The time has come. The word is out. The contest to name a new Poet Laureate of the Comox Valley has begun.

The initial “Word up!” search two years ago named Kevin Flesher as Poet Laureate. He proved tireless in his efforts to make the Comox Valley a more literate place, making scores of appearances, organizing dozens of events, publishing books and generally making the world of wordcraft cool again.

Now, Comox Valley Arts (aka Comox Valley Community Arts Council) has begun the search for a Flesher’s successor, to engage and inspire the community for a new two-year term.

“We’re encouraging word artists from all forms of poetic expression, from songwriters and rappers to classic page poets and spoken word artists,” says CV Arts board member Jamie Bowman. “We have so much – and such diverse – talent in our community. We want it all.”

The winner will open for famed Canadian pop and jazz singer/songwriter Coco Love Alcorn, then will perform at the Comox Valley Arts 50th Anniversary celebrations April 1, plus be awarded a minimum $1000 honorarium to carry out Poet Laureate duties over the term.

“Just as writing is a social catalyst, a poet laureate can be seen as a community alchemist, divining the moments to lament and celebrate, using his or her words to glue people together in times of joy and sorrow,” says Linda Rogers, past poet laureate for Victoria and one of the judges that chose Flesher.

To date, Cumberland Village Works and North Island College have stepped up as sponsors. With more sponsors, the honorarium can be increased.

The winner will be expected to create works during the year, appear at significant community events (i.e. Elevate the Arts, Miners Memorial, Canada Day, etc.), work to stimulate and encourage poetic and cultural writing, and serve as a lightning rod for the mood of the community.

The judging panel also has ‘big-tent’ representation, including current Poet Laureate Flesher, Anne Cumming, the English Department Chair at North Island College, and Eric Ettinger, half of the rap duo Butterfinger Bombsquad, and whose past group Still-Life Family opened for 2-Live Crew during their years of touring.

“We’re looking to add a young person, who is also a songwriter/lyricist, to round out the jury,” said Bowman.

Writers can either apply themselves or be nominated by someone who knows the value of their work and their potential for the community.

Deadline for entries is Feb. 14/17.