TORONTO'S SIXTH POET LAUREATE: A TIMELINE
A.F. Moritz serves as the City of Toronto’s Sixth Poet Laureate: March 2019 to March 2023.
The following is a link-rich timeline of the poet’s activities in the role.
Moritz’s Appointment as Poet Laureate is Announced in City of Toronto’s Economic and Cultural Development Committee Meeting, and the announcement is covered in the press.
City of Toronto: Press Release: Poet Laureate [pdf]
The Role of Toronto’s Poet Laureate [website] [pdf]
Edward Keenan, “Toronto’s new poet laureate A. F. Moritz….,” The Star, March 6, 2019 [website] | [pdf]
Steven W. Beattie, “A. F. Moritz Named Toronto’s Sixth Poet Laureate,” Quill and Quire, March 6, 2019 [website] | [pdf]
Johshua Freeman, “Al Moritz Named Next Poet Laureate,” CP24 dot com, March 6, 2019 [website] | [pdf]
David Rider, “New Poet Laureate, A. F. Moritz….” The Star, March 6, 2019 [website][pdf]
A private presentation on poetry to the Scrivener Square Poetry Group in respect of the recent announcement regarding the Laureate post.
Moritz attends the City’s commemoration of the Yonge Street Tragedy and reads, “Their Charge of Love,” a poem written for the occasion. The Poem is reprinted in full in the Toronto Star:
The Poet Laureate attends the Toronto Mayor’s Arts Lunch.
Moritz speaks on potential contributions of Poet Laureate to City of Toronto contribution to local BIAs at a meeting of BIA representatives and city councillors at City Hall.
“The Current of the Sugar”, a poem written for Redpath Sugar’s Open Doors Toronto celebration (scheduled for May 25) of the 60th year of its factory on the Toronto waterfront is published in the Toronto Star online edition, along with an extensive story about the Poet Laureate having been “disinvited” by Redpath from reading the poem, having found it “not celebratory enough.” The story was based upon telephone and personal interviews with AFM and a photo session with Moritz that afternoon, resulting from a contact originating from The Star.
The hosts of CBC’s As It Happens read Moritz’s controversial poem, “The Current of Sugar” and discuss the controversy with Redpath Sugar. The poem is re-broadcast on CBC’s Metro Morning on March 27, 2019.
Moritz attends the opening of Redpath Sugar’s Open Doors Toronto day and celebration of the 60th anniversary of its plant’s opening on the Toronto waterfront. However, he does not read his poem. The Toronto Star publishes its story from its Thursday online edition, and a text of “The Current of the Sugar”, as the whole of page 3 of the first section of its Saturday edition.
Brendan Kennedy, “Redpath Sugar asked Toronto’s Poet Laureate to write a poem for its anniversary, but he refused to sugar-coat it,” The Star, May 23, 2019. [website] | [pdf]
Moritz is the featured reader at the Department of English, University of Toronto, Spring Reunion, held at St. Michael’s College, UofT. The invitation is a recognition of the selection of Moritz, a member of the Department, to the Toronto laureateship. Moritz reads several poems from The Sparrow: Selected Poems (2018).
Moritz attends the Walk-With Excellence assembly at C. W. Jefferys High School and leads the students of the four high schools assembled in chanting the poem/rap written for the occasion, and which they had printed on t-shirts that they wore.
Moritz communicates with the Bloorcourt BIA, visits the area inspects the streetscape and locations, and submits a poem, “Passerby,” for use in a forthcoming street installation. The poem is accepted. Work continues in the selection of several other passages from Canadian poets to use in Bloorcourt street installations.
Moritz consults with the city of Toronto’s Cultural Development and fellow artists to help create a plaque for deceased Toronto poet Joe Rosenblatt.
The Poet Laureate appears at the Toronto Star Tent at Toronto’s Word on the Street for a panel on “Writing With The City in Mind.” Moritz joins authors Devyani Saltzman and Kevin Hardcastle for a discussion about writers and writing in Toronto moderated by Deborah Dundas.
Moritz gives a presentation on poetry and medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children, to the hospital staff association’s book club. A large attendance included also many persons from the poetry community and the general public. The Poet Laureate’s presentation included poems by several poets, including an original poem, “The Healer is Dead,” written for the occasion.
