About the Contest

The Vancouver Poet Laureate’s City Poems Contest aims to stimulate public engagement and interest in poetry about historical, cultural and ecological sites within the area that we now know as Vancouver and the UBC Endowment Lands.

Stage One of the City Poems Contest was held from Jan-Jun 2022 to generate new site-based poems across the City, and is now closed. Click here to read and listen to the winning and shortlisted poems from Stage One.

On January 16. 2022, Stage One of the City Poems Contest was launched with an online event featuring local poets Joanne Arnott, Junie Desil, Kevin Spenst, Evelyn Lau, and Alex Leslie through the Vancouver Public Library. This was followed by a live workshop held at Vancouver’s historic Mountain View Cemetery with Pandora’s Writing Collective. Posters were disseminated to local high schools, community centres, seniors centres and neighbourhood houses. The Vancouver Public Library hosted an online Crafting Poems about Place workshop. Heritage Vancouver also hosted an online place-based poem workshop.

Although this first 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 for those still interested in exploring the writing of place-based poems on their own. (Archived details about Stage One of the Contest can be found here.)

Stage Two of the Contest will be announced later this year and will involve a contest for post-secondary students from pre-selected local public post-secondary courses in film, animation, media studies or digital studies to make poetry videos based on a curated list drawn from the shortlisted emerging and established category poems from Stage One with possibly a few additions to ensure representation. (Youth and other category finalists may also have the opportunity to learn to make their own videos based on their winning poems.) Submissions will open in January, close in April, with judging in May and an Awards Ceremony and Screening in June 2023. The goal of the second stage of the contest is to encourage collaboration and the creation of well-crafted poetry videos that can be seen at screenings and online to foster poetry, literacy, and an understanding and appreciation of local history and culture.