Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate is a literary ambassador for the City of Nanaimo. Through their role they raise the profile of literary arts in our community by creating and presenting poetic works and activities that are relevant to our times and respond to our place. Nanaimo’s next Poet Laureate will engage and inspire, bring their own unique voice and experience to collaborate and realize poetry projects for the benefit of our community. 

Activating poetry through a Civic Role

The activities of the Poet Laureate will be shaped by the Poet’s own artistic objectives and trajectory. They will be invited to:

  • participate in the life of the city and serve as a literary ambassador for Nanaimo;
  • participate in agreed upon civic events by presenting works that are relevant to life in Nanaimo. Events in the past include reciting at civic Canada Day celebrations, or at Council meetings);
  • inform and participate in programming organized by the City, or by City partners, related to National Poetry Month (April);
  • produce at least one new work each year that is relevant to life in Nanaimo and collaborate to disseminate that work to a broad public
  • liaise with and serve as a mentor to Nanaimo’s Youth Poet Laureate 
  • work in collaboration with City Staff and other partners as appropriate.
Portrait of Kamal Parmar
Image by Dirk Heydemann from HA photography

Kamal Parmar (2021-2023)

Kamal Parmar is a Nanaimo-based poet and writer who has been passionately engaged with writing from a very early age. She experiments often with Haiku poetry and also with creative non-fiction. Her poems explore a range of topics, from childhood recollections of her home in India, to the beauty of the Canadian prairies, to her personal journey, alongside her mother, through Alzheimer’s. Kamal’s work has been published in the UK, Canada and India. Her books include Still Waters (2020), Letters to a Son and a Daughter (2019), In the Rising Mist (2013), Fleeting Shadows (2010) and Filigree and Flint (1997).  Kamal has been involved in the life of the cultural community in Nanaimo for many years. She has frequently presented poems at venues across Vancouver Island, was involved with the City of Nanaimo’s Culture Committee, and more recently with Nanaimo Arts Council.  She is active member of a several provincial and national writers’ organizations and guilds. Currently, she is an Associate member of the League of Canadian Poets, and is a Board member of the Federation of BC Writers. She is also a member of Haiku Canada and of The Writers Union of Canada and the Canadian Authors Association.  She has been involved with the Ontario Poetry Society. 

Canada Day Poem


A salutation

Lying between coast to coast to coast,
is a country called Canada.
We often call it far flung and freezing cold.
I say to you--
If ever there was a heaven on earth, it is here.
Where else do we get to live in the land of Anne of Green Gables, 
but in our very own Maritime provinces?
Where can we set foot on the land of the Vikings, other than here?
Where in this wide world,
do we get to smell a Mayflower, a lily or a trillium,
bathe in the aura of the purple violet and Lady’s slipper?
hear the thunderous roar of Niagara 
surrounded by glistening Great Lakes,
then, be hypnotized by the still silence 
of the far flung Haida Gwaii islands?
We go all the way to Manitoba,
to watch polar bears at play?
Is there any other Polar Bear capital in the world?
When Life becomes a drudgery of routine, 
we escape to the vast Land of living skies,
are bewitched by the lingering sunset of the prairies,
as we eat bison burgers and savour Saskatoon berries.
When the Muse calls on us,
we grasp our easel and palette
and trudge all the way to the Bay of Fundy,
trying  to capture the lighthouses dotting it.
When life becomes a bit edgy , Quebec beckons us to Old Montreal,
where we trudge on cobblestone streets and walk down memory lane.
We often dream of going to the Maritimes,
just to dance to the sound of bagpipes .
Another time, we travel to Wild Rose country 
to watch the Calgary Stampede.
Sometimes, we want to fly ever so high,
to watch the Northern Lights , 
their swirling green lights like the rustling wings of a giant fairy,
at other times, we become hikers trekking to the rugged Rockies
to finally land in Beautiful British Columbia—
beauty is the very  breath of Life.
Our dream ends—on terra firma,
on Nature’s playground, we call Nanaimo.
Let us come together--
Let us raise a glass of Okanagan wine
to this great Land – Our Canada.

Happy Canada Day!


Poems for Windows

Over the course of 2022, poetry posters have been designed by Webb Creative as an activation of the Urban Design Roster. Members of the public were invited to submit poems for inclusion in the project, which offered a new poem each month in various locations across Nanaimo.  

Flying High, reading at City Council, January 2022


The First Snowfall

Late afternoon sky,
the sun blotted by ruffled clouds,
tinted a mellow gold.
The day seems languid, but daylight no longer lingers.
It is the first snowfall of the season,
still waters of Nanaimo river, mirror soaring pines and arbutus,
their serrated silhouettes melting into the molten waters.
Mallards and pintails sweep low,
skim the waters and dive up into the fresh wintry air, 
to ride on cushions of sudden gusts of  ocean breeze.
All is cloaked in silence, so eerie.

Standing on a wooden bridge
flanking the river,
I watch a heron poised on a rocky ledge
eyeing me  with a curious stare,

spellbound by the magic of winter in Nanaimo.



Summer Is Passing

Sky, not a deep blue but mottled with cloud.
Every time I look, they change from wispy silver to curling grey.
A week back, a burnt-orange sun hung in the coppery bowl of the sky
and the evening star, late coming.
The sea shimmered like lapis lazuli,
now ruffled, strong waves toss,
fill the air with spray that tickles my cheek.
The waning pulse of the day,
as darkness closes in, much before lights on.
The church bell tolls for evening vespers.

Summer passes.
The breeze, empty of honeysuckle
claps through arbutus and maple leaves,
rises and falls among the willow.
No longer is there the mundane crescendo of the honey-bee
nor the rasp of crickets or cicadas,
echoing from overgrown bramble bush.
Feathery dandelions dance in the breeze,
children shout and run, chasing butterflies.
as summer is passing—
and children won’t let go.
In dark lakes and moors, ringed with oak and willow,
the swallow and skylark stop and listen
to the first drizzle of rain.
The air laced with juniper.


Tina Biello (2017-2020)

Tina Biello was selected as Poet Laureate for her strong connection to the artistic community and passion for the arts. She has a great vision and plan for her new role 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. She 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.

Naomi Beth Wakan (2013-2016)

Naomi Beth Wakan was named Nanaimo's inaugural Poet Laureate from 2013 to 2016. She raised awareness of poetry, literary arts and the positive impact that poetry has on community life. She is a prolific writer and a respected member of the local literary community.


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Last updated: July 22, 2022

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