Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate

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

April is National Poetry Month!

Poetry will come to life in Victoria during National Poetry Month in April with events that celebrate the creative and renewal properties of books, time and spring. National Poetry Month is taking shape in Victoria in many ways and with a variety of events. Learn more.

Meet Maita Cienska - Victoria's New Youth Poet Laureate

Congratulations to Maita Cienska (pronounced My-ta Chen-ska) -- 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.

 A “Call for Nominations” open to Capital Region poets 14 – 24 years of age was held in fall 2016. Applicants were required to have an established body of work (written or spoken word) and to have been recognized for notable contributions in their career. Submissions were evaluated by a peer committee comprised of representatives of the literary and poetry community. The Greater Victoria Public Library coordinated the selection process. 

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

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: