Peterborough, ON – The Electric City Culture Council (EC3) and The City of Peterborough are pleased and honoured to announce that spoken word artist Sarah Lewis has been selected as Peterborough’s first Poet Laureate. Mayor Diane Therrien will introduce Ms. Lewis at the City Council meeting on September 23 at 6:00 pm. You can watch the a livestream of the meeting HERE.
Sarah Lewis will serve as Poet Laureate from September 2021 to April 2022 and will create and present four new works for various civic occasions, as well as undertaking a program of special events and activities to promote literacy, poetry, local arts, culture and civic identity.
The Peterborough Poet Laureate is an honourary position established to recognize the excellence and outstanding achievements of local professional poets (both print/page and spoken word) and to enhance our civic identity.
The Peterborough Poet Laureate acts as an advocate for poetry and spoken word art, for the arts in general, and for the City of Peterborough and its residents. She will compose works to be presented at Peterborough City Council meetings and other City of Peterborough events and occasions. The Poet Laureate will receive an honourarium of $2,000.00 and an additional $500.00 from EC3, provided by an anonymous donor.
Sarah Lewis (she/her) is an Anishnaabe Kwe (Ojibwe/Cree), spoken word artist from Curve Lake First Nation, Ontario, who has lived in the City of Peterborough. She is a proud member of the 2019 Peterborough Poetry Slam Team, as well as a national semi-finalist at the 2019 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Sarah has performed her works at approximately 15 slam poetry competitions and dozens of community events, has had her work published in the Edmonton Indigenous Artists Anthology and will be featured shortly on CBC’s Arts YouTube channel.
She is a mother, social justice activist, performer, community organizer, dreamer, and curious spirit in pursuit of answers about the universe. Her poetry highlights the struggles and more importantly, the resiliency within Indigenous communities. Sarah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Trent University.
The Poet Laureate was selected in a competitive process by a Peer Assessment/Selection Committee including well-recognized writers, academics, poets, songwriters and spoken word artists Jon Hedderwick, Gordon Johnson, Lillian Allen, Andrew Ihamaki and Nick Ferrio. The selection was reviewed and endorsed by the City’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee (ACHAC). This was a two-step process; three shortlisted candidates in the competition participated in an interview and presented their work to the Committee. Outstanding finalists also included accomplished artists Justin Million and Ziysah von Bieberstein.
The Selection Committee was deeply impressed by the beauty of Sarah Lewis’ language, the remarkable ‘architecture’ of her work, the creativity and finesse of her presentation, and the all-embracing concepts she brings to bear on ideas about community, citizenship, history and identity.
The City of Peterborough is responsible for the Poet Laureate Pilot Program, which is administered by the Electric City Culture Council (EC3) under the guidance of the City of Peterborough’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee (ACHAC).
The Electric City Culture Council (EC3) is a not-for-profit service organization supporting the arts and culture community in Peterborough and the surrounding region. EC3 provides strategic leadership, research, resources and connections that build and strengthen the sector.
“Through poetry, a Poet Laureate inspires us and encourages us to reflect on our lives and the life of our community. Thank you to Electric City Culture Council for working with the City to create this exciting new pilot program. The arts community is a key part of the cultural, social and economic vibrancy of Peterborough. Our first Poet Laureate is arriving at a milestone in the history of our community as we look forward to emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic when we will build back better together.” — City of Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien
Sarah Lewis photo