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Announcing… Canada’s New Parliamentary Poet Laureate!

By Harriet Staff


It’s Michel Pleau! From The Globe and Mail

Most poets struggle to emerge out of obscurity. Canada’s newest poet laureate can already claim to have literally left a gigantic imprint on the nation’s landscape.

Michel Pleau has not only won a Governor-General’s Award and published a dozen works of poetry, he also has a place on the map: An island in Quebec’s Caniapiscau Reservoir was named after a collection of his works, La traversée de la nuit.

On Tuesday, the Quebec City resident added another entry to his résumé. He will get an annual stipend of $20,000, plus up to $13,000 in travel expenses, to be the parliamentary poet laureate.

Mr. Pleau is the sixth poet – all but one of them male – to earn the honour. It comes with a lofty title but only a vague job description. This includes writing poetry, sponsoring poetry readings and advising the Parliamentary librarian. However, none of these tasks are mandatory.

Mr. Pleau, 49, was unavailable for an interview on Tuesday. However, Benoit Morin, who manages the Parliamentary poet laureate program, said Mr. Pleau was thrilled when he learned of his nomination before Christmas. “He was very honoured and at the same time very humble,” Mr. Morin said. “He was perfectly aware it wasn’t just an honour but also a responsibility.”

Mr. Pleau was among a dozen people nominated. The list was reduced to three before the final choice was made by the speakers of the Senate and House of Commons. Among Mr. Pleau’s qualities was his extensive work teaching poetry and mentoring young people.

Official languages commissioner Graham Fraser, a member of the selection committee, praised Mr. Pleau for the “limpid and accessible style” of his work, and his comfort speaking about poetry.

“There is a kind of clarity that comes through in his poems that I found very striking,” Mr. Fraser said in an interview. He said Mr. Pleau’s candidacy revealed a sense of his “commitment to being an ambassador for literature.” […]

Congratulations Mr. Pleau! Continue reading the whole story at The Globe and Mail, here!

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.