by Poets Laureate from across Canada, original music, and a unique collaboration of voices.
In Act One, the guest Laureates will take the stage, each gracing us with an original poem.
Act Two will offer a A Poetry Map of Canada, a Spoken Word Concerto of selected poems from each Laureate, with original musical settings by noted Edmonton composer Dave Wall. His music creates the unifying pulse, and delicately enhances the distinct flavours of each Laureate’s work.
Arranged and directed by Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, Anna Marie Sewell, co-produced by artistic icon Brian Webb, A Poetry Map of Canada features a talented cast: singer/songwriter/actor Andrea House; and the multi-talented co-directors of Alberta Aboriginal Arts, Christine Sokaymoh Frederick and Ryan Cunningham; composer Dave Wall will accompany them with live and pre-recorded music
Come and enjoy a poetic portrait of our country, in the words of some of our most distinguished working poets, bringing glimpses of all points on the compass, from Yukon to PEI, from lamentation to celebration of what endures, and of what is only possible now, at this one moment.
There will be an intermission, featuring two special guest readers.
You are invited to join us after the show, for an artist’s talk.
So, if you’d wondered where I’ve been, I’ve been preparing for all this.
And also – as if this isn’t enough excitement – for the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, on April 29th. I’m thrilled to be part of what is bound to be an evening of superb entertainment and celebration, presented once again by the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton (PACE), at the fabulous Winspear.
One Raven, and a Whole World Opens
Hello, Poetry Fans,
Here’s to the coming of Spring, the way the light is growing, how the Sun will soon be north of the river in the mornings again.
I just got back from Vancouver, having taken some family time to have an urban vacation in that gorgeous city.
While there, we visited the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. If you’ve never gone, do go when you can. If you’ve been, you’ll know the awe of which I speak, the sense of wonder that greets you when you walk into the presence of the many totem poles, canoes, house poles and other artifacts of Coastal Peoples.
The only thing better was to proceed from there into the Bill Reid Rotunda. Open your wallet, and if you’re lucky, you’ve got a twenty in there, graced by an image of Reid’s iconic carving of Raven and the First People. Look at it. Imagine seeing it in real life. Towering, graceful, yellow cedar, glowing in the light. I was moved to tears, both by its physical beauty, and by what it represents.
To anyone who still speaks of Canada as lacking history and culture or seeking identity, I say, look at this work. Look at it and be thankful that, thanks to Bill Reid, you can show your children there have been people here for thousands of years, across the breadth of this land, telling stories that belong to this land.
To anyone who is devastated by the legacy of Residential Schools and other racist traumas, look at this work. Know that it stands firm and clear and beautiful, an undeniable testimony to life and renewal, which is a universal human drive.
How marvelous that this work was made by a man who carried both indigenous and immigrant heritage. His life is the story of Canada’s history; he was the child of both indigenous and immigrant people, born during the time when the ceremonies of his mother’s people were outlawed by his father’s people. He became a journalist, a broadcaster, a poet, a goldsmith, a teacher and of course, an inspired sculptor. A man who lived to carry various names, a great honour among Haida people; one of his names is Solitary Raven. And like that Raven, his works call us to account for the will to live.
I will learn, and teach my family about Iljuwas Yalth Scwansang, Bill Reid, the Solitary Raven.I hope you will be moved to learn and teach about him, too.
In other news, congratulations to Jocelyne Verret and Ariane Mahryke Lemire, who will be featured in a Radio Canada television documentary on March 14th.
And to Kathy Fisher and the Coyote Collective, whose ‘facing north’ exhibit of visual and sound art opens March 7th at VAAA Gallery.
And on March 8th, Canadian Literary Centre/Centre de littérature canadienne
presents An evening of Inuit Spoken Word and Literature with Mosha Folger and MC Geothermal.
Just a few of the many exciting cultural events happening in this beautiful town of ours.
Get on out there and love it!
To Mary, to Robbie, to the Joy of Poetry
Hello, Poetry Fans.
In this dark season of the year, I’m sad to start with news of a loss in our community.
The marvelous Mary Woodbury passed away this week. Writers all over the city are paying tribute, and she will be formally memorialised this weekend.
My last encounter with Mary was in November; the occasion, Leonard Cohen’s amazing concert. She and Rita Espeschit drove to our house, we cabbed it together from there.
She enlivened our journey to and from the concert with her sharp and spirited observations; that concert was a truly magnificent event, and I feel so blessed to have had her company on that occasion.
But of course, first of all she had to stop in and say “hello” to her piano. It’s been my honour and pleasure to host her piano for a year and a bit now. In this way, she has been instrumental (yeah, I know) in my realising a lifelong dream. At last, I can play piano. A little late for a concert career, but, as Mary’s life attested, too old to learn is a lame excuse. She was never lame.
