George Elliot Clarke has been named Toronto poet laureate by city council. Of African and Mik’maq descent, Clarke’s heritage has been key in informing and inspiring his many works. As well as lending his unique voice to what he refers to as ‘Africadia,’ Clarke is also recognized as a top authority on black Canadian literature. He has been teaching Canadian and African diasporic literature at the University of Toronto since 1999.
As poet laureate of Toronto, Clarke will be the city’s official literary ambassador and champion for local poets and writers, as well as initiating a new literary legacy project for the citizens of Toronto.
“I look forward to the stimulating challenge of imagining words of beauty and emotion that might possibly mirror and echo the multicultural mosaic that is Toronto the Great,” Clarke said on the occasion of his appointment.
“George Elliott Clarke will enrich the Poet Laureate position with his many talents and accomplishments,” said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), chair of the city’s Economic Development Committee. “In addition to the accolades he has received as a poet and playwright, his dedication to education and his tremendous support of Canadian writers and the literary community has been nationally recognized by his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada.”
Clarke succeeds Dionne Brand to become the city’s fourth poet laureate.