SASKATCHEWAN — The Saskatchewan Writers' Guild announced on Wednesday, July 19, that dee Hobsbawn-Smith will serve as the province's 10th Poet Laureate. The program, which was the first provincial program of its kind in Canada, will see the award-winning author, poet, and chef serve a two-year term from Aug. 1, 2023, to July 31, 2025.
"The Saskatchewan Poet Laureate celebrates Saskatchewan — its people, spirit, land — through the literary arts and acts as an ambassador and champion of poetry and writing," said the SWG in a news release.
"The Poet’s commitment to writing, passion for poetry, and community engagement through her position will raise awareness of the power of poetry and engage all residents in the written and spoken word."
The Poet Laureate program, which has been in operation since 2000, has seen nine other poets engaging the people of Saskatchewan in poetry through public readings and talks at schools, libraries, community arts organizations, seniors residences, museums, writing groups, or at special events.
These poets include Glen Sorestad, Louise B. Halfe, Robert Currie, Donald Kerr, Judith Krause, Gerald Hill, Brenda Schmidt, Bruce Rice and Carol Rose GoldenEagle (who served most recently in the role from 2021 to 2023)
dee Hobsbawn-Smith, herself an award-winning author, poet, and chef living on her family farm near Langham, was chosen by the selection jury both for her involvement in the literary field of Saskatchewan as a mentor, a teacher, an editor and a writer-in-residencr, and as a public speaker, a performer and a long-time chef and local foods advocate.
"Her impressive publishing record includes not only poetry, but short stories, a novel, nonfiction, and food books. She is an experienced and generous writer with boundless energy, and her experience as a chef and food writer will offer a unique perspective as Saskatchewan’s newest Poet Laureate.
"With her belief in the 'common language of poetry' and her infectious enthusiasm at the prospect of propagating the possibilities of poetry so that it can 'work magic' on as many people in this province as possible, dee will be an outstanding poetry ambassador," commented the committee.
Hobsbawn-Smith told the News-Optimist/SASKTODAY.ca that the appointment was plentiful.
"It feels abundant, it feels rich and really, really, really amazing, and humbling, and terrifying and overwhelming all at the same time."
Hobsbawn-Smith anticipates that while serving as an ambassador for the literary world and, in the long run, seeing more people reading and writing poetry, there will be opportunities in the role to help further the ideas presented in her own work, including feminism and concerns around the resurgence of fascism around the globe.
"In the long run, I think what I'd like to see is more people reading and writing and interacting with poetry. However that happens, whatever forms that takes, that's the big goal," she said.
"But the short answer is yes, there is room for addressing all of those issues within the scope of the Poet Laureate."
Though discussion is still underway in deciding what she will be doing, she sees herself travelling the province and engaging with people as much as possible during her two-year term.
"I have a long list of ideas ... but what we're going to be able to do within the parameters of the program will be as much as I can ... I like to cram a whole bunch of stuff in and do my best at everything that I do."