The Poet Laureate, “the people’s poet,” is an honorary position with a two-year term. Serving as a champion for poetry, language, and the arts, the Laureate creates a unique literary project and represents the City as Laureate during readings and public poetry events.
Funded through a generous endowment by Dr. Yosef Wosk, OBC, the position was established in 2006 by the City of Vancouver in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Writers’ Festival.
What's happening2022-2024 Poet Laureate
Fiona Tinwei Lam
Fiona Tinwei Lam has authored 3 poetry collections and a children's book, and produced several award-winning poetry videos that have screened at festivals all over the world. Besides editing the anthology, The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems on Facing Cancer, she has co-edited 2 nonfiction anthologies.
Shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award and thrice selected for BC’s Poetry in Transit, her work appears in over 40 anthologies, including the Best Canadian Poetry series. A former lawyer, she has an MFA in creative writing from UBC. She currently teaches at SFU's Continuing Studies.
Poet Laureate project
Fiona Tinwei Lam’s 4-stage City Poems Project has involved community outreach to encourage the generation of new poems and poetry videos to foster greater understanding about significant historical, cultural and ecological sites on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples now known as the City of Vancouver.
- Stage 1: A poetry contest External website, opens in new tab for youth and adults to write poems about historical, cultural or ecological sites within the city (January to June 2022).
- Stage 2: A poetry video contest External website,opens in new tab for selected post-secondary classes based on the prior year’s award-winning poems and a few o ther curated site-based poems (January to June 2023).
- Stage 3: Development of a geolocated app External website, opens in new tab in collaboration with UBC’s CEDaR team to enable the public to access audio-recordings of the site-based poems from stages 1 and 2 (2023 to 2024).
- Stage 4: A writing retreat stage for the poet laureate to generate her own Vancouver-based poems (2023 to 2024).
For more detailed information about each stage and to see the 27 finalists poems as well as all 33 submitted post-secondary poetry videos, refer to the City Poems Project External website, opens in new tab
Contest winners announced
On June 11, the winners of the Vancouver Poet Laureate’s City Poems Contest 2023 were announced and screened at a ceremony at the Museum of Vancouver. All the poetry videos can still be viewed on the VPL’s YouTube playlist External website, opens in new tab for the contest.
Schools in the Vancouver school district may book a one-hour workshop with the Vancouver Poet Laureate through the Poet in Class program with Poetry in Voice, or by contacting Fiona directly at email@example.com.