City of Peterborough is looking for its next poet laureate

With Sarah Lewis completing her one-year term, Electric City Culture Council is accepting applications until December 16 for the city's 2023 poet laureate

Peterborough's inaugural poet laureate, spoken-word artist Sarah Lewis from Curve Lake First Nation, performed for the first time at Peterborough city council on September 27, 2021. She performed two poems, "Warrior Cry" and "Take Them Home." (Photo: Electric City Culture Council)
Peterborough's inaugural poet laureate, spoken-word artist Sarah Lewis from Curve Lake First Nation, performed for the first time at Peterborough city council on September 27, 2021. She performed two poems, "Warrior Cry" and "Take Them Home." (Photo: Electric City Culture Council)

The City of Peterborough is looking for its next poet laureate for 2023.

Administered by the Electric City Culture Council (EC3) under the guidance of the City of Peterborough’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee (ACHAC), the Peterborough Poet Laureate Program was launched as a pilot in 2021-22, with Curve Lake spoken-word artist Sarah Lewis named as Peterborough’s first-ever poet laureate.

During her tenure, Lewis — an Anishnaabe Kwe (Ojibwe/Cree) spoken-word from Curve Lake First Nation — performed or gave workshops at more than 70 events, including four official city occasions. In November 2021, she was featured in the CBC Arts series Poetic License, performing her poem “Warrior Cry” which she had earlier performed at Peterborough city council.

“The arts are one of the key components to what makes a city vibrant and lively,” Lewis says in a media release. “Humans create art, music, and poetry to protest, to disrupt, and to express their love, passions and the things we care about in this life. Not to mention that the arts have played a vital role in all thriving cultures and societies across the globe.”

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Peterborough’s city council has approved the Peterborough Poet Laureate as a permanent program, and EC3 is seeking nominations for the 2023 Peterborough Poet Laureate.

An honourary position established to recognize the excellence and outstanding achievements of professional poets living and working in Peterborough and Peterborough County, and to strengthen and enhance our civic identity, the poet laureate acts as an advocate for poetry and spoken word art, for the arts in general. The poet laureate, who receives honorarium of $2,000, must create a present a minimum of four original works to be presented at Peterborough city council meetings and other city events and occasions.

Nominations are being accepted until Friday, December 16th and will be assessed by a panel including peers in the poetry and spoken-word community, local citizens, and a city representative.
Lewis.

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Artists must be nominated by someone else; self-nominations will not be accepted. Nominees must be professional, published artists 18 years of age or older who are current residents of the city of Peterborough or Peterborough County, including Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations.

Detailed program guidelines and the nomination form are available on the EC3 website at ecthree.org/program/peterborough-poet-laureate-2023-program-guidelines-and-nomination-form/.

EC3 will be hosting a virtual nomination workshop on Zoom at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 29th. For those unable to attend the virtual workshop or for those with have accessibility needs, there will also be an in-person workshop at the Peterborough Public Library at a date and time to be announced.