Raised in an Ontario swamp, Natalie Nickerson feels fortunate she wasn’t consumed by a swarm of mosquitoes before she was big enough to fend them off herself.
Natalie Nickerson was chosen Laureate on March 10, 2017 following a search organized by Comox Valley Arts, your regional arts council. She will serve a two-year term, until March 2019.
She has great respect for amphibians since those creatures worked hard to keep her alive in those early springs by eating as many of those blood-suckers as they could. Now, in her forties with those near-death experiences far behind her, Natalie finds her inner landscape reflective of the one she grew up in: beeswax calm, tigerlily quiet, free as a blue sky and wild as a thunderclap. Raising her daughter on blackberries and wonder in the Comox Valley has been the cherished focus of Natalie’s adult life. She relishes the beauty around her and writes about it often.
Having recently graduated from Vancouver Island University with a teaching degree, Natalie is now excited to further artistically explore the concepts that she found most inspiring during her education: ambiguity, for instance; what benefits can we glean from cultivating a tolerance for ambiguity? She feels that in exploring inquiries of this nature she will discover fruits capable of enriching anyone who encounters their expression in whatever form that may take, be it a poem, a sculpture or a carefully prepared meal. She looks forward to her role as Poet Laureate and the platform it offers for engaging the public in deep inquiry and poetic expression. She believes that everyone is a poet since poems are the expression of the vital force that courses through us all. Call it soul, call it spirit, call it what you will, though the quiet and cracked voice may not have spoken since childhood, it is never too late to speak, to be heard.
As Poet Laureate for the entire region, Natalie is very open to hearing ideas from others in the community as to how she can best promote the art of poetry, cultivate poetic literacy and encourage the reading and writing of poems.
Following her win, Nickerson shared her tentative plans for bringing poetry to the people:
- ‘House Concert Poetry’, providing an “audible odyssey of readings with various hosts,”
- Poetry in the Park – sharing and promoting “lunch poetry” with a picnic,
- Elder College poetry workshop to “explore the landscape of our youth, our early beginnings and the beauty that sourced our lives,”
- Poetic Assembly – a multi-media presentation to inspire young authors, accompanied by lessons plans for teachers of elementary grades to follow up with writing exercises,
- Poem in your Pocket – William S. Burroughs-inspired workshop where participants create three-line poems on blank business cards, using newspaper clippings,
- Bon Anniversaire – celebration of famous poet’s birthdays e.g. Burns, Browning and Poe. “Come dressed as your favourite character,”
- Regular contributions to Valley newspapers/magazines with poems and essays on “the importance of poetry in this polarized time, the art and science of poetry (quantum alphabet soup), why everyone is a poet, how poetry can help you become more of a risk-taker and why that is important, and much more,” and
- Poetic presence at various community events
“My ideas are endless,” says Nickerson. “But I’m also open to suggestions from the community.”
If you would like to invite Natalie to participate in your event, or write a commemorative poem, or otherwise practice or perform poetically, we invite you to complete a booking request!