Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dionne Brand is city's new poet laureate - Posted Toronto

Dionne Brand is city's new poet laureate - Posted Toronto

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By Megan O'Toole, National Post

Dionne Brand, a renowned Toronto-based poet and novelist, has become the city's third poet laureate.

City council formally approved Ms. Brand's appointment on Wednesday, with Mayor David Miller saying he was "thrilled" to see the prolific and distinguished author serving in the role.

As poet laureate for the next three years, Ms. Brand will receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 while she serves as the city's literary ambassador, championing poetry and the arts.

Ms. Brand said it was an "honour" to be chosen.

"I have a great passion for this city," she said. "In its multiplicity it is constantly rich and surprising. ... that wild waiting at traffic lights off the end of the world, where nothing is simple, nothing. In the city there is no simple love or simple fidelity; the heart is slippery."

Ms. Brand has published nine volumes of poetry and earned numerous laurels, including the Governor General's Award and the Trillium Book Award. Her work is taught internationally, and she has written extensively on Toronto and the experience of new Canadians.

American poet Adrienne Rich called her "an intellectual conscience for her country."

Born in 1953, Ms. Brand immigrated to Canada about four decades ago to attend the University of Toronto, earning a Masters in education philosophy. She currently teaches English at the University of Guelph and has a new collection of poems, entitled Ossuaries, coming out next year.

Before announcing Ms. Brand's selection as poet laureate, officials said they believed the new poet laureate was someone who would have a more populist appeal than traditional appointees.

Since 2001, Toronto has had two other poets laureate: Alligator Pie author Dennis Lee held the inaugural post, followed by Italian-born poet Pier Giorgio di Cicco.

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