There was a hum of anticipation and excitement in the room as winners of the Vancouver Poet Laureate’s City Poems Contest were announced at an afternoon ceremony today at the Vancouver Public Library!
Back in January, I invited members of the public to submit poems that related in a significant way to a historical, cultural or ecological site within the City of Vancouver or UBC Endowment Lands, and that could provide a greater understanding of its origins or multilayered history. 252 poems in total were submitted about a wide range of sites all over the city and endowment lands, including parks, schools, streets, historic neighbourhoods and buildings, and much more.
The Vancouver Public Library staff did an amazing job preparing for the event, displaying all the shortlisted poems, and setting up tables with books about Vancouver’s history as well as collections of Vancouver-based poems.
There was a full house too—a warm and receptive audience of teachers, family, friends and writers that listened attentively to the readings of the winning poems.
Established Category (for those who have previously published a book of poetry):
- First Place: Susan Alexander, “Seńákw” for Seńákw commonly known as Vanier Park
- Second Place: Leslie Timmins, “The Modest Contribution of Babies to the Protest at the Member of Parliament’s Office” for Khatsahlano Beach, commonly known as Kitsilano Beach
- Third Place: Kelsey Andrews, “To the Otter Who Snuck into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden and Ate the Koi” for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Emerging Poets Category:
- First Place: Jeremy Chu, “Entertainment” for The Marco Polo Restaurant: 90 East Pender Street
- Second Place: Theresa Rogers, “the stone artist” about Stanley Park Seawall
- Third Place: Donna Seto, “Contrasts” about Chinatown
Youth Category (high school or younger):
- First Place: Adrian Yue (Grade 9, Eric Hamber Secondary), “ending credits for an ending of chinatown” for Chinatown
- Second Place: Isabel Hernandez-Cheng (Grade 8, York House), “Lotus Flower” for Chinatown
- Third Place: Sharon Pan (Grade 7, Tecumseh Elementary School), “Home at Vie’s” for Hogan’s Alley in Strathcona
The three judges were former Vancouver Poet Laureate Rachel Rose (Established Poets Category), local poet and editor, David Ly (Emerging Poets Category), and educator and Word Vancouver Executive Director Dr. Bonnie Nish (Youth Category). First place winners received $300, second place winners $200, and third place winners $100. All winners and runners up also have the opportunity to have their poems turned into a poetry video in the second stage of the contest for student filmmakers.