December 24, 2021

City Poems Contest

What historical, cultural or ecological sites in Vancouver intrigue, fascinate, or move you? Perhaps it is the ancient Musqueam village and burial site at c̓əsnaʔəm, a specific building in historic neighbourhood such as Chinatown or Hogan’s Alley, Deadman’s Island in False Creek, Hastings Park where Japanese Canadians were interned during WW II, or Burrard inlet where 376 passengers on the steamship Komagata Maru lay at anchor for 3 months in 1914 not allowed to disembark, or one of Vancouver’s gardens, hidden streams or remaining old growth trees? Here’s your chance to write a poem related to the origins and the multifaceted history of places within the territory presently known as the City of Vancouver and the UBC Endowment Lands.   Website for submission:


There are three categories for entering the contest:
  • Youth (grade 12 or under)
  • Adults (who have not published a book
  • Adults (who have already published one or more books)
For each category, there will be a first prize of $300, a second prize of $200, and a third prize of $100.

  • The poem must be original, unpublished and not submitted for publication elsewhere during the course of the contest.
  • Poems MUST relate in a significant way to a historical, cultural or ecological site within the area presently known as the City of Vancouver or the UBC Endowment Lands. (Poems about sites outside this area unfortunately will not be eligible.)
  • Word limit: up to 400 words per poem (less is fine). Spoken word or visual poetry: up to 3 minutes.
  • Limit of two poems maximum per poet.
  • Poems must be typed, 12 point font in Times New Roman or similar font. For spoken word poems, a print version plus a MP4 recording must be submitted..
  • Submissions will only be received between January 16 - April 15, 2022 and must be sent by email to a special contest email and submission form that will be available on the VPL poet laureate webpage on January 16.
  • Winners will be announced in June 2022.
Some possible initial resources (not a comprehensive list):

BC: An Untold History (especially segments 3 and 4 in relation to Vancouver)
Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Places that Matter
Museum of Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library’s This Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library Local History Collections
The Pacific Canada Heritage Centre: Museum of Migration Society
Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre
Chinese Canadian Museum
The Jewish Museum & Archives of BC
BC Black History Awareness Society
Sikh Heritage Month BC
Becoming Vancouver: A History by Daniel Francis
Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History and Sensational Vancouver by Eve Lazarus
Vancouver: A Visual History, by Bruce Macdonald
Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, by Derek Hayes
Vancouver Remembered, by Michael Kluckner
Saltwater City: Story of Vancouver’s Chinese Community by Paul Yee
Vancouver after Dark: The Wild History of a City’s Nightlife by Aaron Chapman

*Note: A few examples of the historical, cultural and ecological sites to explore through poetry: Stanley Park, Davie Street Village, Hastings Park Livestock Buildings (Japanese Canadian WWII internment), the Japanese Language School, Hogan’s Alley, Oppenheimer Park, Crab Park, Punjabi Market, Deadman’s Island, Second Narrows Bridge, Lion’s Gate Bridge, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, St. Paul’s Hospital, Fountain Chapel, Mountain View Cemetery, Nat Bailey Stadium, the Chinese Freemason Building, the Sam Kee Building, Fountain Chapel, the Ancient Musqueam village burial site in Marpole, Coal Harbour where the Komagata Maru tried to dock, and Still Creek. There are dozens of specific buildings, parks, community hubs, temples, churches, hidden streams, historic gardens and neighbourhoods that could be integrated into a poem!