Poet Laureate Program

Ambassador for writing in general, poetry in particular and for the SWG.

History 

Commencing in 2000, the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Program was the first provincial program of its kind in Canada. Originally a partnership between the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Saskatchewan Book Awards, the SWG assumed sole responsibilty for the Poet Laureate program in 2019 and is under the patronage of the Lieutenant Governor, His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty.

The SWG redesigned the program in 2019 to continue the tradition of honouring Saskatchewan poets and poetry community while adding the new position of Youth Poet Laureate and exciting new community engagement opportunities.

Objectives 

  1. To celebrate the spirit of the people and place of Saskatchewan through the literary arts.
  2. To raise the profile of poets in Saskatchewan.
  3. To elevate writing as a vocation.
  4. To raise awareness of the power of poetry and the spoken word.
  5. To act as an Ambassador for writing in general, poetry in particular and for the SWG.

Criteria 

The Poet Laureate will:

  • have a significant body of work, including a minimum of two books of professionally published poetry;
  • have achieved recognition for the literary merit of his/her work;
  • have a record of public involvement in the literary life of the province; and
  • be a current resident of Saskatchewan.

The Youth Poet Laureate will:

  • demonstrate a commitment to writing, with a passion for poetry and/or spoken word;
  • have some record of public involvement in the writing culture of the province;
  • have some form of formal or informal professional development;
  • be between the ages of 18-25 years old; and
  • be a current resident of Saskatchewan.

Current Poet Laureate - Carol Rose GoldenEagle 

Carol Rose GoldenEagle, is an award-winning novelist, poet, and journalist with over 30 years experience of bringing stories to life. She has been a mentor, artist-in-residence, workshop facilitator and featured storyteller. In 2017 GoldenEagle’s book Bearskin Diary (2017) was chosen as the national title for the Aboriginal Literature Award, and shortlisted for three Saskatchewan Book Awards. The French language translation of this novel, entitled Peau D’ours won a 2019 Saskatchewan Book Award, the Prix du Livre Français. Her first poetry book, Hiraeth (2019), was shortlisted for the 2019 Saskatchewan Book Awards, and Narrows of Fear (2020) was a 2021 Saskatchewan Book Awards winner. Her other works include Bone Black (2019), and Essential Ingredients, which will be released by Iananna Publications in 2021. Her works touch on topics from parenthood to Indigenous teachings and culture. Regarding her words, GoldenEagle says, “What we write may be the very medicine that someone else needs. I encourage those who embrace the written word to not censor their thoughts and feelings, and experiences. It is a purging of truth and wisdom, often in the form of poetry which can be ingested and shared by those who read and thereby experience and remember.”

 

The Poet Laureate selection committee noted GoldenEagle has a “long history of interacting with students, from K to 12, who are eager to learn more about reconciliation, how to honour our past with respect to Canadian history, and how to move forward. Connecting through culture, learning about history and understanding is one way to strengthen a collective community. Writing is a part of this.” They say they “are moved by her energy, passion, and the import of her work. She will be a tremendous ambassador.”

Youth Poet Laureate  - Warsha Mushtaq

Warsha Mushtaq, is a first-year student at the University of Saskatchewan, and a poet, environmentalist and amateur astronomer. She has been part of the Sage Hill Teen Writing Experience, a former Editor-in-Chief of The Muse, and a participant in SWG workshops. As well, Mushtaq is an avid climate activist and community leader. Mustaq says, “Through my writing, I hope to journey deeply into the natural world—where questions of what it means to be human, to be animal, to be plant or fungi, to be celestial body, to be other and to be art are tangibly in the air.” For Mushtaq, poetry and nature are a source of healing.

 

The selection committee noted that Mushtaq “believes great poetry and science is visionary, capable of opening our eyes to the complexity and beauty of the world. Beauty is evident in every aspect of her application. Recipient of the University of Saskatchewan's Best and Brightest Scholarship, awarded on the basis of character, leadership, and community service, her incredible commitment to social justice, climate justice, and regenerative initiatives on a local, national and international level is matched by her involvement in the writing community and the deep attention to language in her wonderfully accomplished and engaging poems. Our eyes opened wide with excitement and hope. Yours will too.”

Current and previous Poet Laureates

  • Carol Rose GoldenEagle, August 1, 2021 - present
  • Bruce Rice, April 1, 2019 - July 31, 2021
  • Brenda Schmidt, April 1, 2017 - December 31, 2018
  • Gerry Hill, January 1, 2016 - January 17, 2017
  • Judith Krause, January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2015
  • Don Kerr, January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2013
  • Robert Currie, January 1, 2007 - December 31, 2010
  • Louise B. Halfe (Sky Dancer), January 1, 2005 - December 31, 2006
  • Glen Sorestad, December 1, 2000 - November 30, 2004 

Current and previous Youth Poet Laureates

  • Warsha Mushtaq, August 1, 2021 - present
  • Peace Akintade, August 1, 2020 - July 31, 2021
  • Alasdair Rees, April 1, 2019 - July 31, 2020

Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Reads in Support of Voices Against Racism

The terrible events that triggered unrest in the U.S. in 1968, and the protests occurring now, are distressingly similar. Racism, police brutality, and inequality are still with us as the current protests and calls for action in the US, Canada and around the world show. On Thursday, June 10 at 7 pm CST, watch as Bruce Rice, Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate, reads from a section of The Vivian Poems: Street Photographer Vivian Maier, titled “1968” on the Radiant Press Facebook page.  This event is in support of today’s voices for change, and in honour of those who led the way.
 

Reading YouTube Link


If your organization or writers’ group would like to work with the Poet Laureate or Youth Poet Laureate, we encourage you to contact the Program Manager to discuss your idea:

Program Manager
T: 306.791.7743
E: programs@skwriter.com

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