But a lot of you knew her much better than I did, and can speak of her many achievements and gifts to our community. What a magnificent person.
In other news, please check out the Human Library event at EPL this Saturday. I’ll be one of the choices this year on the shelf, nervous as the teenage wallflower I once was; books probably never wonder if anyone’s going to check them out… If you do check me out, go ahead, ask me about adventures in gigging.
I will tell you a couple of good stories, including the Winfield ChickenCoop Incident, and the Ballad of Jean-Yves Two String.
Thanks to many such adventures, I wasn’t much worried when Tuesday, I arrived for my guest spot at The Olive Reading Series, to find the sound system not working and the sound guy not there, not planning to come fix it.
Thea (who works there in another capacity), Jamie, and the music gal in the hat (both out for a night of entertainment and relaxation) jumped right in there, and we eventually rerigged it to work. Thanks, intrepid ladies.
And thanks, as I’ve thought many times over the years, to Peter McClure, Peter Gerrie and Mel Geary, from whom I took classes in tech stuff; and to the inimitable Perry Harris, from whom I learned what can-do plus duct tape and a wrench can accomplish.
To get back to the reading, it was fun. If you get a hankering for poetry and beer, go down to the Empress on Whyte when the Olive holds one of their monthly sessions. You’ll get to hear – one way or another – poets invited by the editorial board – Thank You All - who also see to it that guest poets have a selection of work made into a chapbook. Free chapbooks, featuring the poet of the night. That’s pretty nice. And Adam Wilson, who designs these little beauties, does a fine job of it. Had I had more than a week to prepare text for it, I’d have done more justice to his craftsmanship. Or not – us poets, we are always tinkering with our words. The Master himself, Leonard Cohen, once admitted to rewriting things for decades.
At any rate, the most satisfying thing was to have such a lively and engaged audience, in a warm and funky room. It seemed the sort of spot where ole Robbie Burns himself might have turned up to share a rhyme or two, in his day.
On which note, I close by wishing you all a happy Robbie Burns Day. Whether you’re Scottish or just a fan of observant, soulful, “warm reekin’ rich” writing, Friday is the day to celebrate the 254th anniversary of his birth.
At our house, we’ll be celebrating with friends. The master of the house will render the Address to the Haggis, which we make by hand. I, for my part, will offer the Affirmation of the Bean. “What’s that?” – you say. Look for the answer at the Human Library this weekend.
Stay warm, stay lively.
All My Relations
Standing Together, Walking Forward in the Wind
Hello, Poetry Fans. I hope your 2013 is shaping up well. Here’s to a year of poetic potential, and the many ways we may find beauty in the seasons now before us.
Today, January 11th, is a Global Day of Action by the little movement called Idle No More. Stirring up a bit of wind, they are. It’s exciting.
As Poet Laureate, it’s my job to celebrate Poetry and Culture. I find it deeply poetic that so many people are getting together to seek and proclaim the Truth of our History, our Present Moment, and the options for our shared road ahead.
I find it poetic that there is a confusion of voices, large and small, clashing and contesting.
That’s poetry, however it all unfolds.
Here’s a link to some relevant poetry written by young Edmonton artists and activists, and sent to me by Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon:
“I want to share with you a project that was inspired by Idle No More.
I asked friends across the country to contribute art and poems, and compiled them into a chapbook/zine. This happened over the course of a few days. It is to be used as a tool for sustaining dialogue, and is free for all to use and distribute. “
It is viewable online here:
And here’s a little audio file:
I’ll be spending this day with my Mom. She’s of European heritage. When she married my Dad, back in the 1950s, she had to find a place to stand repeatedly in a lot of winds. People urged her to live the lie of the day, and claim him as “French,” but she never would.
Today, I’ll be mindful of her dedication to truth, and the many ways that has enriched my life. And I’ll be mindful of the many many people, on all sides of Canada’s multiple cultural divides, who have dedicated their lives in ways large and small, public and private, to living truthfully, joyfully and kindly. What else matters?
I close with a thought from “the march this time” a poem from my own Fifth World Drum:
One day we’ll walk in solidarity with the greater circle of all our relations.
Stay warm, stay beautiful.
Anna Marie Sewell
Edmonton Poet Laureate 2011 - 13
Ichi-go, ichi-e: One life, one time meeting.*
Blue silver mauve great plains fog and frost
We each must do as we are called o do
I am where I am called to be
And I pray my way forward day by day.
Hello, Poetry Fans.
How have you been? I’ve been in the Queen City, Regina. Not a sign of Avengers bombing, for those of you who worry that comic book movies are based in reality.
