[the letter i e-mailed to the mayor. i urge you to contact Mayor Watson expressing your support for an Ottawa Poet Laureate appointment.]
Dear Mayor Watson,
By now you have heard from many members of the local poetry community and I don't want to repeat the reasons they have offered as to why the City would benefit from a poet laureate. I just want to give you some very specific numbers based on my eight years of running Bywords.ca, a local literary website that offers information about literary events happening in Ottawa and publishes poetry. We publish only those who are current or former Ottawa residents, students and workers.
The site attracts an average of 250 unique visitors daily.
We receive an average of 100 poems from Ottawans monthly.
Our quarterly readings are usually packed, with audiences numbering from 40-60 people.
Our literary events calendar includes at least 31 poetry related events for the month of April, 2011 alone.
Every month in Ottawa there are poetry readings, spoken word showcases and slams, writing workshops focussed on poetry taking place in Ottawa. Ottawa has hosted the Canadian Spoken Word Festival, the first annual VERSeFest and poetry events at the Ottawa International Writers Festival twice a year.
Also on the site, in the news and links section, you will notice notifications from local small press publishers about recent book releases, the advertisement of poetry retreats, numerous blogs by local poets. Local poets are also teaching young people about poetry in schools and fostering their creative development.
My point is that while the general impression might be that poetry is not of particular interest to the general public, these numbers demonstrate that there is indeed interest and participation.
Also Bywords.ca is grateful for the funding we receive from the City of Ottawa and I, personally, have also received funding from the City. The investment that the City provides for poetry is significant.
A poet laureate would offer the public a focal point for poetry and would inspire the public in these times of political and economic turmoil.
Bywords.ca and the Bywords Quarterly Journal