Tofino Poet Laureate Joanna Streetly. (Photo - Erin Linn McMullan)

Joanna Streetly named Tofino’s first Poet Laureate

“She is known to go for the difficult and challenging subjects.”

West Coast writer Joanna Streetly is coming up roses.

Her new book, ‘Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast’, is a BC Bestseller and on April 30, at the tail end of National Poetry Month, she was appointed the honour of Tofino Poet Laureate.

The Poet Laureate program is a new iniatiative supported by District of Tofino Council, the Tofino Arts Council, the Pacific Rim Arts Society (PRAS), and the Clayoquot Writers Group.

Streetly’s scope of service includes engaging with schools, managing a social media account, and of course, creating poetry.

She will be paid a $5,000 honorarium for a one-year term. PRAS president, Mark Penney, thinks it’s healthy to recognize poetry and literature as an art form.

“We are enamoured with the idea of self expression for the community and finding a voice,” he said.

Penney told the Westerly the selection process was not an easy one, and that Streetly was elected based on integrity and not superficial appeal.

“She is known to go for the difficult and challenging subjects.”

During a phone interview, Streetly confirmed she had several profound topics under consideration.

“For poets, there are often things that bother you. You know, they rumble around in your head for a really long time and eventually they need out,” she said.

One of the projects she would like to do with the school students revolves around how life was in the Tofino before the road was built. Another subject she is fascinated about is the soundscape of the region.

“It would be a video poem that will involve local poets. We would include natural sound and the newer sounds that are creeping in.”

Streetly said she was also quite interested in interviewing people who cleaned up the last oil spill on the Coast and get first hand experiences.

“I think the role of the poet laureate is not so much to be elevated above any other poet, but more to reach out to the community and elicit poetry from the community that is already here.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the program is encouraged to visit: tofinopoetlaureate.ca.

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