Headlines (News Releases)
Laurier professor treats Waterloo city councillors to poetry
Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
Apr 16/12| For Immediate Release
Tanis MacDonald, Associate Professor
Kevin Crowley, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
WATERLOO – Laurier’s Tanis MacDonald, associate professor in the Department of English and Film Studies, was chosen to read her poem “Grand River Day Trip with Pauline Johnson, 1889” during a Waterloo City Council meeting April 23.
The poetry reading is part of the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge project, which encourages municipal councils across Canada to take a few minutes in their council meetings to recognize the poets in their communities, the contribution of poetry to the arts in Canada, and the enormous contribution of small publishers to the history and cultural development of Canada.
“I am very excited to read in the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge, especially since poetry in our region has a long and honourable history,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald is choosing to read her poem about 19th-century Canadian poet Pauline Johnson, a part-Mohawk poet from Brantford who gained international fame for her writing and poetry performances. She was also a skilled canoeist, and MacDonald’s poem re-imagines Johnson on the Grand River, with poetry and canoeing as twinned practices.
“Having the chance to read this poem during the Waterloo City Council meeting will emphasize the importance of Indigenous heritage in the region as well as the powerful place of the arts as an engine of culture,” she said.
MacDonald is the author of three books of poetry: Rue the Day (Turnstone Press, 2008), Fortune (Turnstone, 2003) and Holding Ground (Seraphim, Editions 2000). She has published poetry, personal essays and short fiction in Canadian literary magazines for the last twenty years, and won the Bliss Carman Poetry Award in 2003.
The Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge was initiated by Pat Fiacco, mayor of Regina, Saskatchewan. Fiacco sent a letter to the mayors of 70 Canadian cities, challenging each to have a poet from the community read a poem during the formal proceedings of a council meeting. The project is being led by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild in partnership with the League of Canadian Poets, and is one of many programs taking place for National Poetry Month in April.
Poets reading for other Ontario cities include: Penn Kemp to the London City Council, Stefan A. Rose to Kitchener City Council and Priscila Uppal to Toronto City Council.