Current Ottawa Poet Laureates
About The City of Ottawa’s Poet Laureate Program
In 2017, City Council approved funding for the renewal of a Poet Laureate Program for the City of Ottawa. There are two current Ottawa poet laureates – one English, one French – each appointed to serve a two year term. Their mandate is to act as Ottawa’s artistic ambassador, to promote the literary arts, and to advance Ottawa’s unique voice in the world.
Each Poet Laureate receives an annual honorarium of $5,000, as well as another $5,000 to fund various poetry-related programs and events.
The official announcement of Ottawa’s poets laureate occurs in March at VERSeFest, Ottawa’s International Festival of Poetry.
History of Ottawa’s Poet Laureate Program
Before the present incarnation of a bilingual Poet laureate program, Ottawa had an unilingual poet laureate program between 1982 and 1990. The city’s last poet laureate under this program was Patrick White, who succeeded Cyril Dabydeen. The city’s first poet laureate was Catherine Ahearn. After an almost 30-year hiatus, City Council in consultation with VERSe Ottawa resurrected and augmented the Poet Laureate program.