City Poems Contest

Thank you to everyone who submitted to the City Poems Contest! So many wonderful poems! 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) have completed their judging. The finalists have been notified by email. The poems were judged on an anonymous basis and 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 judges 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 )


Patricia Chen, “Lost in Chinatown”

Katie Evans, “Revival”

Isabel Hernandes-Cheng, “Lotus Flower”

Debbie Li, “Lightless Fireflies”

Ya Xin Lu, “BBQ Meat Shops”

Nazifa Nawal, “Khupkhahpay’ay*: A Found Poem”

Sharon Pan, “Home at Vie’s”  

Crystal Peng, “In Google Maps, I explore Chinatown for the First Time”

Alice Stanciu, “The Town Where Time Stops”

Adrian Yue, “ending credits for an ending of chinatown”


Christina Barber, “Victory Square Lament” 

Sandra Bruneau, “Alma”

Harper Campbell, “Near Commercial”

Jeremy Chu, “Entertainment”

James Kim, “An Existence That We Can Call Home”

Vivian (Xiao Wen) Li, “The Garden, Echoes I”

Vivian (Xiao Wen) Li, “The Garden, Echoes II”

Angela May, “single mother on hastings”

Theresa Rogers, “the stone artist”

Donna Seto, “Contrasts”


Susan Alexander, “Seńákw”

Kelsey Andrews, “To the Otter Who Snuck into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden and Ate the Koi”

Julie Emerson, “Stanley Park Fir”

Evelyn Lau, “Atmospheric River”

Barbara Pelman, “Congregation Beth Israel”

Leslie Timmins, “The Modest Contribution of Babies to the Protest at the Member of Parliament’s Office”

Diane Tucker, “Fat Vancouver Snow”

*Please note that authors of poems that are not shortlisted will not be contacted directly by email.

The winners will be announced on Saturday, June 11th at a live ceremony at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 2:30-4 PM at the Alice MacKay Room (downstairs). Winners will also be announced on this website, the the City Poems Facebook page, and the Vancouver Writers’ Festival newsletter


There were three categories for entering the contest:

  • Youth (grade 12 or under)
  • Emerging poets (adults who have not published or self-published a full-length book of poetry)
  • Established poets (adults who have already published or self-published one full-length book of poetry or more, or have a contract for one)


  • First Prize for each category: $300
  • Second Prize for each category: $200
  • Third Prize for each category: $100

Shortlist for each category announcement: late May (City Poems Facebook Page, Vancouver Writers Festival newsletter, and this website). NOTE: Only the writers of the shortlisted poems will be contacted directly.

Winners will be announced June 11, 2022 at an event at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch (2:30-4 PM at the Alice MacKay Room downstairs).


  1. The poem must be original, unpublished and not submitted for publication elsewhere during the course of the contest.
  2. Poems MUST relate in a significant way to a historical, cultural or ecological site within the area presently known as the City of Vancouver or the UBC Endowment Lands and try to provide a greater understanding of the origins or multilayered history of the place we now know as Vancouver. (Poems about sites outside this area unfortunately will not be eligible, e.g. not about sites in North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Abbotsford.)
  3. Word limit: up to 400 words per poem (less is fine). Spoken word or visual poems: up to 3 minutes.
  4. Limit of two poems maximum per poet. (Separate submission form required for each poem.)
  5. Poems must be typed, 12 point font in Times New Roman or similar font. Please do not put your name, email or other identifying information in the poem file or in the filename. It must remain anonymous for judging purposes. Each submission will be assigned a number for reference.
  6. For spoken word or visual poems, a print version as above, plus a recording (in mp3, .mp4 or .m4a) must be submitted.
  7. Submissions will only be received between January 16 – April 15, 2022 11:59 pm PST. (Postmarked on or before April 15th is acceptable if mailed.)
  8. No revisions or changes or substitutions may be made to an entry once you have submitted it. So please carefully check your entry before you enter it into the contest.

How to Submit to the Contest

The submission period is now closed. Details about the poetry video contest based on on this year’s award-winning poems will be announced later this fall, and formally launched in January 2023.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the questions to see the responses.  
If you do not see your question below, please send an email to with your enquiry.

Can you suggest some resources on Vancouver history and some examples of Vancouver-based poems? 
Can I write about a site in North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, Abbotsford, or any part of what is considered Metro Vancouver?
  • The contest is confined to sites within the City of Vancouver (which is a muncipality governed by the Vancouver City Council) and the UBC Endowment Lands.  If your poem includes a site within the boundaries of the City of Vancouver and UBC Endowment lands, your poem is eligible. If your poem is solely related to a site outside of those boundaries, it is not eligible unfortunately.   
Can I submit my poem simultaneously to other places for publication while submitting to the contest?
  • An entry must not be submitted elsewhere for publication, nor accepted elsewhere for publication, nor entered in any other contest.
Is it okay if my poem has been published on my website or online in a blog or on social media?
  • Work that has appeared on the internet (e.g., on a website, YouTube, online magazines, blogs, or social media sites,etc.) is considered published for the purposes of this contest and is ineligible.
My poem was written long ago, but hasn’t been published. Can I still submit it?
  • Yes, so long as it has not been published.
Are chapbooks (15-30 pages) considered full-length books for the purpose of the “Established Poets” category?
  • Those who have published chapbooks (15-30 pages) are considered “Emerging Poets” unless they have published a full-length book or have a book contract for a full-length book.
Can I use a pen name or pseudonym?
  • Contest entries should be submitted under the author’s real name and real address. If you use a pseudonym for your published works, you will have a chance to inform the editor of this should your work be selected by the judges.
Can I revise or change my submission if I find a typo or want to improve it? 
  • No revisions or changes may be made to an entry once you have submitted it. So please carefully check your entry before you enter it into the contest.
Can I fax my submission? 
  • No faxed submissions allowed. Please submit online via the online submission form, by email or by mail.
Will the poem that I submitted to the contest be sent back to me?
  • Poems cannot be returned. If mailing in your poem, please keep your original version and only mail in a copy.
When and how will I find out if I have won? 
  • Only the authors of shortlisted poems will be contacted by either email or telephone in late May. Winning poems will be announced at a ceremony on June 11 at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch.  Authors’ names and the titles of the works that make a shortlist will appear on this website in late May. The winners will be announced on this website and through the Vancouver Writers’ Festival website on June 12, 2022, as well as the City Poems Facebook Page. 
Will the winning poems be published?  
  • Notification of the winning poems will be published in the Vancouver Writers’ Festival newsletter. Recordings of the poems may be posted on the Vancouver Public Library’s Poet Laureate webpage.
What happens if I violate the rules?   
  • An entry will be disqualified (no matter at what stage in the contest process it is at), if it is discovered that an entry has violated the contest rule on simultaneous submissions, prior publication, or original authorship.