City Poems Poetry Video Contest

Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners of the Vancouver Poet Laureate’s City Poems Contest at an Awards Ceremony at the Museum of Vancouver on June 11, 2023 from 1-3 pm. The top 3 poetry videos as judged by Contest Judge Heather Haley, along with the poetry videos that have won prizes for Best Animation, Best Visual Storytelling and Best Documentary-Style Poetry Video, and those receiving an Honourable Mention will be announced and screened. Preregister to attend the free public Award ceremony and Screening here.

Audience Choice prizes will also be announced and screened at this ceremony. There will be one Audience Choice Prize per participating university.

Although the voting period for online Audience Choice voting ended at 5 pm May 25th, you can still watch the poetry videos submitted to the contest by clicking on the specific entry numbers for each poetry video on the table below OR by watching all the videos on the VPL’s YouTube Playlist for the Contest.

All the poetry videos were based on local poems about historical, cultural and ecological sites within Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Poet Laureate’s two-stage Legacy Project, and were made by local public post-secondary students enrolled in these first year to fourth year courses:

🟢   Emily Carr University of Art + Design (classes: 2DN 211 (2D Animation) & Foundation 160 (Core Media Studio))
🔴   Simon Fraser University (class: IAT 344 (Moving Images))
🔵   University of British Columbia (class: FNIS 454 (Indigenous New Media) plus an independent student team)

Table of Poems and Poetry Videos


click entry # to watch a video

by Sandra Bruneau

Text of Poem

Location: Alma Street

Vancouverites, known to demonstrate publicly for various causes, reach out to Ukrainians fighting for their homeland and culture. Alma Street here and the Alma River in Crimea are placenames we share, signifying our common bonds and shared hopes for peace and justice.
🟢 Entry #1032
An Existence That We Can Call Home
by James Kim

Text of Poem 

Location: The First Narrows, by what is now known as Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge

This poem is about the gentrification and power imbalances that come about in trying to erase history, and our duty to make sure it’s remembered. (First Nations villages as well as Chinese, Portuguese, Hawaiian and mixed-race communities were forcibly displaced by authorities to make way for what we now know as Stanley Park. (Please read the footnotes to the poem for the history.)
🔴 Entry #1036

by Donna Seto

Text of Poem  

Location: Chinatown

A 100 year-old Chinese elder witnesses the changes and gentrification of Chinatown.
🔴 Entry #1008

🔴 Entry #1010

🟢 Entry #1027

by Jeremy Chu

Text of Poem  

Location: The former Marco Polo Restaurant, 90 East Pender St. 

The poem in its barest is about the historical presence of The Marco Polo (former famous nightclub in Chinatown), and its importance as a space-of-relation between communities, namely communities of colour.
🔴 Entry #1005 (called Diaspora)

🔴 Entry #1016

🟢Entry #1031

The Garden, Echoes I
by Vivian (Xiao Wen) Li

Text of Poem
Location: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

“The Garden, Echoes” explores the lingering echoes of gardens for a young women recovering from grief and in a search for home.
Not available after May 25 due to submission to other festivals

Know Who You Are, and Know Where You Come From
by Debra Sparrow

Text of Poem 

Location: local Musqueam village sites

Musqueam weaverDebra Sparrow remembers how her grandfather would tell her and her children about Musqueam village sites and history.
🔵  Entry #1024

🔵  Entry #1028

🔵 Entry #1033

Near Commercial
by Harper Campbell

Text of Poem 

Location: Commercial Drive

This poem is about the poet’s memories of growing up near Commercial drive in the 1990s. It shows certain places and the poet’s memories about them.
🔴 Entry #1007

🟢 Entry #1034

Postcard Home from English Bay
by Alex Leslie
from their book, Vancouver for Beginners (Book*hug Press, 2019)   

Text of Poem  
Location: English Bay

“I wanted to create a full tableau, including many characters who occupy a vision of oceanfront busy Vancouver, from the seagulls to the politicians to the street artists…. It’s a twisted advertisement, or a dark stream-of-consciousness account someone on a drug trip might write on a postcard… it captures something of the overblown paradise vibes Vancouver is pinned with.”  
🔴 Entry #1013

🔴 Entry #1018

🟢 Entry #1026
by Susan Alexander

Text of Poem

Location: Seńákw commonly known as Vanier Park

The first three stanzas of this poem take the reader to the current site of Sen̓ákw also known as Vanier Park where there is a shifting scene of stunt kites, bicycles, joggers, music, picnickers and Bard on the Beach tents in which the play Lysistrata is being performed. The last three stanzas awaken the settler speaker of the poem, and the reader, to the dark colonial history of Sen̓ákw.
🔴 Entry #1012
the stone artist
by Theresa Rogers

Text of Poem

Location: Stanley Park Seawall   

When you walk along the Stanley Park seawall, so full of its own history, you will come upon cairns sculptured only with stones precariously balanced, yet they often manage to remain for several days, resembling flocks of birds. Only once have I seen an actual artist at work — often is seems it is done in quiet hours while others are not around.
🔴 Entry #1006

🔴 Entry #1015

🔴 Entry #1017

🟢 Entry #1020

🟢 Entry #1021

🟢 Entry #1022

🟢 Entry #1023
This was meant to be for Nora
by Junie Desil

Text of Poem 

Location: Hogan’s Alley  

A poem based on a dream about Jimi Hendrix and his grandmother, Nora Hendrix, who was a community leader in Hogan’s Alley, located in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver. From the early 1900s to the late 1960s, the Strathcona neighbourhood was the home to Vancouver’s first and only black community. Watch video stories of Black Strathcona here.
🔴 Entry #1014

🟢 Entry #1030

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

Text of Poem   

Location: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden   

“To the Otter Who Snuck into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden and Ate the Koi” is about the otter, from the point of view of a formerly homeless person who is now living in an SRO, thinking about the similarities and differences between him and the otter.
🔴 Entry #1004

🔴 Entry #1009

by Sadhu Binning
from his bilingual poetry collection No More Watno Dur (Mawenzi House Publishers, 1994)

Text of Poem

Location: Coal Harbour 

A poem about belonging and exclusion. Read about the history of the SS Komagata Maru in 1914 here, and background to the current civic monument in the park here.
🔴 Entry #1011

🟢 Entry #1029

What Do I Remember of the Evacuation
by Joy Kogawa
from the graphic poetry book, What Do I Remember of the Evacuation  (Scholastic Education Canada, 1985) and in A Garden of Anchors (Mosaic Publishers, 2003)

Text of Poem 

Location: Hastings Park and Marpole

Reflections and memories of a poet who was forcibly removed and interned as a 6 year-old child along with her Japanese Canadian family in BC in 1942. Please see Canadian Encyclopedia on Japanese Canadian internment and the Hastings Park 1942 website.

🟢 Entry #1025

🔴 Entry #1038