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Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate

Deirdre Kessler has been named the new Poet Laureate for Prince Edward Island.
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The Island’s sixth Poet Laureate is a poet, writer, and teacher. Her collections of poetry are Afternoon Horses, Subtracting by Seventeen, and Rearranging the Sky.

Ms. Kessler currently teaches children’s literature and creative writing part-time with the University of Prince Edward Island's Department of English.

Ms. Kessler plans to gather the poets laureate retired—John Smith, David Helwig, Hugh MacDonald, Dianne Morrow—for an afternoon public reading of their poems.

She also plans to work with the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada to present poems from around the world read aloud in their original languages, with brief commentaries or translations.

The post of Poet Laureate, which was established in 2002, was created to recognize long-term contributions to the literary arts in the province.

The role of the Poet Laureate is to make Islanders aware of the important role that poetry plays in the literary life of the province and to serve as a cultural ambassador.

Deirdre Kessler's biography and bibliography

Learn more about Ms. Kessler on her website

About the Poet Laureate Program

Objectives of the program:
  • to celebrate Prince Edward Island and its people;
  • to raise the profile of Prince Edward Island poets;
  • to promote a higher standard of literacy;
  • to raise public awareness of poetry and of the spoken word;
  • to create a spokesperson for literature in general and poetry in particular; and
  • to provide a focal point for the expression of PEI culture and heritage through the literary arts.

Selection criteria:

  • individual is active and recognized as a poet of stature who has published at least one volume of poetry within the last ten years with a reputable publishing house, or whose body of work over the years has brought honour to themselves and the province;
  • a full-time resident of Prince Edward Island and have been a resident of the province for at least the five years preceding the appointment.
  • Poetry produced in either the English or French language is considered in making the selection of poet laureate but age, gender and ethnic background are not considered.

Poet Laureates of Prince Edward Island

Diane Hicks Morrow 2013-2016

Hugh MacDonald 2009 to 2013

David Helwig 2008 to 2009

(Late) Frank Ledwell 2004 to 2007

John Smith 2002 to 2004




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