I’ve been in the hospital, advocating for my mom. It’s a story that I’m sadly sure many of us know about at first hand, the struggle to keep an unwieldy system working for the people it is there to serve. Respect to her doctors, who have shown themselves to be thorough, clear and compassionate; and to Rochelle the night nurse. Without her competence, courage and initiative, my mother might have died due to blundering.
Congratulations to the new Regional Writers in Residence, Omar Mouallem(EPL) and Natasha Deen (St. Albert, Sherwood Park, and Fort Saskatchewan) who’ll be taking over the reins from Jocelyn Brown and starting a new path for the Edmonton region. This is going to be an interesting year, following these writers as they create a new web of literary connections.
Here’s a shout-out to Inspector Stuart Calliou of the Edmonton Police Service, and his quest to build programming that can make a positive difference for our community as a whole, by addressing the history of mistrust and misunderstanding between Aboriginal citizens and those in civilian policing.
And here’s to all the good people, working in every field, who get up every day and simply do their best to be of service to life. That is the essence of poetry, from where I sit.
Finally, let me rave about the Haven.
I am writing this in the afterglow of a very special evening at the Upper Crust Café. For some seven years now, the Stroll of Poets has held a weekly reading series there, in a special back room we call The Poets’ Haven.
I’ve been part of many a fine evening there. Tonight stands out.
First of all, the Abbottsfield Writers Circle of the Learning Centre Literacy Association sent 4 poets to read. In my other hat, I am their facilitator. Usually, I help them prepare for readings and presentations. This time, I was out of town.
‘Don’t worry,’ they said, ‘We’ve got it.”
And they do.
Tonight was extra-special, as we were debuting a new project. This fall, we got together with the Elizabeth Fry Society’s Tara Eden, who works with women who are incarcerated in Ft. Saskatchewan. In a meeting brokered by the Writers’ Guild’s Nichole Quiring, we came up with a plan, to exchange poetry.
Tonight, we presented the work of “Brittany” (name protected for privacy) and our poetic responses. Cynthia Bale, herself an emerging poetic talent to watch, read Brittany’s work, and Debbie Lathlin, Cheryl Luck, Theresa Varty and Phil Beakhouse read responsorial poems from themselves and James McDonald.
It was very warmly received, and I thought that was the height of the evening.
I was wrong.
After a break, Randy Kohan read. We know Randy as the unofficial founder of our circle, as he used to trade poems with Deb and with the late Ken Steele; by and by, he sent them to his wife, the Learning Centre’s Susan Skaret, and our adventures really began. So we know Randy as a friend and mentor.
Tonight, with the rest of a packed house, we witnessed his arrival as a powerful new poet. Watch for him. Listen for him. Read his words. I’m telling you, that’s a Poet.
It was a rare and fine thing, to be at the Haven tonight. Ask anyone who was there.
All My Relations,
Anna Marie Sewell
* There’s possibly a more elegant or exact way to translate the Japanese phrase, “Ichi-go, ichi-e.” I quote here the translation given to me by my office section chief at Chutan Board of Education in Japan. Nakai-kacho was an excellent colleague and mentor, who smoked the most elegant cigarettes, played killer volleyball, and did me the honour of including me in his father’s funeral. There is always only the moment we occupy, and how full that moment can be. Ichi-go, ichi-e.
Musing on Muses: November 20th, 2012
comme le contact de doigt d'un enfant à une étoile
faite de gel sur la fenêtre
Hi Poetry Fans.This has been a week of poetic richness.
Of course, there was the superb concert by own uncrowned Laureate of this modern Canadian age, the mighty master, Leonard Cohen.
78 years old. Three hours of concert, followed by several encores.
And he skipped off the stage.
What a blessing in life, to witness his life and work.
The other grand event for me was attending the Gala for the Coalition des Femmes de l’Alberta, who celebrated their 10th anniversary with a weekend conference, GenerationELLES.
Lest you think ‘What does this have to do with me, I’m not Franco-Albertan?’ let me tell you, one of their recent initiatives involves advocacy around our federal government’s moves to change eligibility for ‘old age pensions,’ an issue that impacts all Canadians.
These are some very thoughtful, engaging and involved people.
The event, at the Edmonton Inn and Convention Centre, was dogged by technical difficulties of a poltergeistian extent.
Nonetheless, it had a great feeling, as women, men and children shared a fine dinner and honoured several foundational women for their years of community service.
Then came the debut performance of Mes Muses: du Sacré au Profan, a lyrical and moving suite of poetry by Jocelyn Verret Chiasson, music by Ariane Mahryke Lemire, and art from Elaine Bergman. Look for this performance, friends. It says something when, despite constant technical disruptions, the audience remained attentive and delighted.
For my part, I brought poetic congratulations as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, and introduced the main event.
It was a great opportunity to break out in a sweat and work up some passable French, and honour some of my own muses.
Here’s the (not exactly as performed) text of my presentation.
