Poet celebrates milestone

NANAIMO - Harbour City's poet laureate celebrates second year as a cultural ambassador for Nanaimo.

Nanaimo's inaugural poet laureate Naomi Beth Wakan celebrates her second anniversary as the Poet Laureate at the Nanaimo Art Gallery's Art Lab

With two years under her belt as Nanaimo’s inaugural poet laureate Naomi Beth Wakan jovially suggests she’d like to add another tradition to the position for the next poet receiving the honour.

“I would like a tiara and a sash, you know how the Miss Universe has the ribbon. I would like a ribbon. It would be fun to pass on the sash to the next poet,” said Wakan.

Wakan, who lives on Gabriola, still has a year left as the city’s cultural ambassador. Who knows if a tiara is on the horizon, but she has a number of upcoming projects she’s excited about.

She’s hoping to create a poetry competition for high school students.

Another new initiative is a poetry map for Nanaimo. The map will allow users to select specific locations in the city, such as historical sites or parks, and read a poem that relates to the location.

“We want specific spots … it’s quite exciting,” she said.

The project will use a map similar to the Google Map format. People can click on the location they are visiting and a PDF of the poem will open.

When she was first named as poet laureate, Wakan hoped she could inspire others to discover their creative outlets.

“Anybody I meet I insist they can be writers,” she said. “I am so keen in the use of poetry in expressing feelings and observing life in particular.”

Some of the highlights Wakan has enjoyed as poet laureate over the past year include the Cascadia Poetry Festival.

“Hundreds of poets came and it was so exciting,” said Wakan.

She likes speaking at the cultural events held around the city.

At the end of her first year Wakan published a chapbook of poems, Naomi in Nanaimo. She’s created another for this year, Naomi in Nanaimo Again.

To celebrate her second anniversary, a gathering is being held at the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Art Lab, located at 150 Commercial St. Sunday (Nov. 21) at 2 p.m.

The event is free but space is limited. Please e-mail darbykm@gmail.com.


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