2020 Youth Poet Laureate

Neko Smart

Congratulations to Neko Smart, Victoria's new Youth Poet Laureate! She is Victoria's eighth Youth Poet Laureate.

Neko Smart is a graduate of Victoria High School, and the founder and former captain turned coach of the Vic High Slam Poetry Team. Neko’s passion for performance was developed through her local theatre community. She realized the importance of self expression through the arts and the significance of embracing her quirky, if not neurotic and intense, character. She encourages vulnerability in writing as a way of healing through written word.

“Poetry is a means of creative expression that enables me to process the world through the lens of my anxiety disorder,” said Neko Smart, “As Youth Poet Laureate, my goal is to emphasize the importance of cultivating open dialogues about mental health in order to reduce stigma and increase safety, particularly in youth.”

We look forward to all that this talented poet has to share with the community.

Youth Poet Laureate Call for Nominations

The City of Victoria, in partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library, is seeking nominations for next year’s Youth Poet Laureate.

Created in 2013 by the Victoria Youth Council, the Youth Poet Laureate position provides the community access to strong youth voices. The Youth Poet Laureate will reach out to vulnerable youth populations, develop a community youth poetry event and encourage peer-to-peer education through new works.

Applicants must be 14 to 24 years of age and reside in the Capital Region. To apply, applicants must fill out an application form and include three original poems in written format (Word/PDF). Applicants are encouraged to provide links in the application to any audio or video recordings of themselves reading the poems they are submitting for consideration.

Download the Youth Poet Laureate Nomination Package here


November 4, 2020. Applications are now closed.  

Youth Verses 

Youth Verses was a series of three FREE workshops on Zoom for youth (ages 14-19) who identify as visual and performance artists. Twelve youth were selected to take part in the workshop series, where they got the opportunity to take part in conversations about harnessing creativity while navigating mental illness. Facilitated by Neko Smart, these workshops took place in a collaborative and safe space, where teenagers felt supported and inspired to create their art without judgement. At the end of the series, participants got the chance to publicly display the art they've created in a virtual showcase.

Youth Verses Virtual Showcase: Friday, June 19 from 7 - 9 p.m.

The virtual showcase featured poetry performances from the guest facilitators, Marie Metaphor, Dana Neily, Aziz Moqia Sealey-Qaylow, as well as the ambitious youth, and an array of visual and performance art.

Poetry Reading

In previous years our Youth Poet Laureate is able to invite fellow poets to read at Council Meetings. Neko Smart has instead pulled together a talented group of youth poets to create this poetry video.

Role of Youth Poet Laureate

Over the one-year term, the Youth Poet Laureate will create three new works of poetry, present at bi-monthly City Council meetings, serve as a judge on the panel for the Greater Victoria Public Library Teen Writing Contest, host an event or project that will engage youth, and collaborate with the Greater Victoria Public Library on a poetry workshop for teens. 

The Youth Poet Laureate is an honorary one-year term position from January 1 to December 31, 2020. The position receives a $1,750 honorarium and $2,000 of project funding in addition to the one-year mentorship with the Poet Laureate and administrative support from the City of Victoria. 

For More Information