Event on July 30 and 31

Location: St. Patrick’s Church at the North end of Shaw Street, Herbert, SK

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Chalk one up for small town Saskatchewan. The current poet laureate of the province, Gerald Hill, comes from Herbert, a town with less than 800 inhabitants that has launched more than its share of talent.

This summer Hill is returning to the place where he was born (and learned to play hockey) to read from his works during a two-day words and music event called Welcoming Home the Poet Laureate presented by the Steeplejack Festival, on July 30th and 31st.

Hill, who now resides in Regina, says he’s eager to reconnect with the town where he spent the first decade of his life.

Hill’s tenure as Saskatchewan Poet Laureate began on January 1st, 2016 and continues until Dec. 31st, 2017.  Recently retired from teaching English and Creative Writing at Luther College at the University of Regina, he has a solid body of work which includes six poetry collections as well as non-fiction works such as his A Round for Fifty Years: A History of Regina’s Globe Theatre and Their Names Live On, consisting of brief biographies of  Saskatchewan men killed in World War II.

His first book of poems, Heartwood, was published in 1985. It was followed by The Man from Saskatchewan and Getting to Know You, which won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Poetry in 2004. Other poetic works include My Human Comedy: Book 2 of The Man From Saskatchewan, Hillsdale Book (2015) and 14 Tractors, published in 2009.

Taking its cue from 14 Tractors, the first Steeplejack event on July 30th, at 8 p.m. will be tractor-themed.  It will feature Hill’s poetry and music by a band aptly named Massey 44 made up of local musicians Mark Penner, Donovan Epp, Colin Schindel and Mike Tetrault. Admission $10.

On Sunday July 31st at 4 p.m., after receiving an official welcome from the Mayor, Hill will explore the meaning of home. Music will be provided by accomplished local pianist Verna Martens and Herbert-raised, award-winning recording artist Casey Stone. Admission of $15 will include a reception after the performance.

Both events will take place at the former St. Patrick’s Church at the North end of Shaw Street in Herbert.

Seating for these events is limited, so reservations and early arrival are advised.

The weekend of July 30-31st is also the annual rodeo weekend in Herbert, with many events including an 11 a.m. parade on Saturday July 30th, with watermelon and roll kuchen served before and after at the M.C.C. store. The Herbert Stampede itself begins Friday at 6 p.m. and continues through Sunday afternoon.

The Steeplejack Festival has been presenting annual summer events in Herbert since 1997 in order to ensure the preservation of a Municipal Heritage Property and to promote artistic endeavour in Saskatchewan.

For more information on Gerald Hill check out his website (http://www.geraldhill.ca)