Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate

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

Wilde About Sappho
A Pride Reading by Local Queer Writers

Celebrate 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 is 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.

Take the opportunity to revel in readings, rainbow flags, refreshments and glitter.


Register for this FREE event here.

Wilde About Sappho is sponsored by the City of Victoria, the Victoria Arts Foundation, and Plenitude Magazine. 

Featured Poets

Brian Day
Brian is the author of four books of poetry, including Conjuring Jesus and The Daring of Paradise. His work has been praised for its “luxurious sensuality” and “sustained spiritual attention.” It has been described as being “fine devotional reading, erotic reading, literary reading, all wrapped into one.” Brian Day lives on Salt Spring Island.

Anne Fleming
Anne grew up in Southern Ontario idolizing the directors at her YWCA summer camp, two self-sufficient lesbians who raised goats and chickens and built their own kayaks. Later, she started writing and by now has published five books of fiction and poetry including Gay Dwarves of Americapoemw, and The Goat, a novel for children. Her writing has been shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award, the Journey Prize, the Danuta Gleed Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. The Goat was named one of the 10 best children’s books of the year by The Wall Street Journal and the New York Public Library. She splits her time between Victoria and Kelowna, where she teaches Creative Writing at UBC’s Okanagan Campus.

Darrel J. McLeod
Darrel is Cree from treaty eight territory in Northern Alberta. Before pursuing writing in his retirement, Darrel was a chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French Literature and Education from UBC. Darrel is working on a second memoir, Peyakow (to be published in 2020 by Douglas & McIntyre), following the events in Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (2018, Douglas & McIntyre), which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and was nominated for the RBC Taylor Prize, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness, and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award. Darrel lives, writes, sings and plays jazz guitar in Sooke, B.C. and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Arleen Paré
Arleen is a Victoria writer. She has five collections of poetry, two of which are cross-genre.  She has been short-listed for the BC Dorothy Livesay BC Award for Poetry and has won a Golden Crown Award for Lesbian Poetry, the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize, a CBC Bookie Award, and a Governor Generals’ Award for Poetry for Lake of Two Mountains. Her next poetry collection, Earle Street, will be released by Talonbooks in early 2020.

Byron Sollazzo
Byron is an alumnus of the Reynolds High School Slam Poetry team, where he worked and created with his co-poets for four years, competing in slam competitions both on the island and the mainland. After graduating from high school in 2018, Byron took a little break from writing to focus on university, but always kept a foot in the door of poetry. He is very much looking forward to being involved in the upcoming showcase and is excited to perform for the first time since high school as well as take in his fellow creators’ pieces.

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

"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.