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Calgary to establish poet laureate program

Calgary City Council announced Monday that it is embarking on a program to select a poet laureate. According to Calgary Arts Development, an NGO that will be working with the city on developing, administering, and promoting the program, the poet laureate will “compose and present poetry for official City of Calgary occasions, raise awareness of local issues through commissioned works, and act as an ambassador for the arts in Calgary.”

The Calgary Herald reports that funding for the two-year post has been a subject for debate in the past three years. The program’s $10,000 yearly honorarium will be financed by grants from the private sector.

From the Herald:

While the idea flamed out three years ago over the question of spending tax dollars on a literary ambassador, this time it sailed through council 13-2, thanks largely to pledges from the Calgary Foundation and five corporate sponsors to pay for the position through 2015.

Calgary Arts Development will approve the first poet laureate  in January 2012.  Though names of candidates haven’t officially been released, there has been some speculation.

Early names being thrown about online and elsewhere include songwriter Kris Demeanor Рa favourite of Ald. Brian Pincott Рspoken-word queen Sheri-D Wilson, and University of Calgary professor Christian B̦k, whose prize-winning Eunoia is the bestselling Canadian poetry book of all time.