Hamilton’s first Poet in Place, Lishai Peel, appointed


Published January 19, 2024 at 11:16 am

Hamilton has appointed renowned local writer Lishai Peel as its first Poet in Place whose job will be to “perform original works, enhance public spaces through poetry projects and deliver workshops.”

The city opened applications for writers to become the community’s official poet back in the fall. “It’s no secret that Hamilton has a rich and diverse arts scene. Poet in Place is a made-in-Hamilton program that elevates local talent and makes the poetic arts accessible to more people, inspiring us to reimagine our collective identity and give voice to our stories,” Mayor Andrea Horwath said at the time.

Peel was appointed to a two-year engagement as the Poet in Place the following January. She has been an active writer and educator for more than a decade, working with as a freelancer for various institutions and youth organizations. Peel has spent most of her career in Toronto, specifically at the Toronto Library and Public School Board. However, she is based in Hamilton.

Her acclaimed writing has won several awards including  The Malahat Review’s 2019 open season awards and Vancouver Writers Fest Annual Contest in 2017. She performed as a spoken word artist in more than 300 venues across Canada including broadcast performances on Bell Media and MTV. Along with artist David Brame, she created the graphic novel, Why Birds and Wolves Don’t Trade and has released an album with musician Waleed Abdulhamid, From Here On.

“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,” the city wrote.

Peel will receive a $20,000 honorarium over her two-year term.