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September 8, 2003
Poetry Challenge Launches Literacy Month Celebrations
September is Literacy Month in Toronto. Today, International Literacy Day, the
City celebrated literacy by launching the Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy
(MTML) Poetry Challenge at City Hall. Councillor Maria Augimeri, chair of the
City's Working Group on Language Equity and Literacy Issues, Dennis Lee, the
City's poet laureate and members of the Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy
(MTML), hosted the launch.

International Literacy Month promotes the City's campaign to eliminate
illiteracy by 2010. The campaign includes a poster that advertises the phone
number for the Literacy Access Network (LAN) and promotes the campaign slogan
"Literacy is a right". The City's International Literacy Month activities also
include participating in The Word on the Street festival and recognizing
International Adult Learners Week.

"Reading and writing are necessary skills for social, cultural and economic
participation, and allows residents to participate as equals in public and
political processes," said Councillor Augimeri. "The City helps potential
learners and volunteer tutors find literacy programs in their neighbourhoods by
advertising the phone number for the Literacy Access Network, which is a
referral service provided by the MTML."

Poets and literacy advocates from Toronto also participated in the launch of
the celebrations. Dennis Lee spoke about the power of words and how he found
his own voice through poetry.

Linda Sullivan, an avid and long-time volunteer tutor, spoke about the Poetry
Challenge, which she initiated with the MTML. The Poetry Challenge involves
participants reciting a short poem and, much like a walk or run, they gather
pledges to complete the task. The Poetry Challenge will take place during The
Word on the Street festival to be held on Queen Street West between University
and Spadina Avenues on September 28, 2003.

Local poets, including Literature for Life member Debora Scorsone and
Councillor Augimeri read from their work to showcase the beauty of literacy and
poetry. Councillors Jane Pitfield and Joe Mihevc and community member, Safiya
Jowhar also read poems to show support for the literacy cause.

Media contacts:
Councillor Maria Augimeri
Chair, Working Group on Language Equity and Literacy Issues,
Priscilla Cranley,
Community Engagement Consultant,



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