RACHEL STERN / The News Bulletin                                 Naomi Beth Wakan unveiled her poem on the City of Nanaimo’s Poetry Walk March 23 during an official ceremony.
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RACHEL STERN / The News Bulletin Naomi Beth Wakan unveiled her poem on the City of Nanaimo’s Poetry Walk March 23 during an official ceremony.

First stone laid for Nanaimo’s Poetry Walk

Inaugural poet laueate Naomi Beth Wakan honoured with first poem on Nanaimo’s Poetry Walk

A poem now graces a Nanaimo street.

The City of Nanaimo unveiled the first stone in its Poetry Walk during an official ceremony March 23 in front of the Port Theatre. The stone features a poem by Nanaimo’s inaugural poet laureate Naomi Beth Wakan.

“It’s quite an exciting idea that Chris Barfoot had from culture and heritage and a big surprise to me,” said Wakan. “It’s the kind of idea I would have thought of myself if I had been a little bit more daring.”

At the end of the poet laureate’s term, a new poem will be added to the Poetry Walk, which Wakan said she thinks is a “lovely idea.”

“Poetry, I must admit, is not the first thought for most residents of Nanaimo. There are more pressing problems, but I do think over the three years and certainly with things Tina (Biello) has in mind, they are going to open people’s ears and eyes to the real beauty and the real purpose of poetry, which gives thoughts and emotions that are allowed to be expressed in a condensed form,” said Wakan.

Biello is Nanaimo’s current poet laureate.

Wakan’s poem is a tanka, a Japanese poem, with just five lines. She created the poem after hearing that she was named the City of Nanaimo’s inaugural poet laureate.

“The poem does show my shift of mind that I would have to be committed for the next three years,” she said.

Chris Barfoot, culture and heritage coordinator for the City of Nanaimo, said that as the Poetry Walk continues to grow it will reinforce the idea that Nanaimo is a cultural capital and people’s understanding and belief of the importance of culture in the community and a sense of pride.

“The unveiling of the Poetry Walk signifies the success of our poet laureate program and the wonderful work that Naomi has done and her impact in the community,” said Barfoot, adding that the culture and heritage department is looking forward to adding many more installments from future poet laureates.

The Poetry Walk highlights “Nanaimo’s support for poetry and the literary arts and also reinforces the success of the poet laureate program,” according to a City of Nanaimo press release. The poet laureate program began in 2014.


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