Kingston’s Laureate/Shakespeare Library’s New Poem – Poetry News Roundup December 12th

This week on My Poetic Side we begin with a look at the new poet laureate of Kingston and the specially commissioned poem for the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Kingston’s New Poet Laureate Named as Sadiqa de Meijer

Sadiqa de Meijer has been announced as the new poet laureate for the City of Kingston. The four year tenure of this honorary position will run consecutively with the new city council tenure. The poet laureate position will celebrate the contribution that literary works, arts and poetry make to life in the city.

De Meijer was born in Amsterdam, before moving to Canada as a child, She has Kenyan, Dutch, Afghani and Pakistani heritage. Over the years she has built up a reputation as an artist and poet both at home and internationally. She is a former winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award.

The appointment was made by Jason Heroux, the outgoing poet laureate, and a working group made up of teachers, publishers and writers. The committee said that they are looking forward to seeing what she can achieve in the role.

January 10th, 2023, will mark the first official event in her calendar as the poet laureate, when De Meijer will attend the Mayor’s Levee. She will read from a new poem that will have been specially written for the occasion.

New Rita Dove Poem for Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library is currently undergoing a renovation programme that is costing $72 million, and which they hope will be completed by next year. When planning for the restoration began, they wanted to find a way in which they could assist visitors to the library to transition from the more official world of Capitol Hill to something a little more personal. One of the ideas that they discussed was a poem, and a plan was hatched that would see the words of a poem etched alongside the path of the new entrance to the library.

A verse by Shakespeare seemed the most obvious choice, but one that was perhaps a little too obvious, there are already a number of inscriptions of his work around the library. Then they hit upon the idea of a poem by a contemporary poet, someone who they felt could “embody Shakespeare”. The name of the Pulitzer Prize winner, Rita Dove was suggested – it is well documented that the Bard’s work has entranced her since she was a child. Dove was delighted to be asked and understood exactly what the library was looking for.

In fact, Dove really loved the idea of adding another inscription to the city where there are so many monuments and so many other inscriptions, and where perhaps more importantly people actually read the inscriptions.

The new poem is simillar in length to a sonnet and took Dove just over a year to write. She really wanted every line to stand out so that it didn’t matter if people didn’t read it all. She also wanted to make sure that it flowed properly around the building so that it worked properly at corners of the building as well. There are no sneak previews of the poem. Those who are curious will have to wait until the autumn when it will be unveiled.

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