|This year at the 2010 Barrie Arts Awards, the Department of Culture crowned the City of Barrie’s first Poet Laureate, Dr. Bruce Meyer. The Poet Laureate is a prestigious designation that is awarded to a candidate, selected by jury, that has published works, presented their works at public events or forums and has been acknowledged for their literary creations by the local community. The Poet Laureate or “the people’s poet” acts as a champion for poetry, language and the arts by raising its profile through public engagements and civic interactions. The Poet Laureate acts as a literary ambassador and works to educate and promote poetry and the literary arts in our City and serves for a four year term running concurrent to the Council’s.
Dr. Bruce Meyer was a natural choice for this position due to his extensive resume, history in poetry and the literary arts and tireless work in the Barrie literary community. Bruce Meyer has had the love of the English language in his heart and head forever. He married a CBC journalist – Kerry Johnston, and has one daughter Kathleen. Bruce is a Professor of English and currently teaches at Georgian College in the University Studies Program. He has taught at the Universities of Toronto, Texas and Laurentian and at Humber and Seneca Colleges and St. Michael’s College, U. of T. to name but a few.
Bruce has played numerous roles in the literary life of our region, including the Artistic Director of the Leacock Summer Festival of Canadian Literature since 1999, the Literary Co-ordinator of Carnegie Days for the MacLaren Art Centre. He is an advisor for the L3 literary conference and currently sits on the Barrie Arts and Culture Council.
Dr. Bruce Meyer is the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry, and several books of fiction. His creative work has been recognized with several awards and honorable mentions and rewarded by arts council grants, and writers-in-residence positions. In addition, to his poetry and fiction, Bruce has edited numerous anthologies and is the author of several critical works, including the best seller, The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey through the Great Books. Selected by CBC Radio, Bruce worked with Michael Enright and several literary programs, including The Great Books- the best selling cd set at CBC boutique- A Novel Idea, and Great Poetry: Poetry is Life and Vice Versa.
In addition to professional readings, Bruce has donated performances as well as his time and energy to many causes and festivals. Through each of these events, Bruce has not only encouraged local talent, but has worked hard to expose our city to great literature.
Commenting on his selection as the Barrie’s first Poet Laureate he said “ I would like to awaken the citizens of Barrie to poetry and to the breadth of their experience that can be expressed by poetry”.
On Monday January 17, 2011 the Barrie Arts Awards recipients and the Poet Laureate were presented to City Council and Dr. Meyer wrote the following poem for the occasion.
The Spirit Catcher
With wind in my face I sat one morning
by the mooring basin of Kempenfelt Bay
and wondered if cities are made of dreams,
the razor’s edge of wings on wind,
groaning great knives of steel delight.
A seagull down on Maple Street cried
the Spirit Catcher sings all night
and is waiting for us to sing along.
Listen to your heart, the bird insisted.
There’s poetry if you know how to hear,
in stones, and streets, and civic life,
the networks that connect us all.
Thank you, Mr. Gull, I replied, saluting.
No problem, he said. Now learn to fly.