Stylesheets: Screen version | Mobile

Poet Laureate Program

In 2014, the City selected Naomi Beth Wakan as Nanaimo's first Poet Laureate for a three-year term. Based on the success of the program we are pleased to continue with the next chapter.

Nanaimo’s Newest Poet Laureate:  Ms. Tina Biello

Ms. Tina Biello was selected for her strong connection to the artistic community and passion for the arts.  She has a great vision and plan for her new role as Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate and is very keen and excited to engage the mainstream community in poetry.   As a published poet who has done readings in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Fanny Bay, Montreal and Italy, she has seen firsthand the importance of getting poetry to more of the population. Most people who attend readings are already poetry aficionados, but Ms. Biello would love to see more people appreciate the power of poetry.   

Ms. Biello understands the importance of collaborating with other art forms through her experience working with other artists. She also worked with composers and has even had her poems composed into music.

Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate will continue to raise the profile of the local literary arts by creating and presenting works that are relevant to the life and culture of our city.

Nanaimo’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate:  Ms. Kailey DeFehr

The purpose of a Youth Poet Laureate is to serve as a “young people’s poet” and to raise awareness of poetry, the literary arts and the positive impact literature and poetry can have on community life.  Mentored by the Poet Laureate, the Youth Poet Laureate will present original work to City Council, the Youth Advisory Council, and the community through a variety of civic events.  As well, they will organize community-based youth poetry projects.

Ms. DeFehr learned to further develop her craft through the Creative Writing Department at VIU and has already participated in many of the City’s Poetry initiatives.  She brings with her a strong connection to the Poetic community and some strong ideas for her term as Nanaimo’s First Poet Laureate.   As the Youth Poet Laureate it is her goal to extend her passion to other young poets within the community, to help them find or rediscover a voice that matters: their own.  Poetry has a tendency to be undervalued, and Ms. DeFehr believes that young poets may have a difficult time admitting in today’s world how much we love and appreciate this ancient form of communication.

It is her hope to bring the young poets together; not to become the best or the most brilliant but just to share, for the fun of it.   Just to provide a voice or create the opportunities for other young poets in Nanaimo because all art forms are beautiful, as are the people who make them.

Reaching “a variety of youth” populations and encouraging peer to peer education and inspiration, the Youth Poet Laureate will pave the way for future youth to engage on a civic level through their artistic voice.


Nanaimo's First Poet Laureate: Naomi Beth Wakan

On October 21, 2013, Council approved Naomi Beth Wakan as Nanaimo's first Poet Laureate for a three-year term (2013-2016).  The purpose of a Poet Laureate for Nanaimo is to serve as a "people's poet" and to raise awareness of poetry and the literary arts, and the positive impact literature and poetry can have on community life.


About Naomi Beth Wakan

Wakan is a prolific writer, has published extensively, and is a respected member of the local literary community. Read about Naomi on Island Women and



In the News

 Nanaimo Poetry Map - Call for Poetry

Still Accepting Poems for the Nanaimo Poetry Map!

 As parts of the map are filling up, we are sending out this third call for specific places that need a poem attached.  Please see the Submission Guidelines below for more information.

The Nanaimo Poetry Map provides a creative perspective of the city. A map, generally speaking, imposes a system of knowledge upon a place. It denotes the official names of streets and buildings, displays property ownership, tells the reader where s/he can or can’t go – that kind of thing. This map is different, it asks the reader to explore the city through poetry, to understand the spaces within it differently because of the poems.

Please view the Submission Guidelines  or contact the Culture and Heritage Department for more information.


Minor Navigation