Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate

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

Stories of Celebration

Youth Poet Laureate Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow invites you to attend Stories of Celebration, an evening of poetry and short stories from youth newcomers, immigrants and people of colour. The free event will be held on Friday, December 6, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. at KWENCH, 2031 Store Street.
Stories of Celebration will feature readings by local writers Agartu Ali, Asiyah Robinson and Youth Poet Laureate Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow. Join us and follow the telling of their journeys through life, and explore themes of joy, relief and success. 

Featured Local Authors

Agartu Ali was in Grade 11 at Victoria High School when she was appointed as Victoria's 2018 Youth Poet Laureate. For as long as she could remember, poetry had moved her emotionally and motivated her to be an advocate for change in her community, where she uses poetry as a vehicle to connect with other people. During her term she performed at the Integrate Arts Festival, Earth Day, various poetry month events, helped lead a virtual reality workshop for teens, and organized a sold-out poetry event called "Poems of Colour," highlighting local poets and artists of colour in partnership with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Asiyah Robinson was born and raised on Grand Bahama Island, and traveled to Canada after high school to pursue her post-secondary education. She is now in her final year of a Bachelor of Science at the University of Victoria. In addition to her studies, she is passionate about improving equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and within the community.

For more information, please email culture@victoria.ca.

 Local Indigenous Perspectives

 Local Indigenous Perspectives featured the literary work of Indigenous writers from Greater Victoria. John Barton hosted readings from authors Danielle Geller, Kim Senklip Harvey, Philip Kevin Paul, and Troy Sebastian.

Featured Indigenous Authors

 Danielle Geller is a writer, an archivist, and a weaver. Before  joining the Department of Writing, at the University of Victoria, she taught at the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Young Arizona Writers’ Workshop, and was a visiting writer to the Institute of American Indian Arts. A member of the Navajo Nation and a writer of personal essays and memoir, Danielle has published her work in The New Yorker, Brevity, and Arizona Highways Magazine. Her debut memoir, Dog Flowers, is forthcoming from One World/Random House in 2020. 

Kim Senklip Harvey is a proud Syilx, Tshilqot’in, Ktunaxa and Dakelh Nations woman and is a Fire Creator (director/playwright/actor/community member). In 2017, Kim participated in the Writing in a Racialized Canada residency at the Banff Centre. And recently completed a two-year residency with the National Theatre. In 2018, Kim had a three-city world premiere of her play Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story. It won the 2019 Jessie Richardson Award for Significant Artistic Achievement for Decolonizing Theatre Practices and Spaces and was the first Indigenous play in the awards history to win Best Production. It also was the 2019 recipient of the Sydney J. Risk Prize. Kamloopa will be published by Talonbooks this fall.

Philip Kevin Paul is a member of the WSÁ,NEC Nation from the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. His work has been published in BC Studies, Literary Review of Canada, Breathing Fire: Canada’s New Poets and An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English. Philip Kevin Paul’s second book of poetry, Little Hunger, was shortlisted for a 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award. His first book of poetry, Taking the Names Down from the Hill, won the 2004 Dorothy Livesay Award for Poetry.

Troy Sebastian is a Ktunaxa writer from the community of ʔaq̓am. His writing has been in the Ktuqckakyam, The Malahat Review, New Quarterly, The Walrus, Quill and Quire. Troy is a recipient of the 2017 Hnatyshyn REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award and graduate of the Indigenous Writers Program at The Banff Centre. 

For more information, please email culture@victoria.ca.


Wilde About Sappho
A Pride Reading by Local Queer Writers

Thanks to all who celebrated Pride Week by joining City of Victoria Poet Laureate John Barton for Wilde About Sappho, A Pride Reading by Local Queer Writers on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Victoria City Hall.

Wilde About Sappho was a celebration of poetry, fiction and spoken word by LGBTQI2S writers from Greater Victoria. John Barton will be joined by Mayor Lisa Helps and guest poets Brian Day, Anne Fleming, Darrel J. McLeod, Arleen Paré, Byron Sollazzo, and Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow. Each will perform a reading of poetry to mark the 50th anniversary of Canada’s decriminalization of same-sex relationships. 


"The Green Muse" Celebrated Poetry Month

Thank you to all those who came out to The Green Muse to celebrate National Poetry Month in April. This free evening of poetry focused on society’s relationship with nature.

Barton hosted a reading by local poets Sonnet L’Abbé, Philip Kevin Paul, and former Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer. The poetry highlighted humanity’s complicated relationship with the environment, nature’s enduring resilience yet precarious future, and its role as a constant source of inspiration.

Meet Victoria's Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate!

John Barton - Victoria's Poet Laureate (2019 - 2022)

John Barton is an established poet and editor. He has written and published 26 books, chapbooks and anologies. He is a three-time recipient of the Archibald Lampman Award, and has won an Ottawa Book Award, a CBC Literary Award, and a National Magazine Award. John is currently working on his first book of prose, We Are Not Avatars: Essays, Memoirs, Manifestos while working as a freelance editor, writer and mentor. John was formally appointed to the position of the City's Poet Laureate on January 10, 2019 by Council, and will serve a four-year term. He is the City's fifth Poet Laureate.  Learn more.  (Photo credit John Preston)

Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow - Victoria's 2019 Youth Poet Laureate

Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow is a slam and spoken word poet, and an honours graduate from Reynolds Secondary School. She was formally appointed to her one-year term as Youth Poet Laureate on January 10, 2019 by Council. Aziza  is Victoria's seventh Youth Poet Laureate. Learn more.