Fred Wah named Canadian laureate

(c) Lawrence Schwartzwald

We at Jacket2 happily take note of this news report — among others, of course — announcing the selection of Fred Wah as “parliamentary poet laureate” of Canada. The photograph here was taken by Lawrence Schwartzwald.

Saskatchewan writer Fred Wah named parliamentary poet laureate
Winnipeg Free Press, December 21, 2011 

OTTAWA - Saskatchewan-born writer Fred Wah has been appointed as the new parliamentary poet laureate.

Wah is the fifth poet to hold the office.

He replaces Pierre DesRuisseaux, whose two-year term expired earlier this year.

The post was created in 2001, with a mandate to write poetry, especially for use in Parliament on important occasions, to sponsor poetry readings and advise the parliamentary library.

The poet is appointed by the Speaker of the Commons and Senate on the recommendation of a selection committee which included, among others, the commissioner of official languages and the head of the Canada Council.

Wah is a well-known poet who won a Governor General's Award in 1986 and is on the faculty of the Banff Centre for the Arts.

“As a distinguished poet, editor, and teacher Fred Wah is known across Canada for his interest in a range of subjects,” said Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella. “Mr. Wah brings forth a collaborative approach and unique perspective to his work inspiring younger poets, students and others both nationally and internationally with his reflections on Canadian culture.”

Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer said Wah's work is grounded in the country's political and social landscapes. “He has done much to encourage and promote the importance of literature, culture and language within Canadian society.”

In addition to being an award-winning poet, Wah is a professor emeritus of the University of Calgary and a past president of the Writers Union of Canada.

He said he is grateful for the opportunity offered by the laureate's post.

“My work as parliamentary poet laureate will continue to engage poetry as it represents our homes and migrations, our questions of history and identity,” he said in a release.

The job comes with an annual stipend of $20,000, plus up to $13,000 in travel expenses and a budget for programming, administrative expenses and translation.