Internationally recognized poet Titilope Sonuga is Edmonton’s ninth Poet Laureate. The role of the poet laureate is to act as an ambassador for the literary arts and reflect the city through poetry readings. Mayor Don Iveson says this year’s call for submissions received more responses than ever before.
“It is an honour to serve in this role,” says Sonuga during the Edmonton Public Library’s Zoom call. “Edmonton has been the bedrock in which I have planted my artistic dreams.”
Sonuga was born in Nigeria and moved to Edmonton when she was 13 years old. She has a degree in civil engineering and worked in the field for five years while pursuing acting and poetry. She is the author of three award-winning collections of poetry, including 2019’s This is How We Disappear, and released two spoken-word albums.
There are many stories that aren’t being told, and Sonuga’s goal is to serve the city by telling those stories in a beautiful and accessible way. Sonuga is dedicated to community building through poetry and has facilitated adult and youth workshops worldwide. She hopes to use her platform as Poet Laureate to be a mentor.
“I think this is a really wonderful time to be the poet laureate of the city, not just in my personal life… but also because the city is in a period of blooming and opening up again tentatively,” says Sonuga. “This is a time where the arts get to do what the arts do, which is nurture, heal, encourage and provide a beacon of hope.”
Sonuga won the 2011 Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award and the 2012 Maya Angelou Poetry Contest. She’s performed at the Lagos International Poetry Festival, and staged her critically acclaimed musical Ada The Country at the Agip Recital Hall of MUSON Center in Nigeria. Sonuga also founded Edmonton’s Rouge Poetry, a weekly spoken word and performative poetry night.
Sonuga will serve as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate until 2023.
“I am grateful to be serving this role and I hope that I can do it justice,” says Sonuga. “Thank you for all your support.”