Discussions that occurred at this event between Dr. Conor Mc Donnell, poet and SickKids doctor, other SickKids staff members, and several poets, particularly Kate Marshall Flaherty, lead to the establishment of “Poetry and Healing,” a yearly fund-raiser poetry reading in support of SickKids, co-sponsored by SickKids and the League of Canadian Poets. The first “Poetry and Healing” reading is scheduled and announced for April 5, 2020, at the Supermarket nightclub and restaurant.
“The Healer is Dead,” Poem and Meditation from the 2020 event:
Moritz attends the Jaipur Literary Festival Toronto with Sally Han of Cultural Development, an event held at the Fermenting Cellar in Toronto’s Distillery District.
Moritz records an extensive interview with CBC’s Michael Enright which is published, in part, and airs, in full, in December (See Below).
In the evening, Moritz reads at Toronto’s long-established Art Bar reading series with poets Julia Gibson and Gary Barwin.
This Windsor-favourite poetry event features the City of Windsor’s poet laureate hosting an intimate evening of poetry and discussion with guest poets laureate from across Canada at the Willistead Manor. This year’s event features: A.F. Moritz (Poet Laureate, Toronto); Steven Ross Smith (Poet Laureate, Banff); Victoria Butler (Poet Laureate, Barrie); and Micheline Maylor (Poet Laureate Emeritus, Calgary). Windsor’s Youth Poet Laureate, Samantha Badaoa also shares her work at the event. Moritz reads three poems from The Sparrow: Selected Poems (2018). Moritz reads at a Windsor high school the following day.
The Poet Laureate makes a presentation on “story poems” to the Literary and Lemon Peel Society, a private poetry study group for interested high school students. The meeting is held in a home on Montclair Avenue.
Arts & Letters Club presentation of Moritz’s poetry and of Michael Redhill’s new book of poetry (Twitch Force) and recent novel (Bellevue Square), in an “in conversation with” format.
At the Free Times Café, Moritz participates in, and helped organize, a tribute memorial reading and celebration of the great Chilean-Canadian poet Ludwig Zeller, d. August 1, 2019 in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The Poet Laureate Attends the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts.
Also, Moritz’s previously unpublished poem, “Faith in Hell,” appears in the Toronto Star. The poem is dedicated to Margaret Atwood on the occasion of her 80th birthday.
Moritz is the featured reader at a poetry reading at the Toronto Public Library Annette Street branch. He is billed and welcomed as Toronto Poet Laureate.
Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, St. Clair Avenue West: Moritz attends the funeral Mass for former Toronto Poet Laureate Pier Giorgio DiCicco (d. December 22), along with former laureates Dennis Lee, George Elliott Clarke, Dionne Brand, and Anne Michaels, and many members of the literary community. Moritz continues in conversation with Anne Michaels in planning a permanent memorial for the poet.
Moritz delivers a Keynote Address, “Words are Bridges and the Word is You,” to the Toronto Writers Collective. This meeting assembles and celebrates all the organization’s facilitators (i.e., writing workshop leaders); Ralph Thornton Community Centre. 765 Queen Street East.
A memorial celebration for Pier Giorgio DiCicco, second Toronto Poet Laureate, d. December 22, 2019. Moritz arranged many of the speakers and the order of proceedings, acted as emcee, delivered prepared introductory remarks and extempore introductions of speakers and closing remarks, read poems by Giorgio, on his own behalf and for invited speakers who had to send regrets. The event took place between 7 and 9 p.m. in the Members’ Lounge of Toronto City Hall’s Council Chambers, 100 Queen Street West.
As Toronto Poet Laureate and as a member of Victoria University in the University of Toronto and of the Department of English, University of Toronto, Moritz composes and delivers welcoming remarks introducing George Elliott Clarke for his Pelham Edgar Lecture at the University of Toronto, Isabel Bader Theatre, Charles Street West.
The League of Canadian Poets and Toronto’s Union Station present Poetry in Union 2020, a public art experience.
At this event, a selection of Toronto’s strongest, most diverse and most talented poets provide personalized poetry on request to reflect participants’ own experiences and stories. Moritz delivers the opening address at noon in Union Station.
Moritz begins his second year in the role of Toronto’s Poet Laureate.
