In our first poetry news round-up of the week, we look at the newly created position of poet laureate in Ontario. We also look at the monument to the national writer of Kazakhstan.
Ontario’s Poet Laureate Position Created
Efforts by Percy Hatfield, Windsor-Tecumseh MPP have finally paid off, and Ontario has created a position for their first poet laureate. The bill has been named for the frontman of the band Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, who died from brain cancer in October 2017. The idea has been a long time coming to fruition as it was first suggested just two months after Downie’s death.
The Bill finally became law this week having passed its first reading more than a year ago in September 2018.
The new Poet Laureate will be the literary ambassador of Ontario, travelling all over the province talking about the great poets of Ontario and works of poetry from all over the region. It is also hoped that as part of the role they will also take part in poetry readings, lead workshops and encourage greater interaction with poetry in the region’s schools.
In the last few years of his life, Downie was a published poet and also an outspoken advocate who sought to bring about a greater reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada. It is hoped that naming the bill to create the post of poet laureate after him will be a tribute fitting to the legacy and the memory that he has left behind.
There is already a poet laureate for the federal government as well as some of the other major provinces in Canada.
Monument to Khamit Yergaliyev Unveiled
On 14th December a monument was unveiled to Khamit Yergaliyev (Hamit Ergaliev) the national writer of Kazakhstan. The statue is located in Atyrau.
The date also marks Independence Day in Kazakhstan and Yergaliyev is not only considered to be the country’s national writer but is also a state prize laureate. The monument which depicts the poet standing with a garment draped over his right arm was created by the sculptor Nurgalym Isabayev, who says that the sculpture took him a full year to create.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by the poet’s son and daughter and also Mereke Kulkenov the deputy chairman of the Kazakhstan Union of Writers.
An outstanding writer and poet, Khamit Yergalyev was born in the Isatai district in the village of Novobogat in 1916. The village has since been renamed after the poet. In 1940 he was a squadron commander serving in the army in the cavalry unit. He was seriously wounded during the Second World War during a battle that took place near Budapest. He was finally demobilised in 1945.
He was decorated as a hero and received the Order of the Second World War, the badge of Honour, two Orders of the Red Banner of Labour, the Order of the Friendship of the People and numerous other medals.
His first book of poetry was published in 1936 and over the course of his lengthy career he eventually went on to write more than 30 boos. He was awarded the State Prize in 1982 for his book “Altyn Zeren” – Golden Bowl and he was made People’s Writer of Kazakhstan in 1986.