What is a Poet Laureate?

A poet honoured for literary achievement, appointed for a specific term to represent a particular country, region, or group. A poet laureate may also be acclaimed rather than officially appointed.

What is the Role of a Poet Laureate?

Generally, a poet laureate’s main role is to serve as a literary ambassador, an advocate for poetry, language and the arts. A few are required to write poems for special occasions, but that is not the general rule. Rather the poet is supposed to concentrate on their own work and share that with their community. Often a poet laureate will create a legacy project during their term.

John B. Lee, Norfolk County’s Poet Laureate

In 2010 John B. Lee was inducted as Poet Laureate of Norfolk County.


  • In 2005 John B. Lee was inducted as Poet Laureate of Brantford in perpetuity. The same year he received the distinction of being named Honourary Life Member of The Canadian Poetry Association.
  • In 2007 he was made a member of the Chancellor’s Circle of the President’s Club of McMaster University and named first recipient of the inaugural Black Moss Press Souwesto Award for his contribution to the ethos of writing in Southwestern Ontario.
  • A recipient of over seventy prestigious international awards for his writing he is winner of $10,000 CBC Literary Award for Poetry, the only two time recipient of the People’s Poetry Award, and 2006 winner of the inaugural Souwesto/Orison Writing Award (University of Windsor).
  • In 2007 he was named winner of the Winston Collins Award for Best Canadian Poem and in 2010 he received the International Poets Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Global Peace through World Poetry and he is the recipient of the University of Western Ontario Alumini Professional Achievement Award.
  • He has well-over fifty books published to date and is the editor of seven anthologies including two best-selling works: That Sign of Perfection: poems and stories on the game of hockey; and Smaller Than God: words of spiritual longing.
  • His work has appeared internationally in over 500 publications, and has been translated into French, Spanish, Korean, Hungarian and Chinese. He has read his work in nations all over the world including South Africa, France, Korea, Cuba, Canada and the United States.
  • He has been to Cuba on many occasions, is a member in good standing of the Canada Cuba Literary Alliance and his book of poems Island on the Wind-Breathed Edge of the Sea (Hidden Brook Press, 2009) was inspired by his travels in Cuba.
  • He has received letters of praise from Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Australian Poet, Les Murray, and Senator Romeo Dallaire. Called “the greatest living poet in English,” by poet George Whipple.
  • He lives in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada where he works as a full time author.

Ode on the Rededication of Lynnwood Avenue

A poem written for the occasion of the rededication of Lynnwood Avenue, July 28th, 2011

here where the summer-shallow river
sings its secret name and
we who sign the water
like the wind admire
how the lime-green linden
stir their leaves and breathe
to whisper when
and with and where
because the road-dust shocked
their man-moved earth for weeks
the walls we’ve built

meantime deep gravel’s damp & dry, and dry & damp
and damp & dry again
until with work
the final paving’s black and fragrant in the heat
for brimstone hours
flat-burning in the sun
the tar laid smoking smooth
as house by house
and home by home
macadam crawled
and ravelled out
a smouldering patch
of tarvia and pitch
that cools beneath
the coming praise of cars

then squirrels
come down to test
the perils
of a second darker shade

the postman walks his rounds with greater ease

two neighbours meet
to gather news
against an interloping coon

one tom cat
roams anew
the unfamiliar regions
of his nose-dabbed Avenue

somewhere tomorrow
strokes its stubbled chin

the linden turns its leaf
to take in gifts of grace
as green leaves often will

– John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Norfolk County