Writer’s Studio instructor appointed Vancouver’s newest Poet Laureate

November 25, 2021
Photo by Rebecca Bissett

Congratulations to Writer’s Studio instructor Fiona Tinwei Lam, who was recently named Vancouver’s poet laureate for 2022–2024. Also known as “the people’s poet,” the poet laureate is responsible for raising poetry’s visibility in the city of Vancouver through community outreach projects and events. 

In her new role, Lam will kick off the first stage of her legacy project in 2022: a poetry contest aimed at inspiring youth and adults to write poems about significant historical, cultural and ecological sites on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. She will then host a second poetry video and film contest for students in 2023.

“I feel deeply honoured that the jury recognized my community outreach efforts over many years and unanimously supported my vision and project,” she says. “I’m hoping that the poems and videos generated from both contests will educate and engage diverse segments of the public about Vancouver’s fascinating history, while fostering the writing, reading and dissemination of poetry.”

Lam says she’s already rolling up her sleeves and getting to work: “I feel a bit like a gardener right now, tilling the soil and planting the bulbs so that everyone’s poetic potential can bloom after a very challenging year and a half.”

Lam’s previous honours include being shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award and being selected for BC’s Poetry in Transit initiative three times. She is the author of three poetry collections and a children’s book, and has collaborated on award-winning poetry videos that have screened internationally. Her work appears in over 40 anthologies.