Winnipeg Arts Council

Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate

Headshot of a woman with shoulder-length hair, smiling with hangs tented, wearing a brown jacket in front of several houseplants.

Di Brandt was Winnipeg’s first Poet Laureate, serving for 2018 & 2019. Di is an internationally renowned, multiple award-winning poet, author, essayist, and literary critic. She has published several volumes of poetry including her most recent, Glitter & fall: Laozi's Dao De Jing, Transinhalations (Turnstone Press 2018). Her work has won numerous awards, including the McNally Robinson Award for Manitoba Book of the Year, the CAA National Poetry Prize, and the Gabrielle Roy Prize for best book of literary criticism in Canada. Di has held research and writing positions at the Universities of Alberta, Manitoba, Windsor, Brandon, and Winnipeg.

During her tenure, Di composed new work and created new events. In celebration of National Poetry Month, she presented an address to Winnipeg’s City Council on the history of Winnipeg poets and the influence they have had on the shaping of our city. From the 19th-century verses of Louis Riel and Charles Mair to the 21st-century writings of Catherine Hunter and Katherena Vermette, Di demonstrated how artists, and poets in particular, have always been city builders.

Di also established Poetry in Many Languages, a celebration of verse in which citizens from around the world, but who call Winnipeg home, recite poems in their heritage languages. The event takes place around World Poetry Day in March and has featured poems written and presented in English, French, Cree, Swahili, Kráo, Ukrainian, Afrikaans, Tamil, Japanese, Polish, American Sign Language, Russian, Yoruba, Arabic, German, Ojibwe, Michif, Mandarin, Latvian, Yiddish, Vietnamese, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Punjabi.

Di completed her term as Poet Laureate at the end of 2019. To mark the occasion she organized Glitter & Fall: A Gala Poetry/Music Recital where her poems were set to music by Canadian composers and performed by some of Winnipeg's finest artists including the great Tracy Dahl. A portion of this event can be heard on Turnstone Press's YouTube Channel.

As a legacy of her tenure as Poet Laureate, Di also collaborated with Winnipeg’s Public Art Program to create Winnipeg Words, a series of public poetry installations launched in 2020.