Poet in Place
The City of Hamilton is pleased to announce that Lishai Peel has been selected as Hamilton’s first Poet in Place.
As Poet in Place for 2024-2025, Lishai Peel will perform original works, enhance public spaces through poetry projects and deliver workshops in partnership with the Hamilton Public Library. Rooted in creative placemaking, the Poet in Place program will create meaningful opportunities for Hamiltonians to engage with the poetic arts.
Lishai Peel is a Hamilton based writer, spoken word artist and community engaged consultant with over a decade of experience working in the arts and culture sector. Alongside being a working writer, Lishai has freelanced for various institutions and youth serving organizations, supporting them to think through matters of access, representation, and equity in the arts. Lishai's approach is fuelled by a recognition that people know what is best for their communities and any work that is carried out, programming or advocacy, must be deeply rooted in local contexts.
As a spoken word artist, Lishai has performed in over 300 venues across the country. Her voice and poetry have also been featured in multiple campaigns which were broadcasted nationally on MTV and Bell Media.
She was the co-founder of Ink Veins: Young Women's Writing Collective and the co-author of a graphic novel, Why Birds and Wolves Don't Trade Stones, illustrated by artist David Brame. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with dancers and musicians through various projects. In 2014, she released an album entitled From Here On, with her long-time collaborator, musician, and composer Waleed Abdulhamid.
Mentorship plays a central role in Lishai's artistic practice. Not only has she mentored countless youth and emerging writers, she herself has also been mentored by some of Canada's greatest writers and performers. In her early days as a performer, Lishai was mentored by Dwayne Morgan, d'bi young anitafrika, Sheri-D Wilson, and Catherine Hernandez. Lishai's creative nonfiction projects have been supported by Alicia Elliott (through Room Magazine) and Ayelet Tsabari (through the Writers' Trust of Canada). Alessandra Naccarrato has acted as a poetry editor and mentor. While completing a graduate certificate in creative writing at Humber College, Karen Connelly was Lishai's mentor and Kyo Maclear was her thesis advisor during her MFA program.
Her writing has won awards with The Malahat Review, The Vancouver Writers Fest and The Writers’ Trust of Canada. Her essays and poems have been published by Book*hug Press, Room Magazine, Lilith Magazine, Hey Alma, Middleground Magazine, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Malahat Review, Illanot Review and others.
Lishai has an MFA in creative writing from Guelph University and currently works as the ED of gritLIT, Hamilton's literary festival. Outside of her professional commitments and writing life, Lishai spends time tending to her garden, going on ice climbing and hiking adventures, and managing her energetic eight-year-old’s busy schedule. Lishai’s son would like the City of Hamilton to know that he is committed in his role of Hamilton’s first official poetry butler. Learn more about Lishai Peel at www.lishai.ca
Poet in Place Program
Poet in Place is a new and unique pilot program introduced by the City of Hamilton. More accessible and inclusive than a traditional Poet Laureate program, the Poet in Place program is rooted in creative placemaking and strives to create meaningful opportunities for Hamiltonians to engage with the poetic arts.
The Poet in Place program recognizes a local poet or spoken word artist who, through poetry-based projects and programs, will:
- Enhance public spaces and connect Hamiltonians to their communities
- Provide opportunities for public engagement with poetry and spoken word
- Increase the visibility of the poetic arts in the city
The poet or spoken word artist will serve a two-year term and receive an honorarium of $20,000 over the two-year term ($10,000 per year). Each year, the Poet in Place will:
- Perform original works of poetry or spoken word at city events and programs
- Develop and deliver poetry workshops in partnership with Hamilton Public Libraries
- Develop and implement creative placemaking projects
Hamilton City Council passed a motion in the fall of 2022 for the Tourism and Culture Division to develop a Poet Program. After conducting research, consulting with the community, and developing a framework for poetry-driven placemaking, the Poet in Place program was created. This program was approved by City Council in June of 2023.
Applications to the Poet in Place program were accepted in Fall 2023. A jury comprised of poets, literary artists, and individuals with project and placemaking expertise reviewed and scored all eligible submissions using the selection criteria. One non-voting member from the Tourism and Culture Division also participated in the discussion.
The adjudicators reviewed all applications submitted and were impressed by the quality of applications received.
Lishai Peel’s application achieved the highest score during the adjudication process and her work received high praise. In particular, the adjudication team recognized her poetic voice, impactful performance ability, and her experience in creative project management. They also noted the high level of community engagement demonstrated in Lishai’s application and the potential to build connections between the general public and the poetic arts through the power of words.