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.

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.

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.

Of the over 250 wonderful poems submitted for the contest by youth, emerging poets and established poets about historical, cultural or ecological sites within the City of Vancouver, only 27 were chosen as finalists.

Click here to see the names of the shortlisted authors and the winners from Stage One 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.

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 involves 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 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 December/January, close in April, with judging in May and an Awards Ceremony and Screening on June 11, 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.

IMPORTANT: Please note that not all the shortlisted poems and poets are on the eligible list of poems for Stage Two of the contest. Some of the shortlisted poets did not wish to participate in Stage Two. (A few additional published poems by local poets were added for representation.)