POLITICS

George Elliott Clarke, Nova Scotia Writer, Named Parliamentary Poet Laureate

01/05/2016 03:24 EST | Updated 01/05/2016 03:59 EST

OTTAWA — George Elliott Clarke, a much-honoured Nova Scotia writer, has been named the country's seventh parliamentary poet laureate.

He succeeds Michel Pleau, whose two-year term ended Dec. 31.

Clarke's appointment was announced jointly by Senate Speaker George Furey and Commons Speaker Geoff Regan.

george elliott clarke

George Elliott Clarke (Photo: Rex Features)

The appointment was recommended by a selection committee chaired by parliamentary librarian Sonia L'Heureux and composed of Guy Berthiaume, the librarian and archivist of Canada, Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser and Pierre Lassonde, chair of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Clarke won the 2001 Governor General's Award for Poetry for his book, "Execution Poems."

He is also an accomplished playwright and literary critic and is an officer of the Order of Canada.

"George Elliott Clarke has been a true ambassador of the work of Canadian poets," Furey said in a statement. "His contribution to Canada's cultural fabric is exceptional."

Regan called him a versatile and engaging writer who "will bring great honour to the position."

"His contribution to Canada's cultural fabric is exceptional."

Clarke is a seventh-generation Canadian of African-American and Mi'kmaq heritage, who work has explored the African experience in Canada.

"I'm humbled and honoured, inspired and eager," he said in a statement.

Parliament established the post in 2001 to draw attention to the reading and writing of poetry.

The poet laureate's duties include composing poetry for use in Parliament on occasions of state, sponsoring poetry readings, advising the parliamentary librarian on the library's cultural collection and related duties at the request of the two Speakers or the librarian.

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