City Poems Contest

Thank you to everyone who submitted to the City Poems Contest! I want to commend each and every person who took the time and made the effort to write and send in a site-based poem!

Google Map indicating the locations for the eligible poems submitted to the City Poems Contest. Blue pins for Youth category; red pins for Emerging Poets category; yellow pins for Established Poets category. Click on the coloured pins for details of each site.

There were so many wonderful poems with over 250 submitted in total. The poems were prescreened to ensure they were under 400 words and related to a historical, cultural and/or ecological site within what is now known as Vancouver and the UBC Endowment lands. The three judges, Rachel Rose (judge for the established poets category), David Ly (judge for the emerging poets category), and Dr. Bonnie Nish (judge for the youth category) selected the shortlist according to these criteria:

  • poems that showed evidence of care, craft, and skill with language, metaphor, and imagery 
  • poems that somehow deepened, broadened or enriched our understanding of the origins and/or multifaceted history of Vancouver, and made the site more than merely a backdrop or setting
  • the “je ne sais quoi” that made the poem lift off the page (e.g. poems that were engaging in terms of voice, narrative, character, style, approach, originality, freshness of point of view or approach )

Please note that even if your poem was not shortlisted, this is not the end of the story. There may be the possibility of participating in a site-specific public reading, to record your poem for public access on the wonderful location-based PhoneMe app (more details to come on my blog), and of course to submit your poem to literary magazines and other contests. Just because your poem was not shortlisted doesn’t mean your poem wasn’t interesting, engaging, or well-written.

Shortlist & Winners

Click here to see the names of the shortlisted authors and the winners along with their poems. If you would like to watch and listen to recorded readings of these poems, visit the VPL Vancouver Poet Laureate City Poems Contest YouTube playlist, where you will see a list of video-recordings or audio-recordings by many of the poets.

Coming Soon

  • The second stage of the City Poems Contest will be announced this fall/winter. It will be a poetry video contest for student filmmakers based on any one of the shortlisted poems.

About the City Poems Contest

After holding an online launch and reading featuring wonderful local poets Joanne Arnott, Junie Desil, Kevin Spenst, Evelyn Lau, and Alex Leslie through the Vancouver Public Library, I held some public events to help generate site-based poems for the City Poems Contest. There was a live workshop held at Vancouver’s historic Mountain View Cemetery with Pandora’s Writing Collective. The Vancouver Public Library hosted an online Crafting Poems about Place workshop. Heritage Vancouver also hosted an online place-based poem workshop. Although this stage of the contest is now officially over, a recording of the online VPL workshop, Crafting Poems About Place can be found on the VPL’s YouTube channel if you are still interested in exploring the writing of place-based poems on your own.

Learn more about the parameters of the City Poem Contest which ran from Jan 16 – Jun 15, 2022.