Rebecca Thomas is the Halifax Regional Municipality's sixth poet laureate. As poet laureate, she serves as an ambassador and advocate for literacy, literature, and the arts, and reflects the vitality of the community through appearances and readings of poetry at a number of civic events and other activities. She's serving a two year term as the poet laureate, which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion and with Canada's 150th birthday.
A spoken word artist and the current Halifax Slam Master, Thomas also holds the position of Coordinator of Aboroginal Student Services at the Nova Scotia Community College. Coming from an indigenous background and with a family that has been greatly impacted by residential schools, she has come to recognize the lack of prominence given to First Nations perspectives within the history of Halifax. As a Mi'kmaw woman, she embraces the opportunity to bring her cultural voice to the broader public discussion through the Poet Laureate position, and believes that the arts and poetry can help people heal in ways beyond traditional therapies.
She is also an active supporter of youth engagement through poetry and the arts and has volunteered the past two years with the Halifax Youth Slam Team. Over the last several years she has organized a variety of workshops and poetry series' with a focus on youth empowerment and diversity education.
Past municipal poet laureates
Municipal Poet Laureate, 2013-2015
El Jones is a spoken word activist and teacher. She was the two-time captain of the back-to-back national championship Halifax slam team in 2007 and 2008. El has performed all over Canada, including at the 10th Anniversary All-Star edition of When Sisters Speak in Toronto. In 2012, she was sponsored by Citizenship and Heritage Canada on a reading tour of Nova Scotia with George Elliott Clarke. Her poetry is particularly committed to political causes and social justice and has worked extensively with organizations around Halifax performing and presenting on issues of social change.
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Caption: 2013-2015 Poet Laureate El Jones
Alt-text: A photo of 2013-2015 Municipal Poet Laureate El Jones
El Jones addresses Halifax Regional Council on April 29, 2014 in acknowledgement of National Poetry Month.
Municipal Poet Laureate, 2011–2013
Tanya Davis is a poet. She is a storyteller. She is a musician and a singer-songwriter and she fuses these elements together in a refreshing matrimony of language and sound, side-stepping genre and captivating audiences in the process. Tanya is a two-time winner in the CBC National Poetry Face-Off as well as the Canadian Winner of the 2008 Mountain Stage NewSong contest. In 2009, with support from Bravo, she collaborated with independent filmmaker Andrea Dorfman to produce a short videopoem entitled How to Be Alone; the short has since been featured at numerous film festivals, including The Vancouver Film Fest, The Worldwide Short Film Festival, and the VideoPoetry Festival (Berlin). It also has 1.8 million views on Youtube.
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Caption: 2011-2013 Poet Laureate Tanya Davis
Alt-text: A photo of 2011-2013 Municipal Poet Laureate Tanya Davis, photo credit: Julé Malet-Veale
Tanya Davis performs her poem "Call in the Poets" at Regional Council on May 7, 2013
Municipal Poet Laureate, 2009–2011
Shauntay Grant is a Nova Scotian writer, spoken word performer, musician, and broadcast journalist. She has shared her vibrant blend of poetry and music internationally at festivals and events. Shauntay is involved with several arts organizations. She's served as a board member for the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia, the Lieutenant Governor's Arts Awards Foundation, and the Nova Scotia Choral Federation. She is also a founder of Word Iz Bond Spoken Word Artists' Collective.
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Caption: 2009–2011 Poet Laureate Shauntay Grant (photo by Raul Rincon).
Alt-text: A photo of 2009-2011 Municipal Poet Laureate Shauntay Grant
Lorri Neilsen Glenn
Municipal Poet Laureate, 2005–2009
Lorri Neilsen Glenn is the author and editor of thirteen books, the most recent of which are the acclaimed Untying the Apron: Daughters Remember Mothers of the 1950s (Guernica Editons, 2013), Threading Light: Explorations in Loss and Poetry (Hagios Press, 2011), and Lost Gospels (Brick Books, 2010). A poet, essayist, anthologist, and ethnographer, Lorri’s literary work and scholarship have earned several national and international awards. As an arts and literacy advocate for over twenty-five years, Lorri believes that the life of the imagination is critical to a healthy and productive society. “Truth, beauty, and the imagination aren’t old-fashioned ideals. Today we need them more than ever. Words change lives.”
Lorri reads her poem "To Begin" at Regional Council on April 23, 2013
Municipal Poet Laureate, 2001–2005
Sue MacLeod has published two books of poetry, That Singing You Hear at the Edges and The Language of Rain.
Her poems have also appeared in journals and anthologies across the country and been broadcast on regional and national CBC.
She has been invited to read from her work in nine of Canada’s provinces, at venues ranging from the Ship Inn in St. John’s, to the Festival of Words in Moose Jaw, to Vancouver’s inner-city library at the corner of Hastings and Main.
Sue grew up in Toronto, but has lived in Nova Scotia since her teens and currently makes her home in downtown Halifax. As part of the writing community, she has served on the Board of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, taught poetry at The Tatamagouche Centre, and to students of all ages through the Writers in the Schools program.
In 2001, the amalgamated Halifax Regional Municipality became the third municipality in Canada to establish a Poet Laureate. Sue MacLeod was honoured as our first laureate. The poetry anthology To Find Us was published as a legacy project of her inaugural role as Laureate. It was shortlisted for the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor’s Masterworks Award in 2006.