Skip to content

Banff names new poet laureate

“After decades of being a writer and teacher, I love talking to people about writing, poetry, and exploring what writing can be."
20211221 Poet Laureate 0011
Derek Beaulieu, Banff's new poet laureate poses for a portrait at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff on Tuesday (Dec. 21). EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

BANFF – Banff has a new poet laureate.

The Banff Poet Laureate Committee has named Derek Beaulieu to the position for a two-year term beginning in January.

Beaulieu, who was Calgary’s poet laureate from 2014-2016 and is currently director of literary arts at The Banff Centre, said he is thrilled and honoured to be chosen.

“After decades of being a writer and teacher, I love talking to people about writing, poetry, and exploring what writing can be,” he said.

“To me, writing – and especially poetry – is a very generative and generous art form; it can help explore and challenge our assumptions, it can be fun, it can be so much more than what we are often taught in schools. It’s play with language.”

The poet laureate role is important for towns and cities of any size as it presents to the wider conversation how vital the arts are.

Beaulieu said the arts, and in this case the literary arts, is about exploration, discovery, play, learning, sharing, and “expressing who we are and what surprises and thrills us.”

“Banff has a long history of writing and art and I am eager to work with the Town to explore the poetic possibilities of our home and community,” he said.

Beaulieu is the author or editor of more than 25 collections of poetry, prose, and literary criticism. His most recent volume of fiction, a, A Novel, was published by France’s Jean Boîte Editions, his most recent volume of poetry, Surface Tension, is forthcoming from Coach House Books in Fall of 2022.

Beaulieu studied contemporary Canadian poetics at the University of Calgary and Creative Writing at Roehampton University in London, U.K. His work has appeared internationally in small press publications, magazines, and visual art galleries. He has lectured on small press politics, arts funding and literary community in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Iceland.

He has won multiple local and national awards for his teaching and dedication to students.

Many cities and towns across Canada have a poet laureate. 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.

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.

Beaulieu said he brings to this role decades of being a writer and teacher, speaker and poet.

“I thrive on workshops and classroom visits, readings and conversations – and the opportunity to share my excitement with the wider community,” he said.

Beaulieu acknowledged Banff’s previous laureates, Steven Ross Smith and Amelie Patterson, thanking them for their creativity and legacy of artistic engagement.

He said he is excited to share his enthusiasm for poetry with residents and visitors.

“Banff’s streets and pathways, schools and centres, have always inspired imagination; I look forward to being part of that ongoing dialogue,” he said.