Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

December 06, 2006

Milestones for Guelph Grads

University of Guelph graduate and former sessional lecturer John Steffler has been named Canada’s new poet laureate. In addition, Guelph graduate Kristin Roe became the first Canadian to swim from Robben Island to Cape Town, South Africa this week, a feat that raised money for women infected with HIV/AIDS.

Steffler was selected poet laureate by the speakers of the House and the Senate from among three finalists on Monday. He becomes the third poet to hold the office since its inception four years ago.

Toronto-born writer now living in Montreal, Steffler earned a master’s degree in English from Guelph in 1974, taught creative writing and was a judge for a alumni writing competition. Until recently, he taught at Memorial University's Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.

Steffler describes himself as a poet, even though he won the 1993 Smith Books/Book in Canada First Novel Award for The Afterlife of George Cartwright, a fictionalized account of the life of 18th-Century English adventurer George Cartwright. The book also was shortlisted for the 1992 Governor General's Award for Fiction and won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.

His books of poems include That Night We Were Ravenous, The Wreckage of Play and The Grey Islands.

Steffler says he wants to use his new post to stimulate Canadians' interest in literature and will try to continue his predecessors' practice of maintaining a poem of the week on the poet laureate’s website.

Roe (BA ’03) completed the fund-raising swim in about three hours and the 12 degree Celsius water made it one of the coldest swims on record for its kind. An interview with Roe about her successful swim is featured on the CBC website.

Roe, who was selected to give U of G’s Last Lecture in 2003, is now living in Cape Town and working as a researcher on behalf of the Canadian International Agency and the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519 824- 4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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