CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Hon. Carolyn Bertram, Minister of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, has announced the appointment of poet, editor and novelist Hugh MacDonald of Brudenell as the new poet laureate for Prince Edward Island.
With nine books to his credit as author and editor, Hugh MacDonald is perhaps best known to Islanders through his Random Acts of Poetry which, for the past five years, have brought poetry to the streets and workplaces of P.E.I. Hugh MacDonald retired after more than thirty years of service in the educational system of the province and, since 1999, has been a full-time
writer. His work has also been included in four anthologies of the best of Canadian poetry.
Mr. MacDonald has served on the executives of both the Prince Edward Island Council of the Arts and the P.E.I. Writers Guild. Recognition for his work and leadership includes awards and prizes in the P.E.I. Literary Awards, a first prize from the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, and first prize in the Atlantic Poetry competition. In 2004, he was presented with the Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Literary Arts on Prince Edward Island.
Minister Bertram said she was very pleased that Hugh MacDonald agreed to serve as the province’s poet laureate. “Mr. MacDonald is an excellent choice for the position,” she said. “He has a dedication and energy and an enthusiasm for poetry which will certainly contribute to the mission of the Poet Laureate to bring poetry into the lives of Islanders.”
Mr. MacDonald said he was looking forward to his term as poet laureate. He indicated that he felt honoured and humbled by the recognition and that he looked forward to exploring new ways of increasing knowledge of the importance of poetry. “I am delighted, in this poetry blessed province, to be chosen as the next Poet Laureate. I will do my best to add a new voice
to those of my extraordinary predecessors, Frank Ledwell, John Smith and David Helwig, and to do honour to my beloved Prince Edward Island,” said Mr. MacDonald.
The post of Poet Laureate does not have fixed duties and previous holders of the post have used a variety of approaches to making poetry a more central part of the lives of Islanders.
Minister Bertram also paid tribute to David Helwig who has completed his term. “I want to thank David Helwig for his service throughout the past two years as the Prince Edward Island Poet Laureate. The creation of the Poetry PEI website under Mr. Helwig’s direction has provided access to both the creators and readers to P.E.I. poetry both past and present. I know he
will continue to contribute to the literary heritage of our province.”
The Provincial Poet Laureate Program:
The Poet Laureate Program was established in Prince Edward Island in 2002. Past Poet Laureates are John Smith (2002 – 2004), Frank Ledwell (2004 – 2007) and David Helwig (2008-2009).
Objectives of the P.E.I. Poet Laureate Program include the following: to celebrate Prince Edward Island and its people, to raise the profile of Prince Edward Island poets and poetry in general, to promote a higher standard of literacy, and to provide for the expression of culture and heritage through the literary arts.
Selection of the Poet Laureate is based on criteria including the following: 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; and 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.