At the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, CBC Radio’s Michael Enright canvassed Canadian writers for their book recommendations in a time of crisis. That weekend, at home, I recorded my thoughts on returning to Juan Ramón Jiménez’s The Invisible Reality during the corona virus pandemic. This interview-in-isolation became part of CBC Radio’s most recent episode of The Sunday Edition, “Books for Solace, Perspective, and Connection During Self-Isolation.” In the piece, Enright links my thoughts on Jiménez with the recommendations of fellow writers Ariel Leutheusser, Rohan Maitzen, Robert Macfarlane, and Sharon Bala.
Or listen here:
In March, 2020, Moritz writes the poem “Thoughts in Time of Plague”, suggested by Toronto Cultural Development and seconded by the Toronto Star. The poem is published on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, as most of the front page of the Star print edition, and in the Star online, where in addition, a video of Moritz reading the poem was posted.
“Poetry and Healing”, the ongoing initiative of the League of Canadian Poets that was initiated by Moritz’s presentation at SickKids Hospital in 2019, was switched online when a planned fundraiser at The Supermarket was cancelled due to the pandemic. A series of poetry videos by the participants were put online over the course of the month. 11 poets presented poems, with discussion and musical backing. This series includes Moritz’s “The Healer Is Dead”, the poem that he wrote for, and presented in the original (Sept., 2019) event at SickKids that led to the creation of “Poetry and Healing.” Online contributions garnered from the “Poetry and Healing” online videos garnered more than $1,000 that was donated to SickKids.
Moritz is cited, in his role as Laureate, by Catherine Porter, for a New York Times, Canada Dispatch article about a Fox Family in Toronto’s Beaches Neighbourhood during Covid-19 social distancing.
Moritz takes part in the #onpoli podcast to discuss the creation of the new role of Poet Laureate for Ontario in the name of Gord Downie. As a way of suggesting what the new Ontario Laureate will have in store, Steve Paikin and Moritz have a lively discussion of Moritz’s role as Toronto’s Poet Laureate. They speak, in particular, about the process of writing and presenting poetry for the one-year anniversaries of the North York Van Attack and the Danforth Shooting tragedies, and what they’ve meant to him.
Moritz is invited to create a piece with his son, the artist and poet, Blaise Moritz, for the Covid-19 Responsive Public Art Project: It’s All Right Now. The project aims to speak to the multiplicity of calming and coping strategies used by the people of Toronto in response to the pandemic. Co-produced by The Bentway and Cossette, #It’sAllRightNow gathers 20 Toronto-based artists to respond to inquiry: What Words are You Living By Now?
This Moritz and Moritz collaborative piece appeared across the city on screens and surfaces, including digital billboards, wild postings, and a mobile video truck.
Moritz reads his poem “A Song of Excellence” for the 2020 (virtual edition) of the Walk With Excellence, an annual march and festival celebrating excellence among high-school students of diverse cultural backgrounds.
For the full virtual celebration, see FJGRADWALKS2020 on Youtube.
Here is a clip of Moritz’s video appearance from that event:
For the inaugural episode of the Different Boat, Same Storm Podcast, Moritz appears as the featured interview.
Here’s the interview on Youtube:
Or Listen to the episode on Spotify (or wherever you download your podcasts: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4vux4gK08z3i5W7U4xcNL3
In partnership with the League of Canadian Poets, the Eden Mills Writers Festival presents “Hot Nights, Cool Poets.” The event is a virtual night of readings from poets including: Cicely Belle Blain, Burning Sugar, Sadiqa de Meijer, The Outer Wards, Mathew Henderson, Roguelike, Julie Joosten, Nought, Canisia Lubrin, The Dyzgraphxst, Randy Lundy, Field Notes for the Self, A. F. Moritz, As Far As You Know, Tyler Pennock, Bones, Rasiqra Revulva, Cephalopography 2.0, Kevin Spenst, Hearts Amok, John Steffler, And Yet, Lily Wang, Saturn Peach.
On Saturday, August 29, at 3:00 p.m., Moritz took part in Poetry in Translation: East Meets West, a zoom interview with Anna Yin. They read and discussed poetry and translation, touching upon the myth of “lost in translation,” the art of re-creation, and the mutual exchange or benefits of the process. The audience was then invited to respond.
Moritz’s appearance is part of a series of four interviews and a break-out session, featuring poets Molly Peacock [Aug 14, 8:00pm], myself, [Aug 29, 3:00pm], Alice Major [Sept 11,8:00pm] and George Elliott Clarke [Sept 25, 8:00pm] in conversation with translator Anna Yin. A fifth, summarizing session then followed [Oct 3, 3:00pm].
