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.
The creation of this position confirms the city's support for the arts in general, and for the literary arts in particular.
A jury, assembled by the Edmonton Arts Council, selects a new Poet Laureate every two years.
Edmonton 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
The Edmonton Poet Laureate will receive an honorarium of $10,000 for each year of their term.
The Poet Laureate retains copyright to original materials produced in their official capacity.
The Poet Laureate retains the right to sell and otherwise use poetry created in their official capacity, however the City will retain exclusive rights to at least one of the Poet's poems each year, until the Poet Laureate's term expires. The City agrees to use said poem(s) exclusively as a tool to promote awareness and literacy, not for financial gain.
Across Canada today, there are Poet Laureates representing cities such as Toronto and Brantford in Ontario, Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. John's, Newfoundland, as well as the Province of Saskatchewan and the Government of Canada.