Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley is organizing a competition to create a booklet of Vancouver Island poetry. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library seeks submissions for poetry contest

Winning entries to be part of booklet released for National Poetry Month

The Nanaimo Harbourfront Library is putting together a poetry booklet for this year’s National Poetry Month and it’s looking for poems to fill the pages.

This month the library announced it is accepting submissions for its Poem in Your Pocket contest. Poets from across the Vancouver Island Regional Library area, which includes Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii, have until March 5 to submit one poem to the competition, with winners being included in the booklet.

“Judging poetry, it’s always somewhat subjective,” said Harbourfront librarian April Ripley, who organized the contest. “But we’re just going to be picking our favourites as far as ones that we think are highest quality and that we like the best.”

Poem in Your Pocket Day, happening in April, is an annual program organized by the Academy of American Poets. The League of Canadian Poets describes it as “an international movement that encourages folks to centre poetry within their daily interactions.”

Ripley said the event is meant to encourage people to share poetry with each other.

“It’s something that I know branches have done before, giving out poetry, but this year I especially wanted to solicit some local content and really focus on the local writers,” she said. “So I thought a contest was a good way to get people’s attention and get people to send their stuff in to us so that we can highlight it.”

Ripley said the library typically holds in-branch events like poetry readings during poetry month, and the Poem in Your Pocket contest is a kind of “substitute” for the programming they are unable to offer this year due to COVID-19.

The contest is open to poets of all levels of experience and Ripley asks even unpublished poets to put their work forward.

“We want to focus on local content and encouraging people who are just starting out as well,” Ripley said. “So this is a great opportunity just get it out there and get a feel for the process of submitting.”

The poetry booklets will be available at all VIRL branches and as a digital download this April, National Poetry Month. For more information about the contest, click here.

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