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Anna Marie Sewell

Anna Marie Sewell is Edmonton’s 4th Poet Laureate. She invites all Edmontonians (visitors, too) to come write to her at the Poem Catcher in City Hall, and looks forward to the rest of her PL term being even more fun than the first quarter has been. Anna Marie also teaches at The Learning Centre Literacy Association, and dabbles in music, gardening and related arcane pursuits.

Anna Marie has long been fascinated with languages; both her parents learned English at school, her mother's first language being Polish, and her father's, Ojibwe. She picked up a smattering of Polish via grandparents, and later studied it at university - unfortunately, she was also studying Spanish and French at the time, and struggling with narcolepsy (sudden uncontrollable sleep attacks, including one during the final exam... nie dobre! not good!)

As for Ojibwe, it is rumoured that her copy of a computer course in basic Ojibwe is pirated; if true, would this constitute some sort of obscure payback for her father's language loss via church schools? Although it may be tacky to kiss and tell, Anna Marie is unashamed to admit flirtations with Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin, as well as her longer-term relationships with French (it all began in high school...) and Spanish, her steady beau throughout post-secondary. As Poet Laureate, her first official poem was presented in 5 languages - the four English verses translated into French, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. Later, she got the Korean verse replaced, with a Chinese translation by Hong-Kong born writer George Ng.

Why present a poem in languages you either don't speak fluently, or don't even know? For two main reasons. First, in recognition of the international Sister relationships Edmonton (and Alberta) have with municipalities and provinces in many lands: French for Gatineau, Quebec; Japanese for Hokkaido-ken; Korean for Wonju-shi and Gangwon-do; Russian for Yamalo-Nenets region; and Chinese for Harbin, Heilongjiang and Qunquing. And also, as tribute and recognition of the many people whose beautifully elegant thoughts and feelings are hidden, while they struggle to find enough English to be accepted as citizens, employees, equals. Finally, we cannot forget, Anna Marie has a thing for languages....