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!

National Poetry Month was established in Canada in 1999 by the League of Canadian Poets in order to bring together schools, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and poets from across the country. Normally, the League suggests a theme for each year, but as 2018 is the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month in Canada, The League of Canadian Poets is taking a back seat and letting local events choose meaningful themes for themselves. 

The City of Victoria's National Poetry Month events will focus on environmental themes in addition to celebrating Vancouver Island poets. All events are free and open to the general public. View the poster. [PDF - 487 KB]

#YYJPoetry Book Spine Poems
National Poetry Month
Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer and Youth Poet Laureate Agartu Ali invite you to get creative and reacquainted with your book collections during April. Create an environmentally-themed ‘Book Spine Poem’ by stacking three book spines, and share a photo of your poem by tweeting @CityofVictoria with the hashtag #yyjpoetry. Family-appropriate book spine poems will be retweeted and posted online at victoria.ca/poetlaureate.

Poets Laureate Night
Friday, April 6, 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. at City Hall
Join us for Poets Laureate Night, an evening of poetry readings by Vancouver Island Poets Laureate. Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer will be accompanied by former Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke, the City’s new Youth Poet Laureate Agartu Ali, City of Nanaimo Poet Laureate Tina Biello, and Comox Valley Poet Laureate Natalie Nickerson. Complimentary refreshments will be served. The event is a partnership between the City of Victoria and Planet Earth Poetry, with support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets.

Visions: Poetic Inspirations Panel, Starfields Festival
Saturday, April 14, 10:30 am - noon at the Metro Theatre, 1411 Quadra Street
During the Starfields Festival’s three-day cultural extravaganza, participate in Visions: Poetic Inspirations, a free panel
discussion featuring Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer who will read poems with the theme of “visions” with Barbara Pelman, Dan MacIsaac, Philip Kevin Paul and musician Cara Luft.

Poems for the Planet
Sunday, April 22, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. at Centennial Square
Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 with free poetry readings from Yvonne Blomer and guest poets who will express their climate change concerns and passion through poetry for Southern Vancouver Island and the Pacific Ocean. Featured poets will include Marilyn Bowering, Stephen Collis, Marlene Grand Maitre, Heidi Greco, Anne Hopkinson, Tim Lilburn, Garth Martens, Wendy Morton, Kyeren Regher, Chris Smart, and Christine Walde. Dancers Nikko Snow and Dyana Sonik-Henderson will perform in response to Bruce Cockburn’s “False River,” a poem commissioned by Yvonne Blomer. The event is hosted by the City of Victoria with support frm the League of Canadian Poets.

Annual Mayors' Poetry Challenge
Thursdays, April 12 and 26, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall
The City of Victoria will once again participate in the Annual Mayors’ Poetry Challenge, which invites municipalities across Canada to bring poetry into politics. City Council meetings in April will feature original poems read by Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer, Youth Poet Laureate Agartu Ali and special guests John Barton, poet and past editor of the The Malahat Review, and local youth slam poet Neko Smart.

For more information, please email culture@victoria.ca

Agartu Ali is Victoria's 2018 Youth Poet Laureate!

We're pleased to introduce Agartu Ali as Victoria's 2018 Youth Poet Laureate. Her appointment was officially announced at the January 25, 2018 Council meeting, where she read her poem "Statistics". Agartu Ali is Victoria's 6th Youth Poet Laureate.

Agartu Ali is a 15-year-old spoken word poet who is a Grade 10 student at Victoria High School.  For as long as she can remember, poetry has moved her emotionally and motivated her to be an advocate for change in her community. Ali volunteers at numerous local elementary schools and community organizations and often uses poetry as a vehicle to connect with her community.

While she is not yet a well-known face in the larger poetry scene, Ali believes this anonymity gives her  an approachability that she plans to utilize in this position. She hopes youth will see themselves in her and that she can learn alongside them.

“My vision is to bring the many different cultures and people of Victoria together,” said Ali. “With my roots in the refugee and immigrant sector, and my love of the written and spoken word, I believe I harbour the dedication and resources needed to make this vision a reality. I hope to provide an outlet for youth to express themselves by writing what is beautiful, what is painful and what is real.”

Watch Agartu Ali's poety reading at City Council on January 25, 2018.

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 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

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: