City Poems Contest

What historical, cultural or ecological sites in Vancouver intrigue, fascinate, or move you? Perhaps it is the ancient Musqueam village and burial site at c̓əsnaʔəm, the Indigenous village of Sen̓áḵw, a specific building in a historic neighbourhood such as Chinatown or Hogan’s Alley, Deadman’s Island in False Creek, Hastings Park where Japanese Canadians were interned during WW II, Burrard inlet where the steamship Komagata Maru lay at anchor for 3 months in 1914, or one of Vancouver’s parks, hidden streams or remaining old growth trees? Here’s your chance to write a poem that will provide a greater understanding of the origins and multilayered history of the place we now know as Vancouver!


There are three categories for entering the contest:

  • Youth (grade 12 or under)
  • Emerging poets (adults who have not published a book)
  • Established poets (adults who have already published one or more books)


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

Winners will be notified and announced in June 2022.
Vancouver Writers Fest will also publish winning entries in their newsletter circulated to 14,000 readers.  


  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 The poem must be original, unpublished and not submitted for publication elsewhere during the course of the contest.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.)
  3. Word limit: up to 400 words per poem (less is fine). Spoken word or visual poetry: 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 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.
  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.

Submission Form:

ONLINE: Complete the online submission form where you can upload a file with your poem.  File formats accepted: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .jpg, jpeg, .mp3, .mp4, .m4a.  


PRINT: Print and complete this submission form. You can then either:

Take a photo or scan the form and email it to with your poem attached.  File formats accepted: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .jpg, jpeg, .mp3, .mp4, .m4a.  


Mail a hard copy of the form and a copy of your poem (as your documents will not be returned) to:

City Poems Contest
PO Box 74552 Kitsilano Post Office
Vancouver, BC V5K 2G0


Bonnie Nish 
(Photo credit: Danny Zavarise)

Bonnie Nish is Executive Director of Word Vancouver and Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society. She has a Masters in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University and a PhD in Language and Literacy Education from the University of British Columbia where she teaches. Bonnie’s first book of poetry, Love and Bones, was released by Karma Press in 2013. Her next book, Concussion and Mild TBI: Not Just Another Headline, was published by Lash and Associates in 2016. Her latest book, Cantata in Two Voices, co-written with Jude Neal was released by Ekstasis Editions. She lives in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. 

David Ly
(Photo credit: Erin Flegg)

David Ly is the author of Mythical Man (shortlisted for the 2021 ReLit Poetry Award) and Dream of Me as Water, both published under the Anstruther Books imprint at Palimpsest Press. He co-edited Queer Little Nightmares: an Anthology of Monstrous Fiction and Poetry (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2022) with Daniel Zomparelli. David’s poems have appeared in various publications such as PRISM international, The Puritan, Arc Poetry Magazine, and Best Canadian Poetry 2021. David currently lives on unceded Coast Salish territory (Vancouver, B.C.).

Rachel Rose
(Photo credit: Ayelet Tsabari)

Rachel Rose’s fiction debut, The Octopus Has Three Hearts, was published by Douglas & McIntyre in 2021, and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She is the author of four collections of poetry, including Marry & Burn, which received a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for a Governor General’s Award. Her memoir, The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World’s K9 Cops, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arthur Ellis award for best non-fiction crime book. A former fellow at The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, she was Poet Laureate of Vancouver from 2014-2017.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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

Can you suggest some resources on Vancouver history and some examples of Vancouver-based poems? 
Can I submit my poem simultaneously to other places for publication while submitting to the contest?
  • This means that an entry must not be under consideration 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.
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? 
  • The contest winners will be contacted directly (by either email or telephone) in June. Other entrants will not be individually contacted about the results. Authors’ names and the titles of the works that make a shortlist of 10-15 will appear on this website in June 2022. The winners will be announced on this website and through the Vancouver Writers’ Festival website later in June 2022.
Will the winning poems be published?  
  • The winning poems will be published in the Vancouver Writers’ Festival newsletter.
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.