Calgary has a new poet laureate.
It’s Wakefield Brewster, a longtime fixture on the local poetry and spoken word scene.
Brewster’s appointment was announced at city council Tuesday.
According to the Calgary Arts Development Authority’s website, the poet laureate acts as “An ambassador of the arts to the citizens of Calgary, The Calgary poet laureate produces literary work that is reflective of Calgary’s landscape, cityscape, and civic identity and that may raise awareness of local issues.”
Brewster takes over from Natalie Meisner, and will occupy the seat through 2024.
“The poet laureate program is a wonderful way to reflect our city and its citizens through the power of words and language,” said Calgary Arts Development president and CEO Patti Pon. “We thank Natalie Meisner for her term as Calgary’s poet laureate from 2020-2022–a term that took place entirely during the pandemic. The restorative power of the arts was present in all of Natalie’s work, and particularly through her use of language to connect , compel, and heal.It is a pleasure to welcome Wakefield Brewster to the position for the next two years.Wakefield is a poet and spoken word artist with a passion and intensity that is sure to unleash a new age for poetry in our city. ”
“I cannot express how elated, flattered, grateful and honored I am to be selected as the sixth poet laureate of Calgary. In this 22-year career as a professional poet and spoken word artist, it is the single greatest publicly known milestone that I have ever achieved. With this appointment, enhancing the love of language and liberties through literacy will be paramount and prominent objectives,” said Brewster.
“As we move forward in this age of information and sharing stories, poetry is more and more becoming known and employed as a method of harnessing humanity, curating connection, and evoking empathy. Now is the time to use intentional nurturing narratives to alter the current numerous, negating ones in our world, in our countries, cities, communities, workplaces, schools, circles, families, and individual lives.The intention as a guest, speaker, storyteller, and steward of this land is to promote exactly that, a new and healing narrative through the vulnerable and exciting, visceral and engaging, vindicating and educating powers of poetry.”
Brewster has been published in several Anthologies including T-Dot Griots (Trafford on Demand Publishing, 2004), The Great Black North (Frontenac House, 2013), The Calgary Project (Frontenac House, 2014), and The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2019). Since moving to Calgary, he has produced two professional recordings to his credit: Wakefield Brewster, gives lyrical pitbull (produced by Kill Whitey Records, 2007) and east2west (produced by Spanish Fly Music, 2008).
In addition to being a professional poet and spoken word artist, Brewster is also a professional Poetic Interpreter™, as well as a three-time Calgary Poetry Slam champion and team captain (2006, 2008, 2009)
Previous Calgary poet laureates include Sheri-D Wilson (2018-20), Micheline Maylor (2016-2018), derek beaulieu (2014-16), and Kris Demeanor (2012-2014).
The position is funded by a group of poet laureate supporters, in conjunction with the Calgary Foundation and Calgary Public Library. Brewster will receive a $10,000 a year honorarium for the duration of his appointment from him.