Flesher was clearly excited to get going in his new role.
“My mission is to create more opportunities for more people to experience more poetry,” he said. “Old and young, folks all sorts, in all the nooks and crannies of our valley. I will stir the pot and stoke the fire, bang the tune and strum the lyre.
“I will be available to write and perform poems for special occasions, perhaps your next funeral or court case could be tweaked with a fresh Limerick.
“I look forward to serving the Valley in a new and tasty way. With fresh and zesty verse and rhymes served in a lush bouquet.”
Flesher impressed the poet laureate judges with more than the words he has written.
“His exuberance about life and his love of the ability of language to express that exuberance,” was what caught the attention of jury member Anne Cumming, Chair of the North Island College English Department.
“Words don’t just come out of his mouth, but spring from every part of his body. He puts himself out there and connects with his listeners,” she said. “He doesn’t just connect with listeners; he pulls them right in close.”
For Eric ‘tHe RaD’ Ettinger, a rapper with Butterfinger Bombsquad, judging on the panel “has once again revealed the Comox Valley to me to be place of vast and diverse talents, as well as a community eager to dissolve boundaries.”
The Arts Council’s ‘big tent’ concept for the Poet Laureate Search invited submissions from songwriters, rappers, and hip-hop MCs as well as traditional page poets.
“The jury members were very thoughtful, insightful, open-minded and collaborative in their discussions as they came to a consensus agreement,” said Arts Council Jamie Bowman. “All the entrants, but especially the finalists, showed real courage, creativity and community showed through this process.”
Flesher will have a two-year term as Poet Laureate.
So who is Kevin Flesher?
His application went like this:
Someone nominated me for the position, and when I looked into it, I thought that this could be something that I might be a good fit for.
I am a poet and an advocate for poetry and I can make things happen and get people involved and engaged.
I have been writing songs and singing them on my own or with bands since 1992, but I really got interested in poetry in the mid 90’s when there was a spoken word renaissance and I would often perform in cafes and at poetry gatherings. My inspiration came from others on the scene at the time like Scott Wickam, Phil Jagger, the Live Poet Soc and many others.
Inspiration is just an itch that needs to be scratched. Sometimes I get itchy.
I have organized poetry events in the past, including Haiku Night in Canada and Leonard Cohen readings.
As poet laureate, I would initiate more poetry happening more often in more places bring more people together. perhaps hosting contests and readings by valley residents of all ages with different themes at different locations. I could help create a climate and conditions where people feel inspired to write and share their poetry.
I could initiate contests and traditions and events that bring together people of all ages and walks of life.
Some event ideas include poems by and inspired by Rudyard Kipling and TS Eliot at the Filberg Lodge. Poems by and inspired by Shel Silverstein at the library. Poems by and inspired by Leonard Cohen at the Elks Hall.
I already have been hosting a Robbie Burns day bash for six years at the Cumberland Hotel and inflicting poetry on patrons.
A Haiku showdown, with sake, sushi and samurais at a Japanese restaurant.
A spring celebration poetry contest held in a mountain glade.
a salmon poetry celebration held at the fish hatchery.
Have poem of the week readings on local radio and in the papers.
creating and reciting poems for special occasions, events and ceremonies.
I would like to see people creating, sharing and connecting through poetry.
His inaugural poem, which he shared when he opened for Shane Koyczan:
What an honour, what a treat, with just a schnick of pain.
Opening for Shane, yes I have done it before,
But ‘twas not from high upon a thrust, I was sitting there on the floor.
I listened in bourgeois confort, the syllables and verse.
The emphatic declarations! The hushed pauses, the oubursts.
He dwelled on childhood’s idylls, to which I could relate. I relaxed and then let down my guard, by then it was too late!
This tiny heart, clenched in this chest, began to sniff around, like and old Tom cat with a missing ear, who’d scraped out of the pound.
Empty as a paper bag, my grandma filled with awesome-
Karate chops of empathy be-stirred a latent blossom
Then, oh then my dear good friends, thru Shane’s artistic power
That tiny bud did thus unfurl into a glorious flower
Those shameless open flowers bravely boast their virile might
And many other open hearts were mingling here that night
I felt amongst the others here a solidarity in pain,
For we, like buds before spring’s sun, had opened up for Shane.
And you tonight, may sit there tight and vow, ‘Oh no, not me, I won’t succumb to something so dumb as Koyczan’s poetry’
But rest assured, once you’ve heard, you’ll never be the same.
For you and me will all agree, we’ve opened up for Shane!
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Education from University of Alberta, and a Theatre Arts Diploma from Grant MacEwan College.
- Outstanding achievement in Education award from the Canadian Museum Association for creating educational programs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
- Overall Excellence in Interpretation Award from InterpsCan for writing and performing educational programs at Kananaskis Park.
- A six year old girl once told her dad that I was her second favorite musician after, ‘that deaf guy’ Beethoven.
- I travelled to the Himalayas for a year when I was 21. I spent a lot of time in monasteries and ashrams and flop houses. When the Dalai Lama held a ten day long tantric Kalachakra empowerment initiation ceremony in Ladakh, I attended, along with a few other westerners. On the eighth day of the ritual, they had some performances. I was asked to lead a choir representing western civilization singing in front of 30,000 monks and nuns. (really!)
- I was selected by public contest to be the official town crier of Edmonton. I have hosted and DJ’d and MC’d many events in this capacity in front of crowds of all sorts.
- When the Cumberland Community Schools Society, the Forest Society, the soccer league, Mount Washington special events or the Pole Fitness people need an MC for their event to get the crowd involved and engaged, they get me to help out.
- Even though I am bold and shameless, I am a sensitive and meek creature who cares deeply for everyone.
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The 2015-2017 Comox Valley Poet Laureate Program was supported by: