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George Elliott Clarke, Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2016-2017

George Elliott Clarke, Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2016-2017

On January 5, 2016, the Speaker of the Senate, the Hon. George J. Furey, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Hon. Geoff Regan, announced the appointment of George Elliott Clarke as Canada’s next Parliamentary Poet Laureate. On January 1st, Mr. Clarke became Canada’s seventh Poet Laureate, succeeding Mr. Michel Pleau, whose term ended December 31, 2015.


A revered poet, George Elliott Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, near the Black Loyalist community of Three Mile Plains, in 1960. A graduate of the University of Waterloo (B.A., Hons., 1984), Dalhousie University (M.A., 1989) and Queen's University (Ph.D., 1993), he is now the inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. An Assistant Professor of English and Canadian Studies at Duke University, North Carolina (1994-99), Clarke also served as the Seagrams Visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at McGill University (1998-99), and as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia (2002) and as a Visiting Scholar at Mount Allison University (2005), and as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor in Canadian Studies at Harvard University (2013-14). He has also worked as a research, editor, social worker, parliamentary aide, and newspaper columnist. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, but he also owns land in Nova Scotia.

His many honours include the Portia White Prize for Artistic Achievement (1998), Governor-General's Award for Poetry (2001), the National Magazine Gold Medal for Poetry (2001), the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award (2004), the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize (2005), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction (2006), the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (2009), appointment to the Order of Nova Scotia (2006), appointment to the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer (2008), and eight honorary doctorates. He has recently completed his three year term as the City of Toronto’s Poet Laureate.

National Poetry Registry

Search the National Poetry Registry for poems that refer to Canada’s provinces, territories and federal electoral districts. Poems were selected by parliamentarians, citizens, and a bibliographer.


  • Poem written for the passing of Gord Downie | An Elegy for Gord Downie (November 2017)

    Poem commemorating the First World War | They Trooped the Colours (November 2017)

    Poem about the succession of Governors General in Canada | On the Succession of Governors-General (October 2017)

    Poem for the 50th anniversary of the Order of Canada | Ode to the Order of Canada, “The People’s Nobility,” on the 50th Anniversary of Its 1967 Founding (August 2017)

    Poem about the Acadian Settlement at Beaubassin | Of Beaubassin, Acadie: A Cautionary History (August 2017)

    Poem commemorating the Lac-Mégantic disaster | The Ballad of the Lac-Mégantic Disaster (July 2017)

    Poem highlighting Canada’s 150th Anniversary | Anthem for Liberty’s Champions (June 2017)

    Poem about the Marijuana Legislation | Up in Smoke, or Reverie on the “Mary Jane” Legislation (May 2017)

    Poem written for the passing of Richard B. Wright  | Elegy for Richard B. Wright (May 2017)

    Poem written for the passing of Stuart McLean | Elegy for Stuart McLean (May 2017)

    Poem on the Centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge | On the Centennial of the Battle for Vimy Ridge (April 2017)

    Poem for Earth Day | Earth Day Emergency (April 2017)

    Poem about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms | On the 35th Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (April 2017)

    An homage to Viola Desmond | On Political Economy; or, The Ballad of Viola Desmond (March 2017)

    Poem written after the Quebec City mosque shooting | Ain’t You Scared of the Sacred?: A Spiritual (February 2017)

    Poem about environment and climate change | Beat Meditations: Beach / Mountain (January 2017)

    Poem about Yukon | Yukon / Utopia (January 2017)

    Poem about the Senate | The Senate of Canada: An Update-in-Progress (December 2016)

    Poem written for the passing of Fidel Castro | An Elegy—Non-Partisan—for Fidel Castro (November 2016)

    Poem written for the passing of Leonard Cohen | Elegy for Leonard Cohen (November 2016)

    2016 Remembrance Day Poems | They trooped the colours | Homage to the Veterans of the Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs Constituency (November 2016)

    Poem written and read by Mr. Clarke at his investitureAlexandria Alight (March 2016)

    Poems to commemorate the Centre Block fire of 1916Parliamentary Incendiary | No title (February 2016)

    Honouring Pierre DesRuisseaux, Canada's 4th Parliamentary Poet LaureateReading Pierre DesRuisseaux (January 2016)
  • Bibliography


    Titles with an asterisk* are available in French only

  • May 12, 2017
    The rock band U2 selected two of Mr. Clarke’s poems (“Elegy for Leonard Cohen” and “Ain't You Scared of the Sacred?: A Spiritual”) to scroll across screens at their concerts during The Joshua Tree at Thirty tour.

    Photo: Laura Moss

  • April 26, 2016
    CBC Books | George Elliott Clarke on his biggest writing turn-ons

  • April 4, 2016
    The Mississauga News | George Elliott Clarke crashes local poetry party

  • March 23, 2016
    Canada News Wire | George Elliott Clarke to mentor unpublished writers as judge of a national poetry contest

  • March 17, 2016
    The Chronicle Herald (Halifax) | Canada’s Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke an observer of Nova Scotia’s past

  • February 27, 2016
    Maclean’s | George Elliott Clarke takes risks in his new novel

  • February 24, 2016
    Now Toronto | Django Unchains #oscarssowhite by George Elliott Clarke

  • February 22, 2016
    Radio Canada International | BHM: George Elliott Clarke: The Motorcyclist (novel)

  • February 20, 2016
    Ici Radio-Canada | Rencontre avec George Elliott Clarke, le nouveau poète officiel du Parlement fédéral *

  • February 19, 2016
    The Globe and Mail│Review: George Elliott Clarke celebrates his father’s life in The Motorcyclist

  • February 15, 2016
    CBC Radio: The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers | George Elliott Clarke explores race, class and Jane Austen

  • February 8, 2016
    Toronto Star | Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate creates “unforgettable” character who explores a racial divide and the divide within himself

  • February 5, 2016
    The Globe and Mail | George Elliott Clarke: “George Elliott Clarke: 'I had to delight in crayons and Nancy Drew'”

  • February 1, 2016
    CBC Books│Black History Month: Lawrence Hill, George Elliott Clarke pick young black authors to watch

  • January 29, 2016
    Ottawa Citizen | Get your motor runnin’: George Elliott Clarke takes us on a wild ride

  • January 27, 2016
    Ottawa Metro | George Elliott Clarke turns to father’s 1959 journal for inspiration

  • January 25, 2016
    Ici Radio-Canada | George Elliott Clarke est le nouveau poète officiel du Parlement *

  • January 18, 2016
    The Varsity | Canada’s George Elliott Clarke named Canada’s poet laureate

  • January 12, 2016
    Hants Journal | Canada’s Poet Laureate: In conversation with Windsor’s George Elliott Clarke

  • January 9, 2016
    Toronto Star | George Elliott Clarke named parliamentary poet laureate

  • January 6, 2016
    CBC News: Nova Scotia | George Elliott Clarke named Canada’s new parliamentary poet laureate

  • January 6, 2016
    The Globe and Mail | Nova Scotia’s George Elliott Clarke named parliamentary poet laureate

  • January 6, 2016
    The Globe and Mail | George Elliott Clarke, a poet laureate with a social conscience

  • January 6, 2016
    La Presse | George Elliott Clarke, nouveau poète officiel du Parlement *

  • January 6, 2016
    Le Journal de Montréal | George Elliott Clarke nommé poète officiel du Parlement du Canada *

  • 5 janvier 2016
    Ici Radio-Canada | Un Néo-Écossais devient le poète officiel du Parlement *

  • 5 January 2016
    The Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons announced Canada’s 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate