Thursday, April 22, 2010

Island Poet Named Recipient of New Literary Award!

Sooke poet Wendy Morton has been named the first recipient of The Spirit Bear Award. This biannual tribute, founded by Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier with support from the Victoria, BC poetry community, recognizes the significance of a vital and enduring contribution to the poetry of the West Coast.

Morton, a resident of Vancouver Island, was honoured at a surprise gala presentation in Victoria, on Friday, 16 April. Lucinda Chodan, Editor-in-Chief of The Victoria Times-Colonist, poet and novelist Patrick Lane and poet and memoirist Lorna Crozier each spoke of Morton’s extensive support of poetry and poets during the celebration. She was presented with a carved Spirit Bear Box made by Sooke artist John Mugford. A very surprised Morton then spoke of her work with First Nations peoples, helping both children and adults tell their stories in poetry.

Wendy Morton, the author of four books of poetry and a memoir, also created Planet Earth Poetry, the popular Victoria reading series now in its second decade. Morton was instrumental in founding Victoria’s Poet Laureate position as well as Random Acts of Poetry, an annual event across Canada and now in the United Kingdom that has seen poets reading in schools, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, municipal offices, and taxi cabs. She has been Westjet’s Poet of the Skies and has taught poetry at the Victoria READ Society and in public schools across Canada. For the past fifteen years she has managed the annual Master Poetry classes at The Juan de Fuca poetry retreats. "Poetry is the shortest distance between two hearts," said the passionate literary leader.

Patrick Lane called her a literary treasure and a dynamic force in the literature of this country. “I can think of no one who has so dedicated her life to this island’s literary community. In doing so she has raised the awareness of people, helping them discover their own stories and songs through the art of the poem. A passionate advocate for poetry and the richness it brings to people’s lives, she is most deserving of this inaugural community award.”

Photo credit: Rhonda Ganz. In attached photo r.: Lorna Crozier, Wendy Morton, Patrick Lane.


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