Past poets laureate: John Smith

John Smith was appointed PEI’s first poet laureate in December 2002, serving until December 2004.


It is unbroken

It is unbroken though forsaken, set
in the tilt of trees toward the prevailing sun.
Not lost, though unregarded, spoken in buried syllables.
Now it rises, a slow star at midsummer,

almost breaks horizon, then glides submissively down
with another declining year. A ripple is enough
in the half-undreaming stillness of lustral places
not yet endowed, or a leaf that falling

meets its shadow on the ground
in a wilderness untraversed where a bird sings unseen.
Like nothing else. Like nothing. Scattered

naked in retreat before the nightmarch
of an alien horde that passes and does not return.
Or say it is you fondling one of a billion stones.

from Midnight Found you Dancing, Ragweed Press, 1986

Audio version

Audio and video

The recordings below are from the “Island Voices” DVD/CD set produced in 2006.

John Smith reading his poem “It is unbroken” | Download smith-it-is-unbroken.mp4

John Smith reading his poem “The world: further hypotheses” | Download smith-the-world-further-hypotheses.mp4

John Smith reading his poem “Sandra, 8 p.m.” | Download smith-sandra-8pm.mp4

John Smith reading his poem “Gates” | Download smith-gates.mp4

Press release on appointment

December 5, 2002
For immediate release

Province Appoints First Poet Laureate

The Honourable Elmer MacFadyen, Minister Responsible for Culture and Heritage today announced the appointment of Prince Edward Island’s first Poet Laureate, Dr. John Smith.

“Our province has a long literary tradition and a part of that tradition is how we express ourselves in poetry,” says Minister MacFadyen. “It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Dr. John Smith to the post of Poet Laureate for Prince Edward Island and wish him well as he serves to promote poetry, Island poets and a higher level of literacy in this province throughout the next two years.”

The title of Poet Laureate dates from the 1600s, and many countries, provinces and cities have named poet laureates to celebrate poetry in their jurisdictions.

Dr. John Smith came to the province to join the faculty of Prince of Wales College in the 1960s and is the author of five volumes of poetry published over a twenty-year period. For many years, he taught English at the University of Prince Edward Island and is now Professor Emeritus. His stature as a poet is recognized across the country.

“Over the next two years, we will be working with Dr. Smith to create awareness of poetry and of poets, and I am very pleased that Professor Smith has agreed to serve,” said Minister MacFadyen.

Government’s action in creating this honourary post comes as a direct result of suggestions from the PEI Council of the Arts and the PEI Writers Guild.

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