January 15, 2021
VICTORIA, BC – The City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria Public Library are pleased to announce James Summer is Victoria’s new Youth Poet Laureate.
The Youth Poet Laureate serves as Victoria’s champion for youth and the literary arts, seeking to inspire and engage local youth to share their stories through both written and spoken word, and serves a one-year honorary term.
“I am excited to welcome James Summer as our new Youth Poet Laureate for 2021,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “I know his work and unique talent will inspire and give youth an important voice that will help connect and build a stronger community around poetry.”
James Summer began writing poetry in his junior year of high school when he joined Vic High School’s slam poetry club. Over the years he participated and competed in Vic Voices, Hullabaloo and various open mics, and became president of the slam poetry club in his senior year.
As the next Youth Poet Laureate, he hopes to connect with other youth in Victoria and share his love of poetry. He finds that poetry is a medium that can express growth, pain and love through self-expression in a safe space, and wants to be able to help create that safe space for others.
“Poetry has helped me cope with feelings of loneliness and memories of a bittersweet childhood,” said James Summer. “As a transgender individual and as Youth Poet Laureate, I hope that I can bring awareness about the topic of being transgender and to have important conversations about stigma and labels.”
A Call for Nominations was held in the fall and was open to Capital Region poets 14 – 24 years of age. Applicants were required to have an established body of work (written or spoken word) and to have been recognized for notable contributions in their career. Submissions were evaluated by a peer committee of representatives of the literary and poetry community.
“James’ love of poetry inspires other youth to find their voice and to tell their own unique stories. The Greater Victoria Public Library is excited to be working with James. It will be a wonderful opportunity for us both,” said Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library.
Mentored by Victoria’s Poet Laureate John Barton, the Youth Poet Laureate creates and presents new works to Victoria City Council and Youth Council, conducts poetry readings at City and Greater Victoria Public Library events, and organizes a community youth poetry event.
The Youth Poet Laureate is an honorary one-year term position from January 1 to December 31, 2021. In addition to the year-long mentorship, the position receives a $1,750 honorarium and $2,000 of project funding. The Youth Poet Laureate position is funded by the City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria Public Library.
Victoria was the first municipality in Canada to have a Youth Poet Laureate. For more information, visit: www.victoria.ca/youthpoetlaureate.
For More Information:
Arts, Culture and Events Office
Coordinator, Marketing and Development
Greater Victoria Public Library
250.940.4875 ext. 346