Past poets laureate: David Helwig

David Helwig was appointed Poet Laureate in January 2008, serving until December 2009.



A monochrome adventuring: the chemicals
spread on polymer and exposed to a flash of light
hatch this peephole’s-worth of look, but glimpsed in reverse,
black snow, slate skin, branches in ivory silhouette,

haunted snow-shadowed eyes, abstracted from the heat
and breeding and decay of the gaudy universe,
landscape pressed to the transparency of night,
air’s inversion of plenitude, volume to line,

all of it mediated, miniature, its code
freezing one sixtieth of a second transposed
into this misty creation, shades cast in light,
a black dove descending toward a field of ash.

As X-ray transparencies reveal what we hide
in the roots of our teeth, forsaken memories
display themselves to us in swirling flecked black smoke,
pigmentation abandoned, the rainbow spectrum.

A monochrome yesterday gleams in pure shadows
of design; sharpness of line and lucent texture
sketch in grisaille an architecture of the past,
your bare toes grey upon grey, outlined in silver



Press release on appointment

Charlottetown, January 23, 2008

Hon. Carolyn Bertram , Minister of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour has announced the appointment of poet, novelist and essayist David Helwig, of Eldon, as the new poet laureate for Prince Edward Island.

Author of more than 20 books, mostly fiction and poetry, David Helwig has served on juries for the Canada Council, Governor-General’s Awards, Ontario Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, PEI Arts Council, New Brunswick Arts Council. He earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1960, and an M.A. from the University of Liverpool in 1962. He has worked in journalism, TV drama, radio drama, as a university lecturer and since 1980 a full-time writer. He is the founder and long-time editor of the Best Canadian Stories annual. His most recent book of poetry “The Year One” won the Atlantic Poetry Award for 2004. He moved to Prince Edward Island in 1996.

Minister Bertram said she was pleased that Mr.Helwig agreed to serve as the province’s poet laureate for a two-year term. “Mr. Helwig is an excellent choice for the position,” she said. “He has a renowned national reputation and has made a major contribution to the literary culture of Prince Edward Island.”

Mr. Helwig said he was looking forward to his term as poet laureate. “It’s a great honour to be offered this position, and I hope I can use it to bring attention to Island poets.” The post of Poet Laureate does not have fixed duties and previous holders of the post have used a variety of approaches to making poetry a more central part of the lives of Islanders.

For more information, visit David Helwig’s personal website at

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