Wakefield Brewster named Calgary Poet Laureate

News Release Categories: 2022

Wakefield Brewster named Calgary Poet Laureate

For immediate release

(Calgary AB) – Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Poet Laureate selection committee are pleased to announce the appointment of Wakefield Brewster as the 2022-2024 Calgary Poet Laureate. The position was formally announced in Council Chambers at Calgary City Hall today, as part of National Poetry Month.

“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.”

“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 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 to 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).

In addition to being a professional poet and spoken word artist, Brewster is also a professional Poetic Interpreter™, 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.

Further information on Wakefield Brewster can be found at wakefieldbrewster.com.

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.

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

Photo available by request.

About the Calgary Poet Laureate
On July 26, 2011, City Council approved a motion to establish a Calgary Poet Laureate position, funded by a group of Calgary Poet Laureate Ambassadors. Calgary Arts Development administers the program in conjunction with a volunteer selection committee, which appoints each Calgary Poet Laureate for a two-year term. The Calgary Poet Laureate is intended to be an artistic ambassador for Calgary, presenting at civic events and producing literary works that reflect our city and its citizens.

About National Poetry Month

Each April the League of Canadian Poets celebrates National Poetry Month. This year’s theme is INTIMACY. To find out more, visit https://poets.ca/npm/.  Established in 1966, the League of Canadian Poets is a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting poets, building poetic communities, supporting inclusive and equitable free expression, and promoting Canadian poets and poetry.

About Calgary Arts Development
As the city’s designated arts development authority, Calgary Arts Development supports and strengthens the arts to benefit all Calgarians. We invest and allocate municipal funding for the arts provided by The City of Calgary and leverage these funds to provide additional resources to the arts sector. Our programs support hundreds of arts organizations, individual artists, artist collectives, and ad hoc groups in Calgary.


Further Information
Helen Moore-Parkhouse
Director, Communications, Calgary Arts Development
Phone: (office) 403.264.5330 ext. 102; (mobile) 587.227.0150
Email: helen.moore-parkhouse@calgaryartsdevelopment.com

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