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April 26, 2001
Toronto's first Poet Laureate takes up his pen
  
Culture Division -- Toronto City Council today welcomed Dennis Lee as
Toronto's first ever Poet Laureate. Mr. Lee, a native-born Torontonian who
resides in the city, has published numerous works of prose and poetry for
adults and children. His collection Civil Elegies and Other Poems was awarded
the 1972 Governor General's Award. Alligator Pie and his other cleverly-rhymed
collections of children's verse remain among best-selling Canadian children's
books.

The idea of creating a position of Poet Laureate for Toronto was initiated and
championed by Councillor David Soknacki (Scarborough Highland Creek).
Councillor Soknacki explains that "Toronto's Poet Laureate will serve as our
city's ambassador at events that promote the literary arts. He will also create
a literary legacy project in co-operation with the community and the Toronto
Public Library."

"I am immensely honoured to accept this position. I'm especially excited about
the legacy project -- it's a tremendous opportunity for us to enhance Toronto's
strong literary tradition and to support our city's many diverse voices," says
Dennis Lee.

This appointment, made during Canada's National Poetry Month, is a joint
initiative of the City of Toronto and the Canada Council for the Arts to help
put arts and poetry in the centre of community life in Toronto. Canada Council
Chairman Jean-Louis Roux comments, "We need more poetry, art and beauty in our
lives and in our communities. The Canada Council is proud to be a partner in
this initiative, which complements our Poetry on the Way campaign on the TTC,
making Toronto one of the true poetry capitals of the world."

Mr. Lee will serve as Toronto's Poet Laureate for the duration of the term of
the present City Council, which ends November 30, 2003.

To celebrate Mr. Lee's "taking up the pen" as Toronto's first Poet Laureate,
the Toronto Public Library plans to host a public reading and feature a display
of Mr. Lee's work in the Toronto Reference Library's Yonge Street windows
beginning in June.

Public inquiries regarding the Poet Laureate may be directed to June Clark,
Toronto Culture Division at 416-392-4173, or e-mail to:
jclark@city.toronto.on.ca.



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