Poet Laureate

Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate is an honour bestowed to a St. John’s poet as a way of acknowledging all poets and poetry and the value of their contribution to civic life. Through the Poet Laureate we recognize poetry, and all art, as a fundamental and necessary component of civic society. The Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador for poetry and by doing so integrates poetry into a range of official and unofficial civic events.

National Poetry Month

To view poetry readings by local poets in celebration of National Poetry Month, featured as part of Council Meetings throughout April, please visit the City of St. John's - YouTube

2019-2022: Mary Dalton

Mary Dalton is Professor of English at Memorial University where she teaches academic and creative-writing courses. Her poems, reviews, essays and interviews have been published in journals and anthologies in Canada, England, Ireland, America, and Belgium. She has read her poems at universities and festivals in Canada, the U.S.A., and Ireland. She has given many workshops for writers in St. John's and elsewhere. She is a former editor and co-publisher of the NL literary journal TickleAce and of the journal Newfoundland Studies. In 2009 she founded the SPARKS Literary Festival at Memorial.

Dalton has published five volumes of poetry. A collection of her prose writings, Edge: Essays, Reviews, Interviews, was published by Palimpsest Press in 2015. Her third letterpress chapbook, Waste Ground, was released in 2017 by Running the Goat Press. She is near completing a new volume of poems, with the working title The Sideways Nod.

Dalton's poetry has received various awards, including the TickleAce/Cabot Award for Poetry in 1998. Merrybegot won the E. J. Pratt Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the Winterset Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Poetry Award, and the 2005 NL Heritage and History Award. Red Ledger was shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the E. J. Pratt Poetry Award. Hooking was shortlisted for the CBC Bookies Award, the J.M. Abraham Award for 2014, and the inaugural Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry in 2014. Hooking was also included on the 2017 CanLit150 list by the Toronto Word on the Street Festival. Dalton’s latest publication, The Vernacular Strain in Newfoundland Poetry, was released spring 2022 by Breakwater Books as part of their Pratt Lecture series.

2014-2017: George Murray
George Murray, St. John's Poet LaureateGeorge Murray is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently: Diversion (ECW), Whiteout (ECW), Exit Strategy (Kilmog), The Rush to Here (Nightwood), and The Hunter (McCelland & Stewart). He has also published one book of aphorisms, Glimpse (ECW), and two books for children in the Wow Wow and Haw Haw series (Breakwater).

His poetry and fiction has appeared in many journals, magazines, and anthologies in Canada, the US, the UK, Europe, and New Zealand and Australia, including: Granta, London Magazine, New American Writing, Mid-American Review, Iowa Review, Fiddlehead, Prairie Fire, PRISM International, and Riddle Fence.

His journalism and prose also has appeared in a wide range of mainstream magazines and newspapers, including The Globe and Mail, Reader's Digest, National Post, the Telegram, and many others. He is a former poetry editor of the Literary Review of Canada, and has been a contributing editor for several magazines, including Maisonneuve, Canadian Notes and Queries, and the Drunken Boat. George lives in St. John's with his wife and their four children. 

2010-2013: Tom Dawe
Tom Dawe is one of the most respected poets in the country. His poems have appeared in journals all over the world. The themes of Tom Dawe's work are universal. His writing deals with resettlement, artistic creation, religion, folklore, mutability, continuity, and family. His work includes fiction, folklore, dramatic script and children's literature. He has an extensive career as a poet, author, educator, artist, editor and advocate for the literary arts. The winner of many awards and honours in arts and letters, he was recently awarded an honourary membership into the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Hall of Honour. On May 14th of this year, he won the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for his children's book, Moocher in the Lun. His work has been studied in schools and colleges around the world. Rewriting Newfoundland Mythology: The Works of Tom Dawe, a book by Martina Seifert, was published in Germany and in Cambridge, MA, in 2002. He has been hailed by distinguished literary analysts as one of the most important poets writing in Newfoundland today.

Mr. Dawe has a history of collaborating with other artists and writers. It is this experience that tipped the scales in his favour as the choice for Poet Laureate. His is a founding editor of TickleAce and one of the co-founders of Breakwater Books.

Mr. Dawe was born in Long Pond, Conception Bay South. He studied at Memorial University and taught in rural high schools before he was appointed to the Department of English at Memorial.

2006-2009: Agnes Walsh
Agnes Walsh, a resident of St. John’s, was born in Placentia and studied Folklore and Literature at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has several books of poetry published and has been published in literary journals and national and international anthologies of poetry. She has read her poetry in hundreds of live performances in St. John’s, Portugal, Ireland, and the US.  She has also presented her work on radio and film and has recently recorded a CD.  She is also a playwright and runs the Tramore Theatre Company.
Ms. Walsh has won numerous awards including the Ambassador of Hospitality Award from Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, has won Arts and Letters Competitions in the province, and the silver medal at International Radio Drama, New York City.
Ms. Walsh writes extensively of our Portuguese and Irish connections and of our City’s landscape and people. She promotes the City and our historical connection with Europe in her touring and performances and her work has been translated into French and Portuguese. Ms. Walsh is a very productive, contemporary poet.  She is acknowledged by the writers’ community, both here and abroad, as a poet who has achieved literary excellence and who speaks passionately about the arts and the City of St. John’s.