Je suis votre Poet Laureate, et
Je est un autre,comme Artur Rimbaud a dit.
J'ai grandi comme un «autre» dans un temps et un endroit où l'autre que je représente n'a pas voulu, et certainement pas voulu comme une réussite.
Ironie du sort, mes parents ont été avisés de dire que mon père était françaisDieu merci, mes parents ont répondu, pourquoi devraient-ils avoir à mentir et de se cacher, quand c'est vous qui a le problème.
Je suis d'origine métisse, et non pas le mélange attendu de l'Ouest canadien de Cris et écossais ou le cri et le français. Les parents de ma mère a immigré de la Pologne, les parents de mon père étaient Anishnabe et Mi'gmaq. J'ai grandi entouré par des immigrants de stock scandinave et allemand.
Je sais ce que cela peut coûter à maintenir la fierté en vous-même quand vous êtes de l'autre. J'ai excellé dans mes études, et je me souviens de mon père d'avoir à affronter mon enseignant et demande qu'on me donne la note que j'avais gagné. Elle m'avait donné un «b» parce que, dit-elle, il ne serait pas juste pour moi de construire mes attentes.
Donc vous pouvez me l'imaginer, entrant premier cycle du secondaire, mes attentes étaient que je voudrais continuer à être évité socialement, et d'avoir mes succès scolaires interrogés par des enseignants qui ont peur d'accepter un métis qui pourrait bien faire.
Imaginez ma peur, le jour, quelqu'un m'a tapé dans le dos. Je n'ai pas répondu dans un premier temps. Mais alors que l'étudiant se pencha en avant et me dit tout bas: «Hé, le bouton a sauté ouvert, permettez-moi de le corriger avant que quelqu'un voit."
Trente-sept ans plus tard, elle reste l'un de mes plus chers amis. Elle et la seule autre fille chinoise à l'école sont devenus mes amis d'autant plus que nous avons partagé d'être «autre». Ils m'ont emmené dans leur cercle parce qu'ils avaient eu l'autre de compter sur des années, ils savaient que ensemble est plus forte. Et ils ont vu que, bien que j'étais différente qu'eux, nous étions semblables en ceci: ceux qui nous entourent étaient trop prévenus contre notre patrimoine pour voir notre beauté.
Ces filles et leurs familles m'ont appris à tendre la main, à atteindre pour cet endroit en chacun de nous, où nous savons, comme Rimbaud connaissait, "Je EST un autre."
Eh bien, Artur, nous sommes tous les autres. Félicitons-nous les uns les autres, pour se soutenir mutuellement, pour se regrouper afin de protéger et de défendre notre vrai moi. Et marchons vers l'avant prêt à reconnaître l'autre comme un compagnon de voyage,
à qui la beauté brille,
comme le souffle d'oraison entre cerf et lune
comme le contact de doigt d'un enfant à une étoile faite de gel
sur la fenêtre
comme le silence dans lequel nous entendons
le tambour de notre propre cœur
en écho à la chanson de toute la vie
Félicitations à la Coalition des Femmes de l'Alberta l', sur votre dixième anniversaire. Merci de me laisser entrer dans votre cercle.
All My Relations
Anna Marie Sewell
Edmonton Poet Laureate 2011 - 13
An Open Invitation to Share YOUR Voice
Anna Marie Sewell invites Edmontonians to write about what Edmonton means to them in a “Poem Catcher” located in City Hall (main floor, City Room).
The Poem Catcher is a place in City Hall for people to come and write (or draw) their thoughts and feelings about what is significant in our Edmonton. Sewell will use these words to inform and inspire poems she will write for the City during her Poet Laureate term.Sewell initiated the idea for the Poem Catcher on the dream catcher, an important symbol in her own Anishnabe heritage.
The first dream catcher was a gift from one mother to another: A spider mother asked a human mother, "Please don't break my web in your cleaning, I need it to get food for my children. If you will let me and my family live, I will show you how to weave a web that will protect your sleeping children from bad dreams, and bring them good dreams to feed their future." Since then, we've used dream catchers in that way.
“It’s perfect because, after all, a poem is like a dream…I’m asking people to give me their impressions of life here today, but also to dream about what it could be in the future. Here is a Poem Catcher, to use to gather our dreams – our visions of our City.
My job as Poet Laureate is to write poems that reflect what is important in the life of Edmonton. The Poem Catcher will help me make poetry that truly represents Edmonton."
~ Anna Marie Sewell
You can visit the Poem Catcher in City Hall, or send an online submission with your thoughts about:
- When I think of Edmonton, I think of...
- When I dream of my home, I dream of....
- This place is special to me because....
Submissions to the Poem Catcher will be accepted until the end of Sewell’s term as Poet Laureate in June 2013.
Edmonton's Past Poet Laureates
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