Halifax Welcomes New Poet Laureate

On the morning of Tuesday, April 24, 2018, politicians, press, and arts organizers gathered at City Hall to welcome Halifax’s new poet laureate, Dr. Afua Cooper, a widely published author and the current James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University.

It was “a bittersweet day,” noted Elizabeth Taylor, Manager of Culture & Events for the Halifax Regional Municipality, as the crowd was gathered not just to welcome Dr. Cooper, but also to say good-bye to outgoing Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas, who had served in the role from 2016-2018.

After opening remarks from Taylor, Mayor Mike Savage greeted the crowd with a few words of his own. Poetry, he reflected, is intended “not necessarily to please, but to take a stand,” a principle exemplified by previous HRM Poet Laureates such as Rebecca Thomas and El Jones.

The ceremony proceeded with words from Dr. Cooper, who thanked her family, as well as the members of the local Jamaican community, for their support. Dr. Cooper also referenced her grandmother’s influence on her life and career. Her grandmother, she shared, was not so interested in telling her grandchildren folktales, but in public history, “the factual things”, and was the inspiration for her career as a historian.

Before closing her remarks with a recitation of her poem “Negro Cemeteries,” Dr. Cooper also thanked her African ancestors. “They were not meant to survive,” she reflected, referencing the history of the slave trade in the Americas, “but here I am.”

The ceremony closed with a reading from Rebecca Thomas, who shared her poem “Footnotes,” which she said shared the hope “for all the things I care about.”

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is happy to share that later that day, Dr. Cooper stopped by our offices to renew her membership with the WFNS.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca