Poet Laureate of Toronto Anne Michaels with CBC's Gill Deacon sit at a table on stage with mics in their hands

Poet Laureate of Toronto Anne Michaels Likes to Party [Article | Video]

As Poet Laureate of Toronto Anne Michaels is actively promoting our common heritage not just through poetry but via projects involving youth, language, art, music, history and the outdoors. In other words, she plans a great party. At the Toronto Book Awards on Tuesday, Michaels announced several projects she has underway, one of which is happening this weekend.

Video: Anne Michaels and CBC’s Gill Deacon at the Toronto Book Awards

To be recognized by your city is a great honour says Michaels.  “It’s been a fantastic first year,” since she took on the role of poet laureate of the city.

As the ambassador of all things poetry in Toronto, one of the things that she is planning is a city-wide poem to be written by highschool students to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial – Toronto’s contribution to the country’s biggest and longest party in 2017.

All students will contribute 10 lines. We will gather the 150 best. The 10 best lines will be read by the students at an event at City Hall and will be published as a deck of cards, so “no one is at the beginning and no one is at the end,” says Michaels.

The Toronto District School Board Professional Library refers to this as a “poem in a box” that symbolizes equity and diversity.

“We speak 140 languages, some people say we speak 160 languages and soon we will be speaking 180 languages in the city,” says Michaels.  What’s special about that, she says, is that “those languages carry our literature.”

We will get the opportunity to celebrate language diversity through upcoming events at the Toronto Reference Library. There will undoubtedly be a party, albeit in a library.

One of the things that she draws inspiration from is the ability to bring those groups together through her role as poet laureate, not just to create in English but in their home languages and to share experiences – through events, also know as parties.

Gill Deacon, host of CBC’s Here and Now (99.1 FM), and host of the Toronto Book Awards on Tuesday, asked Michaels the inevitable question, “When is your next book coming out?”

“It’s closing in on a decade now,” Michaels says, since her last book but something is in the works”. She announced that a new book of poetry is coming out next year and she is hard at work on a novel – has been for the last 10 years – although she has done a lot of things in between, she adds. We can’t wait to help her celebrate at the book release party.

In the meantime, she continues with the work in her appointed role. Michaels created a show with singer/songwriter David Sereda to mark the centenary of Tom Thomson’s death. The artist and his work will be celebrated through original songs, Thomson’s own letters, and the literature of his time. The Woods Are Burning: A Celebration of Tom Thomson will be set against a backdrop of autumn colours at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works.

“He lived and worked in those ravines and all those famous paintings, those iconic paintings were painted two kilometres from where we’ll be,” Michaels says, referring to Thomson.

Musicians Ken Whiteley, Tyler Wagler, Keira McArthur, and Sandra Swannell will perform at the event. This party will start outside and end up inside.

What are the odds that she’s at a party right now?

Visit the site for details:
The Woods Are Burning: A Celebration of Tom Thomson
Evergreen Brick Works
Oct 16 and 17, 2016

Poetry in a Box:
Registration form for secondary school administrators and students

Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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