Poetry is Public (is Poetry)

Anita Chong just snapped some photos of the new Poetry is Public is Poetry installation outside the Toronto Reference Library. This installation, a co-effort of the Toronto Public Library and the city’s Cultural Services and Transportation Services division, is the brainchild of new Toronto Poet Laureate Dionne Brand.

From the project’s website: On August 26, 2010 a new Poet Laureate initiative, Poetry is Public is Poetry, creatively showcases and celebrates the work of Canadian poets. On a series of six panels located in front of the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), passages from 34 prominent writers artistically intertwine with the panel’s visual backgrounds, which were created by internationally known graphic designer and illustrator Frank Viva.

This ambitious public art and written word project features verses by; Lillian Allen, Margaret Atwood, Ronna Bloom, Roo Borson, Dionne Brand, Jason Camlot, Leonard Cohen, Lorna Crozier, Daniel David Moses, Don Domanksi, Stan Dragland, George Elliott Clarke, Catherine Graham, Phil Hall, Angela Hibbs, Eve Joseph, Ehab Lotayef, David W. McFadden, Don McKay, Steve McOrmond, Anne Michaels, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Motion, Michelle Muir, Michael Ondaatje, Joanne Page, Alison Pick, Maureen Scott Harris, Anne Simpson, Sue Sinclair, John Steffler, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Paul Vermeersch and Jan Zwicky.

Our fearless laureate had the following thoughtful things to say about the project, at the unveiling:

This project seeks to counterpoint, regenerate and re-engage in the communal in a way that only poetry can. Committing verses tangibly to the public space will enrich the interior life of the citizens. Poetry beautifies public space, pays respect to the intelligence of the citizenry, gives respite from the grind of daily living and engages the city’s humanistic ideals.

Poetry is Public is Poetry will help transform Toronto’s public realm into an illuminating forum for the written word. Part of the Poet Laureate’s legacy project, this ongoing program merges poetry with public art to claim permanent public space for Canadian poetry on Toronto walkways.

Ms Brand proposed, and is developing this idea in the belief that poets have contributed enormously to the city’s sense of itself but that their contribution is not always apparent in the public sphere. Recognizing that poetry is essentially a private act – conceived, written and often read alone – makes expanding poetry into the public realm an exciting challenge. The physicality of the text provides a reflective dialogue that can serve as a catalyst for providing a sense of well being, identity and even happiness.

A good day to live in Toronto. Perhaps even more so with the context-marker given by this Toronto Sun cover story on the villainy of artist housing. The last photo is a close-up of my contribution (thanks, Anita!), nuzzled all up in there next to Uncle Lenny. It’s from a suite of riddles called “Riddles for Lester B. Pearson International Airport, which are in the new book. There’s more photos, you can track them down on the Facebook over here.

Edit: Having now posted these photos, I see the proximity of posts in this particular WordPress design will make it look like Glenn Beck (below, if you’re reading this from the main Vox Pop page) spoke at the Poetry is Public event. To clarify, he did not. We called but he was booked.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Canadian Literature, Collaborations, Poems in the Wider World, Toronto Poetry Cult

4 Comments on “Poetry is Public (is Poetry)”


  1. […] Mooney from Vox Populism has posted a couple of photos of the Poetry is Public is Poetry display at the Toronto Reference Library. It’s a project run by Dionne Brand, the poet […]

  2. gary thompson Says:

    New diagnosis Toronto Voodoo Death (TVD)
    Cause: living in fear of the real & imagined. Therefore not living
    Symptoms: loss of all reasoning; failure to comprehend simple logic; can’t foresee the consequences of their actions
    Infectiuos pandemic to Toronto & area.
    Other disorders secondary Manifestations of TVD
    Treatment recommendations: teach patient the mysteries, where all wisdom emanates
    Emergency treatmen: pump air into their heads. a little tongue in cheek

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