In NUVO’s poet laureate series, we speak with current poets holding the title as of 2016 for Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Charlottetown, Halifax, the Yukon, and Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate. Below, words from Victoria’s Yvonne Blomer.
Yvonne Blomer is Victoria’s fourth poet laureate and seeks to raise awareness concerning the environmental damage caused by industrialization. Blomer believes that through poetry, people can view the world from a different perspective, compelling us to take a step back and reconsider the ramifications of our behaviour on the natural world.
What does being a poet laureate mean to you?
I think it gives me an opportunity to bring poetry to places that wouldn’t usually have poetry, and to pull more people into exploring or understanding this art form. I have read at a World Mental Health Day at the hospital in Victoria, and have talked about Leonard Cohen as a poet at an event called Be4Play through the Belfry Theatre. Most people think of him as a singer first, but he was a poet first, and remains one.
I also think one of the things about being poet laureate of Victoria is responding to what’s going on in the city or the region that is of concern, such as the LNG project and the Kinder Morgan expansion, both of these industrial-based commercial enterprises further threaten our Pacific coast and as poet laureate I have an opportunity to bring attention to such issues.
Why do you feel it is important for Canada to have a poet laureate?
I think by having poetry at City Hall meetings and at World Mental Health Day or on the stage for Canada Day allows for another way to think about and explore an issue or an event. It opens people up. Poetry sings and sinks into people’s hearts and that is important. In fact, art is important because it makes us think, it allows us to settle into contemplation and hopefully a deeper understanding of events and issues.
What kind poetry do you typically write?
I write lyrical free verse. My first book explored my experiences of living in Japan and my second was also focused on places, both in the physical world and the internal places we explore through life experiences. My most recent book is called As if a Raven and explores wildness, birds, creation, destruction, and beauty through biblical texts and how birds are used.
Are there any projects that you are working on?
I am currently editing an anthology called The Pacific Ocean: Protecting our Endangered Coast which will be published next fall by Caitlin Press. I have submissions from over 200 poets in Canada, the U.S., and other parts of the world. I think through artists and writers we have an opportunity to draw awareness to the need for change in a way that instantly connects to people, via images and metaphors.
Someone is writing
In the tawny light of autumn, at a corner window
or nestled desk, someone is writing.
The moon. A lake. Her opus. His city. This island.
The very oceans we praise. Someone
is making this world strange.
Is writing Luck in its green clothes,
writing Fear in its dark cloaks.
Someone is writing,
hand in hair, shoulders hunched,
the children left at daycare, the piano notes cold on air,
someone is writing on a too-bright screen.
Someone’s lover has left
and still, they write – to question, to regale,
to pull shadow out of the deep sea, the mystery shack,
pull harvest from the ant’aalkw, the ground and stars,
the blood moon. Someone is on knees
in rain and its scents, with the wings of insects,
with motes embedded in fingerprints, mud under nails,
calloused feet writing
as ants build their disciplined nests in earth and leaf,
writing as the raccoon steals in, takes the pond’s last fish
and the heron, watching, lets it.
The heron in its grey feathered cape, and the writer
holding what might be endangered in a fragile firm beak.
(“Someone is writing” by Yvonne Blomer for the Victoria Book Prizes, 2015.)
To meet other poets laureate click, here.