George Elliott Clarke, O.C., O.N.S.
Doctor of Letters
George Elliott Clarke will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree. He is a Nova Scotian poet, playwright, novelist, columnist, and a professor of English literature.
A native of Windsor Plains, Nova Scotia, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo, a Master of Arts degree from Dalhousie University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Queens University. Following graduation, he worked as a professor of English and Canadian Studies at Duke University, and was later named the E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. He is also a long-time columnist for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.
But the true measure of his career is found in his work as a poet, playwright and novelist.
He has received several writing awards including the Governor General?s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Archibald Lampman Award, the Commonwealth Writer?s Prize (short listed), and the first Portia White Prize, the most prestigious prize for artistic achievement in Nova Scotia. He has also been awarded the Order of Canada (Officer), Order of Nova Scotia, a Bellagio Centre Fellowship, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. And from 2005 until 2008, he was the holder of The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize.
He is the author of works such as Whylah Falls and Execution Poems: The Black Acadian Tragedy of ?George and Rue? and the novel George & Rue (2005), which won the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction in 2006. He also contributed poetry to periodicals including Descant, New Quarterly and Atlantic, and has edited publications such as Fire on the Water: An anthology of Black Nova Scotia Writing, and Eyeing the North Star: Directions in African-Canadian Literature.
This honorary degree recognizes him as a successful Nova Scotia in academia and a role model for Black Nova Scotians. His work encourages respect and understanding of cultural diversity and thereby exemplifies Saint Mary's University?s ongoing support for a just and civil society.