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Alumna named Winnipeg’s first Poet Laureate

December 11, 2017 — 

The Winnipeg Arts Council has named U of M alumna Di Brandt [B.A.(Hons)/1975, Cert.Ed./1981, Ph.D./1993] as the city’s Poet Laureate:

Di Brandt photo from Winnipeg Arts Council.

Di Brandt photo from Winnipeg Arts Council.

The Winnipeg Arts Council is very pleased to announce the appointment of Di Brandt as Winnipeg’s first Poet Laureate. A search was conducted in consultation with members of Winnipeg’s poetry community and Di Brandt was chosen for her artistry, experience and commitment to the community.

“Di Brandt is a wonderful choice for the inaugural position. She has a respected local, national and international profile, published a dozen acclaimed books and won many awards. 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,” says Carol A. Phillips, Executive Director, Winnipeg Arts Council.

Through the creation of new works of poetry reflecting life in the city, public appearances and the creation of public engagement programs, the Poet Laureate will contribute to Winnipeg’s reputation as a city of the arts and facilitate connections between the arts, the city, and its citizens.

Di Brandt’s bestselling, influential first collection of poetry questions i asked my mother received the Gerald Lampert Award for “best first book of poetry in Canada,” and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. questions was recently re-issued in a 30th Anniversary tribute edition, with Afterword by Tanis MacDonald.

Di Brandt’s other poetry titles include Agnes in the Sky, which received the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award; Now You Care, shortlisted for the Trillium Ontario Book of the Year Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Pat Lowther Award; and the multilingual Walking to Mojácar, with French and Spanish translations by Charles Leblanc and Ari Belathar, shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. 

Di Brandt has collaborated extensively with visual artists and musicians including Aganetha Dyck, Diana Thorneycroft, Lin Xu, Rebecca Campbell and Carol Ann Weaver, Jana Skarecky, Kenneth Nichols and others, in the creation of multidisciplinary poetic performance and installation pieces, with national and international profile.

One of Di Brandt’s contributions as the poetry ambassador to Winnipeg’s cultural community will be to host World Poetry Day events in our city in both 2018 and 2019. World Poetry Day, March 21, was established by UNESCO in 1999 to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.” The Winnipeg Arts Council looks forward to co-sponsoring these World Poetry Day events in Winnipeg with Di Brandt, along with other projects yet to be announced.  

Read an interview with Di Brandt here.


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