As It Happens

Unable to find work, Halifax's poet laureate to leave province

When El Jones's term as Halifax poet laureate finishes at the end of the summer, she's moving south of the border. Unable to find work in Nova Scotia, she has enrolled in the University of Iowa's prestigious writer-in-residence program.
Halifax's poet laureate El Jones has enrolled in the University of Iowa's prestigious writer-in-residence program. (Facebook/El Jones)

When El Jones's term as Halifax poet laureate finishes at the end of the summer, she's moving south of the border. Unable to find work in Nova Scotia, she has enrolled in the University of Iowa's prestigious writer-in-residence program.

"I love this community and I want to be working here," she tells As it Happens guest host Laura Lynch. "But, if there's no jobs … then what can I do."

On top of working as the poet laureate, Jones is a sessional professor at multiple universities. However, she has found it difficult to make a living.

"I have no savings," she says.

Jones says her story has struck a chord with many in Nova Scotia, as unemployment affects many in the province.

"The cost of living is expensive. The jobs don't pay well. It's very difficult to find opportunity here," she says.

"In a sense, it's sort of bothering me that it has become so personal. You know, 'El Jones is looking for opportunity, El Jones can't find work.' Because I think it's broader questions [about] creative industries in Nova Scotia where we saw the film tax cut, the austerity budget...and how many creative people have to leave the province."

Despite all of this, Jones is grateful that she was accepted to the writing program in Iowa (the same one recently featured in HBO's Girls).

"It's really quite wonderful that they have this program and they make it available to writers," she says.

The writer-in-residence program at University of Iowa runs until the end of this year. After that, Jones says she will try and find work again.

"I would move back in a second," she says. "I want to be here."

RAW: Poet laureate El Jones

9 years ago
Duration 9:23
El Jones is Halifax's newest poet laureate. She won the position with the poem she read today.

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