Here is the video of the One-on-One:
And here is the Break-out-session:
For Thin Air, the online 2020 Winnipeg International Writers Festival, Moritz contributed a reading of 11 poems from his new book, As Far As You Know as well as an explanation of the roots of some of these pieces. He also delivered a talk on the social justice aspect of some of the poems in the book. The reading is still available on video:
Toronto’s Poet Laureate attends the 2020 Mayor’s Arts Luncheon, held online due to the pandemic.
Toronto Word on the Street Presents “Poets on the Tangibility of Living.” Poets Sachiko Murakami (Render), Randy Lundy (Field Notes for the Self), and A.F.Moritz traverse a series of befores and afters, experiencing the darknesses of life and exploring what comes after. This event is moderated by Kirby of Knife | Fork | Book.
In the fall of 2020, the city of Toronto reveals a bench in the Bloorcourt village area with an engraved poem by Moritz.
Photo credit: Paul Vermeersch
Photo Credit: Ana Bilao
Poetry in Translation: East Meets West One-on-One”, organized by poet and former Poet Laureate of Mississauga, Anna Yin. This is the concluding meeting in the event of five linked readings under the topic. The concluding meeting gathers all four poets—Moritz, George Elliot Clarke, Alice Major, and Molly Peacock—and adds contributions from Anna Yin herself and poet Michael Mirolla, publisher of Guernica Editions, which will publish a book of English-Chinese poetry translations by Anna.
Moritz acts as host and introducer for a poetry and fiction reading by six Toronto Writers Collective authors in the IFOA Festival at Harbourfront. This event also serves as the book launch for two new anthologies of writers published by the Toronto Writers Collective, including, together, several dozen poets and authors.
Toronto’s Poet Laureate participates in the Tartan Turban Secret Readings #27, A Political Poetry Reading, curated by Kate Rogers and Bänoo Zan. Moritz is a featured reader, along with Andrea Thompson, Diana Manole and Lisa Richter.
“Where I’m From.” The Toronto Writers Collective (TWC) empowers the voices and illuminates the undiscovered strength in Toronto’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. Together, we worked to create a special video installation at Toronto’s Union Station capturing the strength and depth of TWC’s latest anthologies: Front Lines: Bent, Not Broken and Front Lines: Until The Words Run Pure.
The video installation:
The Mayor’s Evening for the Arts, 2020, takes place online and Moritz attends as Poet Laureate.
Here’s what the CBC had to say:
“As Far As You Know (A. F. Moritz, House of Anansi Press) is divided into six sections each dealing with a different concept, from terrorism to friendship. This collection dives deep into the poet’s mind revealing his ongoing obsessions with beauty, impermanence, social conscience, responsibility and love.”
Poet Anna Yin’s translations of three of Moritz’s poems into Chinese appear in WePoetry, Mirrors and Windows [January, Vol. 28, 2021.] Yin offers her versions of “A Narrow Silent Throat,” “Every Step was into a New World,” and “Poetry.”
This trio appears alongside Yin’s translations of poems by Molly Peacock, Alice Major, and former Toronto Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke.
Additionally, Yin posts two poems of her own dedicated to Molly Peacock and to Moritz.
The first of two Emotion Put into Measure podcasts featuring Moritz airs: Al Moritz: Sweet, Dramatic, Relaxing Early Poems.
Moritz’s interview with the Emotion Put into Measure, Poetry Matters Podcast airs. Moritz discusses his role as Poet Laureate.
Two of Moritz’s poems appear in Issue 4 (2.15.21) of Volume online poetry magazine. The poems printed in this issue are: “The Only Remaining Flower” and “Long Struggle and Float.” Additionally, Moritz has an interview with Communications and Features Editor [and former student!] Lauren Peat.
Moritz participates in Here is Elsewhere, Literature in Translation. On Friday, February 19, 2021, from 7 -8 PM, Moritz and Iacobelli discuss and read the poetry of Ludwig Zeller. Their moderator is Beatriz Hausner.
This event airs live on zoom. It is presented by Literary Translators’ Association of Canada / Association des traducteurs et traductrices littéraires du Canada, as part of its focus on Ontario.
