I think every government should have one, and Ontario now does; a Poet Laureate.
A private members bill was passed last Thursday, and while the position itself is significant, its dedication is heartwarming.
The Poet Laureate of Ontario Act In Memory of Gord Downie; the bill was named after The Tragically Hip singer and lyricist.
Downie died in 2017 after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and following a coast-to-coast Canadian tour that seemed to reunite the country.
The Hip, after 33 years on the road, had come to be known as Canada’s house band.
Everyone seemed to have a favorite song, or lyrics that spoke loudly, or took them back to a where and when.
Downie’s lyrics were layered with Canadian landmarks and landscapes. The references were not always obvious, but you could taste a nationality. Downie was a wordsmith, true and whole. He took what surrounded him, captured the essence of the environment, and turned out daring (occasionally oblique) lyrics with a twisted and torrential rhyme and reason.
Yes, without the music, it read well as poetry. There was some beautiful stuff.
The Poet Laureate of Ontario will raise the profile of the province’s poetry and poets.
That is a beautiful thing.