Nickerson named Laureate; first event at CV Arts gala

An obvious heartfelt passion for poetry tipped the scales in favour of Natalie Nickerson Friday night as the WordUp2 judging panel named her as the new Poet Laureate of the Comox Valley.

“What really made Natalie stand out and shine was her heartfelt passion for poetry and her eloquent explanation of the power of poetry,” said Kevin Flesher, the outgoing poet laureate and a member of the panel.

Nickerson’s first official duties will come April 1 when she is presented as the Valley’s official Poet Laureate at the Comox Valley Arts Council’s 50th anniversary gala at the Florence Filberg Centre.

Fellow panelist and songwriter PK Tessman was also struck by Nickerson’s love for poetry. “You could hear the smile in her voice,” she said following the finals event at Michaels Off Main.

The four finalists – Jenny Lee, Myron Shutty, Shayne Avec E Grec and Nickerson – started off by reading their favourite works. But then they were assigned on-the-spot writing challenges by the judges and asked of their plans for the poet laureate if they won, how they would nurture community partnerships, what inspires them and how they would inspire others to poetry, and what unique characteristics they would bring to the position.

Nickerson’s poetry challenges were “very well thought out and clever and she answered each of our questions with a thoughtful and realistic approach,” said Tessman.

“Along with her genuine friendliness, her solid plans for the Poet Laureate position, and her passion for her work, she will be a very inspiring poet to many people - young and old - in our community, leading to a greater awareness and stronger culture of poetry in the Comox Valley.”

The Poet Laureate was organized by the area arts council, Comox Valley Arts, which raised a $1000 cash honorarium and costs for the Laureate project with sponsorships from Coastal Community Credit Union, North Island College, Vancouver Island Regional Library, Sure Copy, and Cumberland Village Works.

After winning, Nickerson reflected that each finalist had brought “unique talent, a distinct expression and his or her own innovative ideas for how to represent poetry in the Valley,” making each well worthy of winning.

“So, I was both surprised and unsurprised when they announced I’d be the poet replacing Kevin as Poet Laureate,” she said.

“I felt deserving and honoured at the same time. Poetry is a passion, a calling for me and it therefore feels natural to take on the position of poetry advocate and community poet.

“Poetry is perhaps the least known and appreciated art form. I am thrilled to have the chance, through this role, to expose the community to a more poetic lens through which to relate to the world around us, to investigate the depths of truth and beauty that poetry offers.”

The Comox Valley Poet Laureate Program is supported by: