Dal English grad named Halifax’s ninth poet laureate

- May 3, 2024

Anna Quon (BA’89), who studied English at Dalhousie, has been named Halifax’s ninth poet laureate, an appointment effective until 2027. 

According to the city, the poet laureate is a resident poet, storyteller or spoken word artist who acts as an ambassador and advocate for literacy, literature and the arts. Typically, the poet laureate makes appearances and delivers poetry readings at civic events, among other programming and engagement duties. 

Quon is a poet, author and emerging filmmaker, with two decades of experience in Halifax’s non-profit sector. Her recent film, “Me and My Teeth,” was screened at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry.

She also works part-time for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Halifax-Dartmouth Branch as a creativity facilitator. As she puts it, she plans to use her new position to look for poetry in “some of the places in the municipality we might not usually think of when we think of poetry.” 

Quon takes over from Sue Goyette, who served as poet laureate from 2020–2024, and who teaches in Dal’s English Department.

Dr. Jennifer Andrews, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, says it’s no surprise her faculty has been home to multiple poet laureates. 

“Dalhousie’s Department of English teaches the analytical skills to engage with the world thoughtfully, empathetically and with a powerful critical eye,” says Dr. Andrews says. “Those qualities make Dalhousie English an ideal place to learn and practice this incredible combination of skills through a creative lens.” 

The poetry of everyday moments

As part of her new role, Quon plans to highlight the poetry of everyday moments and engage with folks who may not see themselves as poets.

“I think there are so many people who secretly write poetry,” she says with a grin.

Some of the people Quon has in mind include municipal waste collectors. “That’s a hard and important job that doesn’t get enough attention,” she explains. “I’d like to hear what [those folks] have to say.” 

And even if those folks don’t have written or spoken poetry, Quon knows poetry manifests in other ways. Quon herself typically takes inspiration from something as small as a word or a turn of phrase, and says people just sometimes need a reminder that poetry is all around us: “It’s in greeting cards, songs, on the bus. Even dance, with its repeated movements, is sort of like rhyming.”

Quon says Halifax is brimming with talented poets and writers and she sees her appointment as a responsibility and a job — one she takes seriously, even if she feels a little awkward to be thrust into the spotlight.

“Poets aren't usually in the thick of things,” Quon says. “They're on the edge, maybe observing and writing about the things they see or experience.”


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