Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate

Selected by nomination, Victoria's Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate serve as literary and cultural ambassadors.

What it Means to be a Woman in the Arts
Panel Discussion and Conversation

Wednesday, November 15
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
CityStudio Victoria
742 Johnson Street

Youth Poet Laureate Maita Cienska is excited to host a round-table panel discussion on Wednesday, November 15 about what it means to be a women in the arts.

The event will be held at CityStudio Victoria and is open to anyone who identifies as a woman. The panel will include Maita Cienska, Nicole Malcolm and Lindsay Delaronde, and will be moderated by Pamela Stewart. Together they will explore the theme of how women express themselves through art, and the barriers they face in being able to express an authentic self. Following the guided discussion, the converation will open up to participants.

Although the event is free, registration is required as space is limited. Complimentary snacks and tea will be provided. 

Register here.

2018 Youth Poet Laureate to be Announced in January

The call for the 2018 Youth Poet Laureate is now closed. Thank you to all who participated in the nomination process. The new Youth Poet Laureate will be announced in January 2018. Learn more.

Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer Wins Overleaf Award!

Congrats to City of Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer for winning the Overleaf Award from Leaf Press!   

Overleaf is a chapbook manuscript competition which awards contracts to one Canadian and one international poet each year. Blomer is the Canadian winner and will have the opportunity to publish her manuscript “Elegies for Earth” as an artful chapbook.

Leaf Press publishes and promotes new Canadian poets and those in mid-career. Their mandate is to present poetry beautifully by maintaining high editorial and design standards and to support the poets by finding wider audiences. Learn more

Maita Cienska - Victoria's Youth Poet Laureate

Maita Cienska (pronounced My-ta Chen-ska) is Victoria's 2017 Youth Poet Laureate.

Her appointment was announced at the January 26, 2017 City Council meeting, where she read her poem New Year! Same God! View the Council meeting (at approximately 06:10).

Serving as a champion for youth and the literary arts, the Youth Poet Laureate seeks to inspire and engage local youth to share their stories and artistic voice through both the written and spoken word.

A 19-year old Vancouver Island poet, Maita Cienska has composed poems as a form of expression since middle school. For the past few years Cienska has been on a self-journey to explore her independence and immerse herself in creativity. During this time, she has released the album Fumble, won two Slams, tied for Slam Champion of 2015, served as a judge at Victorious Voices in 2016, and performed at a range of local events including (Poetry) Slam by the Sea and the Victoria Writer Society’s literary series Water Feature Night.

Cienska volunteers with Global Shapers Victoria, a city-based hub for young leaders and the Red Cross’ Beyond the Hurt bullying and harassment prevention program. She is in the midst of publishing her first book of poetry. 

As Youth Poet Laureate, Cienska's vision is to break poetry into new spaces with youth who may not have been exposed to this boisterous art form. She wants to be a part of a movement that reaches out to youth and increases understanding.

Poetry Readings by Maita Cienska

Role of Youth Poet Laureate
Mentored by Victoria’s Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer, the Youth Poet Laureate creates and presents new works to Victoria City Council and Youth Council, conducts poetry readings at City and Greater Victoria Public Library events, and organizes a community youth poetry event.

The Youth Poet Laureate is an honorary one-year term position. In addition to the year-long mentorship, the position receives a $1,750 honorarium and $1,000 of project funding. The Youth Poet Laureate position is funded by the City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Victoria's Poet Laureate - Yvonne Blomer

Yvonne Blomer is an established poet, having published three collections of poetry and co-edited Poems from Planet Earth, an anthology from the Planet Earth Poetry reading series. Her work has twice been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and she has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry in English as well as in anthologies and literary journals in Canada, the UK and Japan. Yvonne’s recent collection of poems is As if a Raven.

After graduating from the University of Victoria, Yvonne lived in Kyushu, Japan for two years with her husband and obtained her Masters in Poetry at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. In addition to poetry, Yvonne writes creative nonfiction and teaches poetry and memoir courses through Camosun College. She is currently working on a travel memoir titled Sugar Ride as well as new poems.

Email Yvonne Blomer

Poet Laureate's Book Launch
Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer is pleased to present her new book Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur, published by Palimpsest Press. The book is an account of the three months Blomer and her new husband biked almost 4,000 kilometres through Southeast Asia. Part love story, part travel adventure and part medical dance, Sugar Ride explores one woman's passion for cycling and the roads it pulls her along.

Role of Poet Laureate
Selected by nomination, the Poet Laureate serves as Victoria’s literary and cultural ambassador. During the four-year term, the Poet Laureate is required to produce three new original works each year that reflect or represent ideas and issues of importance to the people of Victoria, and recite poems at City events, Council meetings and the annual Victoria Book Prize Awards Gala. In addition, the Poet Laureate hosts a number of poetry events in the community, collaborates with the Greater Victoria Public Library on readings, workshops and its new Poet-in-Residence days, and serves as a mentor for the Youth Poet Laureate.

Yvonne Blomer is serving a four-year term from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2018. The position receives an honorarium of $3,500 per year as well as $1,000 for a poetry event and administration support from the City of Victoria, and $1,000 to support Greater Victoria Public Library programming activities.

Poetry Readings by Yvonne Blomer
Yvonne performed her first poetry reading in her role of Poet Laureate to open the City Council meeting on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 7 p.m. at City Hall: This salted table, our world [PDF - 104 KB] 

Additional poetry readings by Yvonne Blomer during her term include: