Now is the time for Clarke’s national rhyme

George Elliott Clarke
George Elliott Clarke

Dr. George Elliott Clarke is Canada’s seventh parliamentary poet laureate.
He succeeds Michel Pleau whose two-year term ended Dec. 31.
“I’m humbled and honoured, inspired and eager,” Clarke said in a statement.
Parliament established the post in 2001 to draw attention to the reading and writing of poetry.
Clarke, who won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for his book Execution Poems, is an accomplished playwright and literary critic and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
He has also published numerous articles including Gospel of Nanny-of-the-Maroons and Does (Afro) Caribbean-Canadian Literature Exist in the Caribbean?
In 2009, he was co-recipient of the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations from the City of Toronto for his outstanding achievements and commitment in making a distinct difference in racial relations.
Camera readers may recall Clarke’s poem How We Made the Grade and the 300 T-shirts printed for the Walk of Excellence 2014 as gifts for graduates of four secondary schools in Jane and Finch.
He received the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize (2005) for Odysseys Home, mapping African-Canadian literature and the history of the African Diaspora.
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 cultural collection and other duties at the request of the two speakers or the librarian.
Clarke, who lives in Toronto and teaches literature at U of T, recently ended his tenure as Toronto’s poet laureate.