January 28, 2016
For immediate release
Deirdre Kessler has been named the new Poet Laureate for Prince Edward Island, says Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Doug Currie.
“From her works of poetry and children’s fiction, to her work teaching creative writing, Ms. Kessler has already made a significant impact on our Island culture,” said Minister Currie. “As Poet Laureate, I know she will help us celebrate poetry in Prince Edward Island.”
The Island’s sixth Poet Laureate is a poet, writer, and teacher. Her collections of poetry are Afternoon Horses, Subtracting by Seventeen, and Rearranging the Sky. Ms. Kessler currently teaches children’s literature and creative writing part-time with the University of Prince Edward Island’s Department of English.
“My first response to being asked to be Poet Laureate was to feel completely daunted. The former Poets Laureate have set the bar high. My second responses were to be honoured and delighted,” said Poet Laureate Deirdre Kessler.
“I would like to focus on promoting a return to the oral tradition of poetry by organizing recitals in schools and in public venues, with poems read aloud in English, French, Mi’kmaq, Gaelic, and other languages of the many lands and cultures reflected in our Island society.”
Ms. Kessler plans to gather the poets laureate retired—John Smith, David Helwig, Hugh MacDonald, and Dianne Morrow—for an afternoon public reading of their poems. She also plans to work with the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada to present poems from around the world read aloud in their original languages, with brief commentaries or translations.
The post of Poet Laureate, which was established in 2002, was created to recognize long-term contributions to the literary arts in the province. The role of the Poet Laureate is to make Islanders aware of the important role that poetry plays in the literary life of the province and to serve as a cultural ambassador.
“I offer my sincere thanks to outgoing Poet Laureate Dianne Hicks Morrow who has been particularly active and has participated in readings and writing activities across the province,” added Minister Currie.
For more information on the Poet Laureate program, visit www.gov.pe.ca/eecd/poetlaureate
About Deirdre Kessler
Deirdre Kessler is a Prince Edward Island-based author of two dozen books for children and adults. She teaches creative writing, children’s literature, and a course on Lucy Maud Montgomery with the Department of English of the University of Prince Edward Island. She is recipient of a UPEI Award for Teaching Excellence.
Ms. Kessler worked with CBC Radio and Television for five years as arts reporter, movie reviewer, and host of CBC Radio’s “The Story Show” for children. Her hour-long documentaries have been aired on CBC Ideas and The Arts Tonight.
Subtracting by Seventeen, a long poem, won the Milton Acorn Poetry Award first prize, and this poem and others were published in a chapbook the Saturday Morning Chapbook series, edited by David Helwig, Hugh Macdonald, and the late Joseph Sherman. Her full-length collection of poetry, Afternoon Horses, was published in 2009. She is currently working on a new poetry manuscript and an adult novel, Darwin’s Hornpipe.
She has conducted hundreds of writing workshops for adults and children and has toured widely giving readings from her books. She is a member of long-standing of The Writers’ Union of Canada, was a founding member and past president of the Prince Edward Island Writers’ Guild, and served for seven years on the Board of Trustees of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. She was recently appointed to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.