Watch the video in its entirety:
The the Saint Mary’s University Reading Series presents Don Domanski: A Celebration. This is a live zoom event dedicated to the poetry of Don Domanski, winner of the Governor General’s Award, the CBC Literary Prize, and the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Award, among other honours.
Readers include: Brian Bartlett, Yvonne Blomer, Marilyn Bowering, Lorna Crozier, Barry Dempster, Tonja Gundvaldsen Klaassen, Ross Leckie, Richard Lemm, Tim Lilburn, Alexander MacLeod, Alice Major, A.F. Moritz, David O’Meara, Arleen Paré, Shannon Quinn, John Reibetanz, Sue Sinclair, Carmine Starnino, John Steffler, Yvonne Trainer, and Margo Wheaton.
In his role as Toronto’s Poet Laureate, Moritz reads his poem, “Exactly Here the Marvel Spoke” at the March 10, 2021 meeting of Toronto City Council. The poem commemorates twelve months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here’s a video of Moritz reading of the poem, introduced by Mayor John Tory:
Here’s a video the CBC put together featuring the poem and images of Toronto: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1871915075826/
And, here’s a link to the poem’s publication in the March 10 Books Section of The Toronto Star: Toronto’s Poet Laureate A.F. Moritz Marks a Year of The Pandemic in a Poem, “Exactly Here the Marvel Spoke,” You Can Read It Here.
Gordon Hill Press publishes Moritz’s book, The Garden. The book is comprised of a long-form poem, “The Garden in the Midst,” and an essay, “The Poet’s Garden.” Moritz originally composed the work in response to the 1992 L.A. Riots and set it aside for some time. In 2020, with the police murder of George Floyd, Moritz took up the project again and expanded and revised. The book suggests that only the essence of poetry can prove antithetical antidote—if there can even be one—to these human crimes and tragedies.
On Sunday, April 25, Moritz takes part in the Gordon Hill Press Spring 2021 Launch Party. He launches The Garden, a poem and an essay, alongside Roxanna Bennett’s The Untranslatable I, Khashayar Mohammadi’s Me, You, Then Snow, and Concetta Principe’s Stars Need Counting.
Here’s the full launch party, which can also be viewed on YouTube:
Those looking for Moritz’s specific appearance can begin the video at around the 43 minute mark.
Soon after, The Garden is part of the CBC’s list of 55 Canadian Poetry Collections to Check Out in Spring 2021.
As Far As You Know is among this year’s five finalists for the Trillium Book Award in English, awarded by Ontario Creates. Moritz shares the honour with Craig Davidson, Farzana Doctor, Emma Donoghue, and Souvankham Thammavongsa.
Here’s the official video announcement from Ontario Creates:
In his role as Poet Laureate, Moritz attends the 2021 Mayor’s Lunch Online.
Moritz appears on the CBC Ideas podcast on May 13, 2021, on the episode entitled, No Feeling is Final: The Wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke.
The same day, the CBC’s Pauline Holdsworth publishes a companion to the podcast, “Live the Questions Now, Reading Rilke in a Time of Uncertainty.” [pdf]
“Exactly Here the Marvel Spoke” is printed for the first time in its full version in the Summer 2021 issue of Long Live Queen West, the print magazine of the Queen West BIA.
Here is a link to the Summer Issue of the magazine on Issuu.
Here is the feature page for the poem.
Here is an image of the the poem as it appears in the magazine.
Here is a pdf of the featured spread.
Vakxikon publishes Σπουργίτης, Stergia Kavvalou’s Greek translation of Moritz’s short poems from The Sparrow. And Moritz’s great friend, the poet and translator Beatriz Hausner provides an introduction.
Moritz celebrates Ravine Days with the City of Toronto. This series of events, hosted by Toronto Parks & Forestry, takes place from October 2-11, 2021. Residents can learn about the City of Toronto’s beautiful ravine system, environmentally significant areas and their biodiversity. The program includes self-directed activities, virtual and in-person events, offering something for everyone to enjoy.
As Toronto’s Poet Laureate, Moritz provides a “Haiku-a-day” to celebrate Toronto’s ravines.
The best place to find these as the event is ongoing is via Toronto Parks and Forestry’s social media channels:
Here are the Haiku as they appear on Twitter, daily:
October 2, 2021
October 3, 2021
October 4, 2021
October 5, 2021
October 6, 2021
October 7, 2021
October 8, 2021
October 9, 2021
October 10, 2021
October 11, 2021