Created in 2001 as part of the Parliament of Canada Act.
To encourage and promote the importance of literature, culture and language in Canadian society;
To draw Canadians’ attention to poetry, both spoken and written, and its role in our lives.
Many countries around the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States have appointed official poets laureate to help expand the understanding and appreciation for written poetry. Canada has also recognized this through the creation of this position.
Nominated candidates must meet eligibility and selection criteria . In order to give equal representation to Canada’s two official languages, Poets Laureate are selected alternately from each official language community. Literary artists working in oral traditions are also eligible.
The Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons choose the final candidate from a list of nominees determined by the Selection Committee which includes;
- the Commissioner of Official Languages
- the Librarian and Archivist of Canada
- Chair, Canada Council for the Arts, represented by the Director and CEO and,
- the Parliamentary Librarian as chair
The poet receives an annual stipend of $20,000, up to $13,000 in travel expenses annually and a budget for programming, administrative expenses and translation/adaptation of works into Canada’s second official language.
The Poet Laureate may create work in either official language, and the poetry may be translated/ adapted into the other official language.
The intellectual property of all work published remains with the Parliamentary Poet Laureate.
The Library of Parliament is the steward for the Parliamentary Poet Laureate.
*The Poet determines his or her specific activities within these parameters.