Poet Laureate Georgette LeBlanc: Canada’s Choice Bard
The honor of being named Poet Laureate of Canada is a fairly new post created by the Canadian Parliament. It was created in 2001 and thus far there have been eight poets named to this post by the Speaker of the House of Parliament and the Speaker of the House of Commons, each one serving up to two years each for a stipend of $20,000 per year. The duties of the chosen poet include writing poetry for special occasions of national importance, giving poetry readings, and advising Canada’s national Parliamentary Library which books to acquire. And in order to qualify for the position the poet must have made significant contributions to the literature and culture of the nation that captures the spirit of the Canadian people and be a significant influence on other writers,
Poet Georgette LeBlanc was Canada’s last poet laureate serving from 2018 to 2019. and she captured the spirit of the Canadian people in her award winning book entitled ‘Prudence” which tells the story of the unjust expulsion of the Acadian people from Canada from her main character’s point of view. The poetry in this book is written in French and consist of narrative poems that expertly weave the story, although LeBlanc’s primary form of writing is free verse poetry according to her own words.
LeBlanc says of her own poetry,
My poetry, my way of writing poetry, is trying to tell a story. I’m trying to show you something, or make you feel something. I’m trying to draw you into my world, so it’s important for me to elicit some kinf of response in the reader, positive or negative, but to tell a story.
And “Prudence’ is the story of how the Acadian people were deported from Canada by British soldiers and scattered throughout the Thirteen British colonies to the south of them, the Caribbean, and back to Euope. The Acadian people were descendants of the original French settlers in Canada, many of whom settled in the American state of Louisiana and are known as the Cajun people of today.
Today, LeBlanc is living in the Provence of Nova Scotia is is the busy 43 year old mother of three children ages six, nine, and twelve and works in the archives department of University Sante Anne. She says that it is necessary to make time to write, “We all have bills to pay, we have to get things done. I have kids so it frees up time..”
Leblanc is the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry and has written several books including Alma, Amede, and Le Grand Feu. So it sounds like LeBlanc is an ordinary woman with children and a job, but she also possesses an extraordinary talent for literature.