City names new poet laureate

Janet Marie Rogers is "geared to go" and will "hit the ground running."

Janet Marie Rogers was recently named to the post of Victoria's Poet Laureate for a three year term.


The City of Victoria named Mohawk/Tuscarora poet, radio host, writer, performer and artist Janet Marie Rogers to the post of poet laureate. Rogers will hold the position for a three year term and one week into her post, she already has many exciting projects in the works including a new poetry reading at the Fernwood Inn beginning in April.

I’m geared to go, ready to hit the ground running,” says Rogers.

The new poetry reading is called BYOP (bring your own poetry), starting Earth Day (April 22) in the Fernwood Inn’s private back room.

Rogers went into discussions with her liaison at the City of Victoria with about 30 ideas for projects over the next three years. “I don’t know if they were excited or overwhelmed,” she says with a laugh. Either way, Rogers says the thing that excites her most about her new gig is being “the people’s poet.”

I can get behind that,” says Rogers. “I embrace that title more than poet laureate. I really dig the idea of being an ambassador for Victorians.”

Another goal of hers is to raise awareness of the Coast Salish people, on whose territories Rogers was born and Victoria also lies.

I was born in Vancouver, but have lived in Victoria since 1994. It’s no surprise that I ended up here and I have no intention to leave. It’s a good life and part of that is the rich indigenous community here and we’re fortunate to be visitors on this territory.”

In February, Rogers is heading to the Banff Centre to work on some research she’s doing with the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. About 19th century First Nations poet Pauline Johnson. “I’m going to spend two weeks there working with my findings and maybe turn it into a production of some sort, whether a radio drama or for theatre,” she says.

She’ll also be presenting at the Talking Stick Festival in Vancouver Feb. 20 to March. 4.

Upon her return in March, Rogers plans to “shape those things I have in the cooker for the City,” including a Poetry Picnic and events surrounding National Aboriginal Day.

I have the opportunity in this roll to make the idea that this is the traditional Coast Salish territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt people household knowledge. If I keep repeating it at events, it’s my hope that it will just become known.” M

Bio

Janet is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations band in southern Ontario. She was born in Vancouver British Columbia and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people (Victoria, British Columbia) since 1994. Janet works in the genres of poetry, short fiction, spoken word performance poetry, video poetry and recorded poems with music and script writing.

Rogers’ first published collection of poems is titled Splitting the Heart (Ekstasis Editions 2007), which contains a companion CD of the same name.Her video poem titled “What Did You Do Boy” was launched in October 2009 in support of a spoken word track from her CD Firewater which earned nominations at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards 2009 and the Native American Music Awards 2010. You can hear Rogers on the radio hosting “Native Waves Radio” on CFUV 101.9fm Victoria and on Tribal Clefs music column every Tuesday with CBC Radio One throughout British Columbia. Her first radio documentary titled Bring Your Drum” (50 Years of Indigenous Protest Music) aired July 3rd 2011 on CBC’s Inside the Music. Bring Your Drum won the Best Radio award at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival 2011.

Ojistah Publishing (Mohawk word for star) is Janet’s publishing label from which Red Erotic, a collection of Indigenous erotica poetry and artwork was released in November 2010. Got Your Back is the title of Janet’s 3rd poetry CD done in collaboration with Mohawk poet Alex Jacobs. It contains studio and live recordings from Santa Fe New Mexico, May 2011 and released in June 2011. Janet’s newest poetry collection is titled “Unearthed” Leaf Press 2011 and has been described as a strong collection of poignant poems.

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