Kingston has always been a literary city and it has been claimed the first Canadian novel was published here in the 1820s. Today, Kingston is home to a great number of published writers and it also plays host every year to one of Canada’s favorite literary events, Kingston Writersfest. Reading and writing is definitely something worth celebrating and, in 2010, the City of Kingston followed the example set by other Canadian cities and established a poet laureate program for the first time.
Did you know that Kingston, Ont., is the Canadian city that loves to read the most, according to Amazon.ca?
The tradition of naming a poet laureate dates back to ancient Greece and came to prominence in 17th century Britain. Canada also has a tradition of naming poets laureate whose role it is to promote literature, culture and language and to encourage the enjoyment of literature and writing overall. The term “laureate” itself also dates back to ancient Greece when laurel wreathes were placed on the heads of people who were being honoured for outstanding achievements in things such as the arts, sports and politics.
The City of Kingston’s Poet Laureate program reflects the City’s belief that the literary arts deserve our support and recognizes the achievements of a local poet whose work exhibits excellence and resonates with the people of this community. In November 2018, the City of Kingston announced that Jason Heroux was to be appointed Kingston’s third Poet Laureate for a four-year term, building on the work of our past Poets Laureate, Eric Folsom and Helen Humphreys. In his role as Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux will be creating new work inspired by Kingston while also fostering creative writing in and about the city.
Jason Heroux, himself, is the author of four books of poetry, including Hard Work Cheering Up Sad Machines (2016) and three novels, including Amusement Park of Constant Sorrow that was published last year. He was born in Montreal and moved to Kingston in 1990 to study at Queen’s University. His works have been translated into French, Italian and Arabic and it has also appeared in several anthologies. When asked about what he aspires to achieve during his term as Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux has remarked: “I hope to explore new ways of introducing poetry to the hearts and minds of the community, and look forward to celebrating the diverse texture of Kingston’s past, present, and future literary arts.”
Event: April is National Poetry Month
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the City of Kingston in partnership with the Kingston Frontenac Public Library has organized an event to recognize the achievements of outgoing Poet Laureate Helen Humphreys and to welcome the incoming Poet Laureate Jason Heroux. They will be joined by Kingston’s first Poet Laureate Eric Folsom and, together, they will be reading selections from their work. This event will also include readings by three emerging local poets Ky Pearce, Ashley-Elizabeth Best and Zoe Coulter and it will feature live music performed by Darryl Bryan. This free and public event will take place on Tuesday April 30 from 7:00 to 9 p.m. at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, Central Branch, and more information can be found online through the City of Kingston website.