In keeping with the notion that the position of the Poet Laureate is an honour bestowed rather than a position of employment, poets are not invited to apply for the position. A selection committee of experts is convened prior to each Poet Laureate’s term to nominate and recommend each appointment. The committee typically includes the previous Poet Laureate, a representative from the League of Canadian Poets and a representative from Toronto Public Library, plus two individuals from the local literary community.

The following duties and terms of the Poet Laureate were approved by Council at its meeting held on March 12, 2001.


The Poet Laureate must be given the opportunity to write. The Poet Laureate will commit approximately 15 percent of his/her working time to duties as the Poet Laureate. The time is to be devoted to serving as Toronto’s literary ambassador at events that promote the literary arts and to creating a legacy project for the people of Toronto. The duties of the Poet Laureate do not include reading manuscripts or writing poems for civic occasions. It is the wish of Council that the Poet Laureate develop a legacy project for the City. The project must be designed in co-operation with City staff and will be unique to the individual.


The term of the Poet Laureate is three years.

Selection Criteria

The Poet Laureate must be a Toronto poet who has produced a body of published work that:

  1. displays literary excellence;
  2. includes poems about Toronto subjects; and
  3. has influenced other writers.

The Poet Laureate must be willing to serve and have the ability to be an ambassador for writers and the literary arts.


The Poet Laureate receives an honorarium of $10,000 per annum. Travel and incidental expenses associated with performing the Poet Laureate’s duties shall come from that sum and will not be reimbursed. The City of Toronto gives the money to the Poet Laureate outright and will not audit expenses.

Administrative Support

Administrative support includes a mailing address and support for routine office tasks and correspondence. It does not include secretarial assistance for preparing drafts or manuscripts for publication.

Intellectual Property

All writing, notes and original materials produced during the tenure of the Poet Laureate remain the property of the individual, who shall retain all right thereto.

Publicity and Promotion

The City of Toronto undertakes to use its communication resources to promote the post of Poet Laureate. City web pages and social media channels will be leveraged.