Internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Anne Michaels has been selected as Toronto's fifth Poet Laureate.
"Anne Michaels has inspired readers around the world with her works and now she can inspire them again as Toronto's new Poet Laureate," said Mayor John Tory.
"I am very honoured by this appointment and eager to serve our wonderful city in all its diversity," said Michaels. "Toronto is fortunate to embrace dozens of languages and has an invaluable literary history. I am looking forward to celebrating our many voices, old and new."
Anne Michaels, who was born in Toronto, is the author of five acclaimed poetry collections: The Weight of Oranges (1986), which won the Commonwealth Prize for the Americas; Miner’s Pond (1991), which received the Canadian Authors Association Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium Award; Skin Divers (1999) and Poems (2000). Michaels was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2014 for her most recent poetry collection, Correspondences.
Fugitive Pieces (1996), Michaels’ internationally best-selling first novel, was the winner of the Toronto Book Award, the Guardian Fiction Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, among many other Canadian and international awards. Fugitive Pieces was also adapted into an internationally released feature film. Her second novel, The Winter Vault (2009), was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages.
Michaels will receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 for three years, from December 2015 until November 2018, to serve as Toronto's literary ambassador championing local literary arts and wordsmiths. She will also create a literacy legacy project.
"The Poet Laureate position is one of the many ways that the City of Toronto supports the city's literary community," said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City's Economic Development Committee. "Through the Poet Laureate, the Toronto Book Awards, the Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Arts Council, we recognize and celebrate the importance of our writers."
Ms. Michaels was nominated by a selection committee that included: Joanna Poblocka (Executive Director, League of Canadian Poets), Lillian Necakov-Avalos (Branch Head, Toronto Public Library), Alana Wilcox (Editorial Director, Coach House Books), David Silverberg (Founder/Artistic Director, Toronto Poetry Slam), and Toronto's previous Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke. The selection committee relied on its expertise and consultation with the community to select a candidate; its recommendation was made with full agreement by staff in Arts & Culture Services.