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Banff committee seeking new poet laureate

“Thank you for showing that amidst skiing, hiking, climbing, cycling, paddling, dining and shopping, we elevate the role of arts and culture, and particularly the literary arts, in the Banff community.”
Banff Town Hall 1
Banff Town Hall

BANFF – Banff is seeking a new poet laureate with Steven Ross Smith’s term coming to a close at the end of the year.

The Banff Poet Laureate Committee is accepting submissions until Nov. 19 for a new poet laureate, a position that acts as an ambassador for Banff’s arts community in promoting the value of poetry and overall importance of arts and culture in community life.

Outgoing poet laureate Smith thanked the committee, the Banff Public Library, the Town of Banff and private donors for supporting a poet laureate.

“It’s been an honour to hold this position,” said Smith at a Banff town council meeting in September after serving a two-and-a-half-year term which included the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thank you for showing that amidst skiing, hiking, climbing, cycling, paddling, dining and shopping, we elevate the role of arts and culture, and particularly the literary arts, in the Banff community.”

The Banff poet laureate position, which considers poets and singer-songwriters in the selection process, pays an annual honorarium of $500. The next two-year term runs from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2023.

Banff’s poet laureate is expected to participate in various events and activities during the term, fostering the reading, writing and appreciation of poetry among the general public as well as specific demographics – youth, seniors, new Canadians, First Nations.

During his time as poet laureate, Smith has carried the brand of Banff at several events across the country, including Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, the Gulf Islands and throughout the Bow Valley.

Over the course of his term, he also had more than a dozen pieces published in various magazines credited as Banff poet laureate, and conducted writing workshops and led the inaugural Banff literary walking tour.

“It’s important to note that I am not alone as a laureate and I am one of a cluster of laureates in communities all across Canada,” said Smith, who is best known for his fluttertongue poems.

In February this year, the federal parliament appointed its ninth poet laureate for Canada – Louise Bernice Halfe, also known as Sky Dancer – who is the first Indigenous writer to hold the position.

Smith is Banff’s second poet laureate. The first was Banff raised singer-songwriter Amelie Patterson.

Mayor Corrie DiManno thanked Smith for his contributions.

“Thank you for your time and talent serving as our Banff poet laureate representing us across the country,” she said. “It is so wonderful to hear about the work you’ve been doing.”

Applications for the new poet laureate can be sent to Kurt Bagnell at kurt22@shaw.ca or by mail to Kurt Bagnell, PO Box 2101, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1B9. Questions regarding the poet laureate can also be addressed by email to Kurt Bagnell.  

The Banff Poet Laureate Committee will make its selection on or about Nov. 26 and inform the successful candidate at that time. If accepted, the new poet laureate will be announced in the first week of December.