Calgary Celebrates New Poet Laureate

Calgary Celebrates New Poet Laureate

A promo image of Wakefield Brewster
Wakefield Brewster | Photo: Tamara Becker, Empire Images

In January 1999, Wakefield Brewster stepped onto his first stage as a poet and spoken word artist. Today, he is known as one of Canada’s most powerful professional performance poets.

A Black man raised in Toronto by parents from Barbados, he has resided in Calgary since 2006, and it is in the new west where Brewster has been able to truly flourish as a poet and as a person.

Throughout his career, Brewster has been published in several Anthologies including T-Dot Griots (Trafford on Demand Publishing, 2004), The Great Black North (Frontenac House, 2013), The Calgary Project (Frontenac House, 2014), and The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2019). Since moving in Calgary, he has produced two professional recordings to his credit: Wakefield Brewster, da lyrical pitbull (produced by Kill Whitey Records, 2007) and east2west (produced by Spanish Fly Music, 2008).

Wakefield Brewster was formally announced as the 2022-2024 Calgary Poet Laureate during today’s City Council meeting in conjunction with National Poetry Month.

Taking over from outgoing Laureate, Natalie Meisner, Brewster was on hand to read a poem and accept the position.

“I cannot express how elated, flattered, grateful and honoured I am to be selected as the sixth Poet Laureate of Calgary,” says Wakefield Brewster. “In this 22-year career as a professional poet and spoken word artist, it is the single greatest publicly known milestone that I have ever achieved. With this appointment, enhancing the love of language and liberties through literacy will be paramount and prominent objectives.

“As we move forward in this age of information and sharing stories, poetry is more and more becoming known and employed as a method of harnessing humanity, curating connection, and evoking empathy. Now is the time to use intentional nurturing narratives to alter the current numerous, negating ones in our world, in our countries, cities, communities, workplaces, schools, circles, families, and individual lives. The intention as a guest, speaker, storyteller, and steward of this land is to promote exactly that, a new and healing narrative through the vulnerable and exciting, visceral and engaging, vindicating and educating powers of poetry.”

In addition to being a professional poet and spoken word artist, Brewster is also a professional Poetic Interpreter™. He has been three-time Calgary Poetry Slam Champion & Team Captain (2006, 2008, 2009), the Inaugural Poet of Honour, People’s Poetry Festival (2011), Calgary Poet Laureate Shortlist/Finalist (2012 and 2020), the Inaugural Resident Poet & Spoken Word Artist of The Grand Theatre (2019-2021), Inaugural TD ARTIST INCUBATOR at Arts Commons and Poet-In-Residence (2021-2022), a member of the Canadian League of Poets, a board member of Elephant Artist’s Relief Society, and the Peter Gzowski Foundation For Literacy Calgary Poet Laureate (2021). Brewster is also a Registered Massage Therapist and owner of WakeFull Wellness Registered Massage Therapy & HealingSpace; a community-builder, volunteer, and leadership mentor for youth through the arts; and an Advocate for Literacy and The Humanities; Healing Arts & Alternative Medicine; Alcoholism & Addictions; Mental Wellness & Recovery.

“The Poet Laureate program is a wonderful way to reflect our city and its citizens through the power of words and language,” says Patti Pon, President & CEO of Calgary Arts Development. “We thank Natalie Meisner for her term as Calgary’s Poet Laureate from 2020-2022–a term that took place entirely during the pandemic. The restorative power of the arts was present in all of Natalie’s work, and particularly through her use of language to connect, compel, and heal. It is a pleasure to welcome Wakefield Brewster to the position for the next two years. Wakefield is a poet and spoken word artist with a passion and intensity that is sure to unleash a new age for poetry in our city.”

As Calgary Poet Laureate, Brewster will serve as an artistic ambassador for the citizens of Calgary from 2022 to 2024. A $10,000 honorarium is paid per year for the position, funded by Calgary Poet Laureate Ambassadors including Calgary Foundation and Calgary Public Library.

Further information on Wakefield Brewster can be found at

A photo of Poet Laureate Wakefield Brewster with Mayor Jyoti Gondek
Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Poet Laureate Wakefield Brewster | Photo: Aaron Chatha
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