Performance round brings out big talent and plans

Towering talent, serious courage, and an word-appreciative full house were all in full play Monday evening for performances by applicants’ seeking to be the next Poet Laureate. WordUp2, organized by Comox Valley Arts, brought eight applicants to the stage to perform their poetic works, tell the room about themselves and their plans for the position, and why they should be poet laureate.  From that, the judging panel came up with four finalists.


That quartet will face the crowd and judges again this Friday in the WordUp2 finalists’ round, also at Michael’s Off Main at 7 p.m.

“We all really enjoyed the experience of jurying an extremely talented pool of poet laureate applicants,” said jury spokesperson Anne Cumming, of NIC’s English Dept. “We struggled to decide on the four.”

The jury then named Shayne Avec I Grec, Jenny Lee, Myron Shutty, and Natalie Nickerson to come back to Michael's “for an evening of more poetry reading, hard-hitting questions from the jury, and on-the-spot poetry challenges.

She said the jurists liked Avec I Grec's "site specific" approach, and said the jury is “looking forward to learning more about how he might promote that as poet laureate.”

Lee’s dry humour and strong presence attracted the jury’s attention. “The jury is curious to hear some more of her poetry.”

Nickerson struck the jurors as someone who has a great passion for poetry and potentially relatable to many different kinds of writers.

Meanwhile, Myron Shutty's poetry “felt familiar and grounded,” Cumming said.

On Friday, the jury, poets and audience “will explore the many dimensions of the four finalists, as they show us how they are able to step out of who they are as artists in order to be relatable to demographics other than their own,” she said.

The honour of poet laureate is supplemented by a cash honorarium, built from sponsorships raised by Comox Valley Arts from, Coastal Community Credit Union, North Island College, Vancouver Island Regional Library, Sure Copy, and Cumberland Village Works.