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This article was published 11/12/2017 (1387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For the first time, Winnipeg has a poet laureate, and the Winnipeg Arts Council has selected a North Point Douglas resident for the honour.
On Nov. 28, the WAC appointed poet and teacher Di Brandt as Winnipeg’s first Poet Laureate. After a search within the local poetry community, Brandt was chosen for her expertise, talent and commitment to the arts.
The tradition of appointing poet laureates for a region dates back to ancient Greece and is meant to honour poetry as an essential public discourse that is important for the people, and also to honour the poets chosen to represent it, Brandt explained.
"I’m excited that Winnipeg has established this position. Canada has had a poet laureate position, and there are many other poet laureate positions in other cities. Winnipeg has always been a real cultural centre in the country," she continued. "Poetry has always been important to Winnipeg. It’s a great place to become a poet."
"Winnipeg is a city that’s known for its many cultural festivals and its strong community based on the cultural and literary arts."
Brandt grew up in a very artistic, poetic, family and was asked to recite poetry to her grandmother on holidays as a child. She explained that is a very common old European tradition, one that grew with her and became a passion.
Her bestselling first collection of poetry, titled questions i asked my mother, received the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for the best first book of poetry in Canada and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.
Brandt is very influential in the poetry community. She’s become a respected poet at local, national and international levels, published a dozen acclaimed books and won many awards, Carol Phillips, WAC executive director, said in a release.
"Her nominators also spoke to her impressive commitment to her community as a teacher, editor and mentor. We look forward to working with her as she champions the literary arts in Winnipeg."
When she starts in the role, she will be focusing on poetry as a way to represent Winnipeg. Most of her published works talk about her life moving from a small Mennonite community to the city. Her appointment is for two years, and she will be hosting World Poetry Day events in March of 2018 and 2019. Another partnership she will be involved with is transforming poetry into public art installations throughout the city.
The North Point Douglas poet said she’s glad the city is adding poetry to its public visual arts emergence. She explained that at one point poetry was considered the "queen of discourses and a core subject."
"I think bringing poetry back into a public space is a great way to preserve the poetic imagination which I think is important for everyone," she continued, adding many people think of poetry as a specialized way of using language. "But I think it’s a very common way of using language. We all think in metaphors and images…I think it’s a good sign for culture to be practising poetry on many different levels and for it to be a very common thing for people who are educated or not to be engaging with and not be afraid of it."
To learn more about Brandt, go to http://winnipegarts.ca/wac/news-article/poet-laureate-november-17
Community journalist — The Times
Ligia Braidotti was the community journalist for The Times until 2019.