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August 27, 2010
'Poetry is Public is Poetry' turns the page on how the public reads its streets
A new initiative of Toronto's Poet Laureate called Poetry is Public is Poetry showcases and celebrates the work of Canadian poets. On a series of five panels located in front of the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge St.), passages from 34 prominent writers artistically intertwine with the panels' visual backgrounds, which were created by internationally known graphic designer and illustrator Frank Viva.

This ambitious public art and written word project features verses by Lillian Allen, Jacob Arthur Mooney, Margaret Atwood, Ronna Bloom, Roo Borson, Dionne Brand, Jason Camlot, Leonard Cohen, Lorna Crozier, Daniel David Moses, Don Domanksi, Stan Dragland, George Elliott Clarke, Catherine Graham, Phil Hall, Angela Hibbs, Eve Joseph, Ehab Lotayef, David W. McFadden, Don McKay, Steve McOrmond, Anne Michaels, Motion, Michelle Muir, Michael Ondaatje, Joanne Page, Alison Pick, Maureen Scott Harris, Anne Simpson, Sue Sinclair, John Steffler, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Paul Vermeersch and Jan Zwicky.

The five panels unveiled yesterday are the first of a series of Poetry is Public is Poetry projects planned throughout the city. This collaborative endeavour involves the City of Toronto's Cultural Services and Transportation Services working in co-operation with the Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Public Library Foundation.

The project will embed two to four installations a year in visible library spaces. Each location and design will also be featured on the project’s website at - which includes information about each poem, poet and designer.

“This project seeks to counterpoint, regenerate and re-engage in the communal in a way that only poetry can," said City of Toronto Poet Laureate Dionne Brand. "Committing verses tangibly to the public space will enrich the interior life of the citizens. Poetry beautifies public space, pays respect to the intelligence of the citizenry, gives respite from the grind of daily living and engages the city’s humanistic ideals."

Poetry is Public is Poetry will help transform Toronto’s public realm into an illuminating forum for the written word. Part of the Poet Laureate's legacy project, this ongoing program merges poetry with public art to claim permanent public space for Canadian poetry on Toronto walkways.

Dionne Brand believes that poets have contributed enormously to the city’s sense of itself but that their contribution is not always apparent in the public sphere. Recognizing that poetry is essentially a private act - conceived, written and often read alone - makes expanding poetry into the public realm an exciting challenge. The physicality of the text provides a reflective dialogue that can serve as a catalyst for providing a sense of well being, identity and even happiness.

More information about Toronto's Poet Laureate is available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media contacts:
Shane Gerard, City of Toronto, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-397-5711,
Anne Marie Aikins, Toronto Public Library, Manager, Corporate Communications, 416-393-7212,



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