Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate
Selected by nomination, Victoria's Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate serve as literary and cultural ambassadors.
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
- New Year! Same God! [PDF - 101 KB]
- Itchy [PDF - 122 KB]
- Middle Ground [PDF - 101 KB]
- Second Hand store [PDF - 105 KB]
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.
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:
- Yvonne [PDF - 45 KB]
- Haiku by Christopher Greengoe, Grade 3 Poet, Braefoot Elementary [PDF - 30 KB]
- Haiku by Lily Williams, Grade 3 Poet, BraefootElementary [PDF - 29 KB]
- Looking at a photograph of you [PDF - 104 KB].
- Water and Weeds [PDF - 175 KB] - 2015 Canada Day
- Someone is writing [PDF - 161 KB] - 2015 Victoria Book Prize Gala
- Red Dress [PDF - 188 KB]
- Conduit [PDF - 94 KB]
- Looking out/looking in [PDF - 96 KB]
- Toward Solstice [PDF - 176 KB]
- Tent [PDF - 97 KB]
- Wolf Management [PDF - 111 KB]
- Suspect [PDF - 183 KB]
- Pollinators [PDF - 98 KB]
- Conception: acorn, zygote, history [PDF - 111 KB]
- Fog, Gray's Harbour [PDF - 108 KB]
- Someone, listening [PDF - 109 KB]
- The Author's Unflinching Gaze [PDF - 114 KB] - 2016 Victoria Book Prize Awards
- I confess we ate chocolate [PDF - 120 KB]
- Dinner Party [PDF - 101 KB]
- And so they rise [PDF - 107 KB]
- Blue Bridge Blues [PDF - 198 KB]
- Dear Victoria for poet gone north [PDF - 98 KB]
- In the Ministry of Writers under the glare of spotlight [PDF - 116 KB]
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