Poet Laureate

New Westminster’s Poet Laureate acts as a literary ambassador for the City of New Westminster and the community; advocating for literacy and the literary arts and helping to raise the status of poetry, language and the arts in the everyday consciousness of New Westminster residents. The Poet Laureate also develops meaningful engagement opportunities that enrich the lives of residents and visitors to the City.

Subscribe to Citypage Online or follow New Westminster Art Services on Twitter for opportunities to participate in projects involving the Poet Laureate.

  • Poet Elliott Slinn was named New Westminster’s fifth (and youngest) Poet Laureate in June 2021, actively beginning his tenure in August. Slinn was born and raised in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood of New Westminster and still resides in the Royal City today. He has performed at the 2015 Lululemon Leadership Conference, a LUSH product launch and for both the Vancouver and New Westminster Arts Council. Slinn, in addition to being a poet, is also a singer-songwriter whose first single, It’s You, was featured on Apple Music’s “Hot Tracks” list and in BeatRoute magazine. Slinn’s poetry and lyrics focus on the existential events of our day-to-day existence. As one article noted, “the lyrics are straightforward romance bordering on Sufism. Slinn’s sparse vocals let the poetry of the lyrics take center stage.”

    Slinn’s work has been described as immediate and accessible, as he aims to transform his personal tale into a shared experience. He is currently working on his first book of poetry and aims to record more music in the future.

    You can find excerpts of his work on his Instagram account: @elliott_slinn

    New Westminster Poet Laureate, Alan Hill (2017-2020) in partnership with the City’s Arts Services Department published A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster which highlights the work of 35 local poets all working with the poetic form of the “poetry postcard.”  The intention of this collection was to highlight and explore physical location and its emotional and cultural significance specific to New Westminster residents. 
    Starting in June of 2019, Hill workshopped the project with a variety of community partners including: Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Royal City Literary Arts Society,  Douglas College, New Westminster Secondary School, Burnaby Central Secondary School and New Westminster Public Library.  Afterwards, a call was put out to the New West community for submissions for the book.  With the help of a selection committee of local literary professionals, the Poet Laureate curated and edited the submitted works and designer Johanna Bartels began work on the layout and cover.  Images include photographs from Bartels and the participating poets as well as selected maps and archival images from the New Westminster Museum and Archives.
    To purchase your copy of this vibrant, multicultural and multi-dimensional collection of poetry postcards please contact Cultural Facility Clerk, JoAnn Tosh: jtosh@newwestcity.ca or (604-527-4640, press 2).
    Books are $12 (tax included).
  • Poet Alan Hill was chosen in February 2017 as New Westminster’s fourth Poet Laureate. Mr. Hill is a resident of the Glenbrook North neighbourhood of New Westminster. He is co-manager of the Poetry New West reading series and has been a regular on the Vancouver reading circuit for over ten years. He has been published in North America and Europe in numerous print and online journals. Publishing highlights in Canada include having poetry included in Event, CV2, Canadian Literature, Vancouver Review, Antigonish Review, Sub-Terrain, Poetry is Dead, Quills and Cascadia Review. He has also published two collections of poetry, ‘The Upstairs Country’ (Silverbow 2012) and ‘The Broken Word’ (Silverbow 2013). In 2007 he featured in the ‘Rocksalt’ anthology (Mother Tongue), the first BC wide anthology of poetry for over thirty years. Alan immigrated to New Westminster from the UK after meeting, and being sponsored by, his Vietnamese-Canadian wife while working in Botswana.
  • Candice James

    Candice James is a professional writer, poet, visual artist, musician, singer/songwriter, workshop facilitator and book reviewer. She completed her second three year term as Poet Laureate in June 2016 and was appointed Poet Laureate Emerita November 2016. She is board advisor to Royal City Literary Arts Society and director of the Pacific Festival of the Book. She is founder and past president of Royal City Literary Arts Society; past president of the Federation of British Columbia Writers; and past director of SpoCan. She is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She also is founder of: Poetry New Westminster; Poetry In The Park; Poetic Justice and Slam Central. She has been keynote speaker at Word On The Street, and Black Dot Roots Cultural Collective and has judged the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and Jessamy Stursberg Youth Poet Award for the League of Canadian Poets. She is the recipient of Vancouver Pandora’s Collective Citizenship Award and recipient of the Bernie Legge Artist/Cultural award.

    Candice is author of thirteen books of poetry with five different publishers: A Split In The Water (Fiddlehead 1979); Inner Heart – A Journey (Silver Bow 2010); Bridges and Clouds (Silver Bow 2011); Midnight Embers – a Book of Sonnets (Libros Libertad 2012); Shorelines – a Book of Villanelles (Silver Bow 2013);   Ekphrasticism – Painted Words (Silver Bow 2013); Purple Haze (Libros Libertad 2014) A Silence of Echoes (Silver Bow 2014); Merging Dimensions (Ekstasis Editions 2015); Short Shots (Silver Bow 2016) and Colours of India (Xpress Publisher, India 2016; The Water Poems (Ekstasis Editions 2017).

    Candice has featured at many venues both civic and public and appeared on television and radio.  She has presented workshops, mentored writers; written prefaces and reviews, published articles, and short stories. Her poetry has appeared in many international anthologies and her poems have been translated into Arabic, Italian, Bengali and Farsi. Her artwork has appeared in Duende at Goddard College of Fine Arts, Vermont, USA.

  • Don Benson served as the City’s second Poet Laureate from 1999-2007. Don has been a long-standing community leader in sports and culture.   He founded the Queens Park Youth Soccer Association, initiated the city’s successful bid for the Canada Summer Games, and co-founded the Royal City Musical Theatre Society. Don is widely published, having completed a number of works of prose and narrative verse, including New Westminster: 150 Years of Traditions. 
  • Edna Anderson was the City’s first Poet Laureate, serving from 1998-1999. She was instrumental in developing a number of projects related to the history of Queensborough, including the Queensborough Community Centre Historical Mural Millennium Project and four historical collages. Edna was an avid writer and poet, with published works including Queensborough Memories, Elizabeth Irving, Rhyme of Time and Queensborough Stories. She received the honour of Poet Laureate Emeritus and Citizen of the Year for the City of New Westminster, as well as the Governor General's Millennium Medal and Queen's Jubilee Medal. Edna passed away in 2011 at age 92.