One great act, followed by another.

Outgoing Comox Valley Poet Laureate Kevin Flesher set the bar high over the past two years, with dozens of appearances, events, new writings, two books and a school district poetry contest.

The Word Up2 search for the next Poet Laureate is underway, after entries closed Feb. 14th.  Now, each of the aspiring wordsmiths will give their all, as they appear before public and jury, this Monday Mar. 6th at 7 p.m. in Michael’s Off Main, 355 Fourth Street in Courtenay.

Then the best of the page poets, rappers and songwriters will compete again, Friday March 10 at 7pm at Michael’s in the Word Up2 finals, vying for the honour and the $1000 honorarium.

If the inaugural poet laureate competition was a benchmark, the jury will be hard pressed to make a decision among the talented entrants using words and verse, emotion and intensity, and plans for raising community cultural literacy.

The Word Up2 search is a project organized by Comox Valley Arts and the winner will debut at CV Arts’ 50th Anniversary Gala April 1st at the Filberg, celebrating half a century as the regional arts council. Then, the new laureate will open for famed Canadian pop/jazz/soul singer-songwriter Coco Love Alcorn later in May.

The March 6 event will kick off with a reading by Flesher, his penultimate act as the Valley’s first ever Poet Laureate.

“There are plenty many poets here,” Flesher rhymed. “Of every stripe and kind, They lurk and strut out openly, Seek them, Ye shall find.
“There's poets in the oyster boats, And mumbling in the bars, Proclaiming in the café, And gazing at the stars.”

“The submissions by the candidates show style, courage and credibility,” says Anne Cumming, long-time member of the North Island College English department and a jury member. “But the performance of the finalists and the interviews will give us a better picture.”

Also on the jury are acclaimed singer-songwriter PK Tessman, rapper Eric Ettinger of Butterfinger Bombsquad, and Flesher.

The Word Up2 Poet Laureate search is sponsored by Comox Valley Arts, North Island College English Dept., Sure Copy, Cumberland Village Works, Coastal Community Credit Union and Vancouver Island Regional Library. (Additional sponsors are welcome. If you would like to be attached to this project and support literacy projects in the Comox Valley, contact [email protected] - proceeds of sponsorship support marketing costs, event production costs and the honouraria available to the Poet Laureate for their time and effort)