Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

George Elliott Clarke

George Elliott Clarke

George Elliott Clarke was the 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the 7th Parliamentary/ Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is a revered artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry. His publications number titles in Braille, Chinese, Italian, and Romanian.

Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1960, Clarke is a matrilineal descendant of African-Americans and Cherokee (peoples transported to Nova Scotia during the War of 1812) and a patrilineal descendant of an African-American great-grandfather and a Jamaican grandfather. He be Afro-Métis.

Educated at the University of Waterloo, Dalhousie University, and Queen’s University, Clarke is a pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature. The inaugural E. J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard.

He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer. Also he is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

His recognitions include the Bellagio Center Fellowship, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), International Fellow Poet—Encyclopedic Poetry School Trophy (China), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. In 2021, he was named a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets.

Clarke’s work is the subject of Africadian Atlantic: Essays on George Elliott Clarke (2012), edited by Joseph Pivato, as well as a substantial entry in Contemporary Literary Criticism, volume 459 (2020), also overseen by Professor Pivato.

Writers Festival Appearances