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Hits: 1964
Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Gerald Hill. Photo by Jessie Anton.

When Gerald Hill became the new Saskatchewan poet laureate, every goose sang like Adele, the Canadian dollar and the price of oil went up, and the Roughriders were back on top—in other words, the minute he was appointed, everything fell into place, according to his latest poem, at least.

 

Parallel to his writing, Hill plans to take a fresh approach to being the 2016-2017 Saskatchewan poet laureate. Heading in a modern direction via the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Facebook page—where he posts short YouTube videos of him reciting stanzas of his hottest poem, “When I Became Poet Laureate”—Hill is already in his element and finding the imaginative in his new position.

 

When Hill discovered that he would take over the role as Saskatchewan poet laureate, he wasn’t surprised. “If you’ve been around for a certain period of time or if you’re of a certain age, you’re sort of eligible. So, in that sense, it’s sort of my turn,” he said, modest, yet sure.

 

He remembers it as though it was last Tuesday. During a routine November bike ride through Wascana Park, he received the news by phone from the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, and later finalized things by signing a two-year contract to be a local celebrity and poetry idol.

 

The Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Program, the first provincial program of its kind in Canada, started in 2000 with the support of the Lieutenant Governor, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Saskatchewan Book Awards and the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild.

 

Although poet laureate is traditionally a ceremonial role, “I’m not so interested in the ceremonial,” admits Hill. “I want to have fun with my job, I want to have fun with my writing. It’s important to deliver an experience for people to explore.”

 

Hill’s desire to climb aboard a literature rollercoaster of exploration began at a young age. From his early years of re-writing commercials to his more-recent writing adventures in classrooms worldwide, Hill’s necessity to add texture and colour through language has proven powerful in his own life and to those that he has influenced along the way.

 

For Ariana Vogel, one of Hill’s former students at the University of Regina, it is his “digging deeper” techniques that remind her why she loves writing. “Gerry helped me become a better writer, which in turn helped me become more confident in teaching writing to my students in my internship,” said Vogel, who is working toward an education degree.

 

Like Vogel, Katya Wenc is one of Hill’s former creative writing students. For Wenc, it is Hill’s drive to help writers pursue something deeper that makes him unforgettable. “He makes you write about what makes you uncomfortable, and that brings out raw material that a young writer may not tap into on their own,” explained Wenc. “His approach was a new perspective that furthered my love for the creative.”

 

When told of Hill’s new position, Wenc said, “Moving forward as poet laureate allows him to share his love for writing with even more people across the province, including those who may not consider themselves writers.”

 

Hill has great plans to travel and to be very proactive in his role as poet laureate. Not even two weeks into his two years, Hill has already contacted various local arts councils and venues where he hopes to plan poetry events to share his love for writing across the prairies, amid his own personal poetry projects.

 

In between endeavours, Hill finds solace in his day-to-day writing around Regina. “It’s the act of applying language to ordinary situations that’s inspiring. That’s all I need,” he said.