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.

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.

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  • Poem Read for National Poetry Month Proclamation- March 2017 

    The King of Glenbrook North    

    First my parent’s garden
    its Eden of children’s parties   
    filthy knees

    perpetual summer ecosystem,
    of sugared up boys
    microclimate of budded hormones     
    punctured soccer balls.

    Then the garden I tended as a student.
    Industrial grade carrots,
    cannonball sized cabbages
    between which my fiancé Michelle    
    posed
    in her wedding dress, netted herself
    in front of the unsteady flesh
    of the neighbours fence-
    her peasant’s hands, bony and white
    from the lack of a ring
    that even then, I knew, I
    was to never acquire for her. 

    Then this garden I have now- small
    secret, suburban

    each corner
    a continent overcrowded with trees
    Laburnum      Pine      Magnolia
    pockets of Spring light    
    that only I have seen-
    uncharted silences in the raspberry canes:

    bordered by a pelt of rough cut lawn
    shimmying itself shyly     
    towards the back of the house   

    squared up    
    to the edge of the known world. 

     

    Poem Read at the May Day Gala- May 24th 2017

    May Day- New Westminster
    2017

    This Maypole, middle world axis
    for the earth to turn
    lighthouse inside us, hormonal summer vision
    bringer of buds, idolatry, difference
    for us to wrap ourselves, pull the ribbons tight
    climb back in the box of who we are.

    Twist and turn, step around each other, avoid each other
    each in our way, our role, individual, team
    learning to be, to welcome it back
    what is bigger than us, this god, or gods
    law of nature. law of science
    what it is we are, that we cannot know
    maybe do not need to know

    whatever that it is that gives us everything
    owes us nothing
    life in its cruelty, beauty, indifference, magnificence. 

    We watch our children dance
    these ones that will replace us
    each hand held to the next like a thirst in need of
    water.
    Breath in their joy, charge on it
    in the knowledge that they understand, know a little now
    of what we are, where we come from

    that whatever world they make
    what we give them now will not be in vain

    that in this dance
    whichever way they run they will be back
    meet in the middle, weaved, stitched, more complete. 

     

    Poem Written for Canada Day- July 2017  Canada Day
    New Westminster, 2017

    This City will not die.
    The torn moon stitched tight
    fire swept backwards into
    the pocket of an Edwardian morning
    river rooted around the sky into
    a tree of smoke.

    Our forefathers could hate
    left the hard stumps of the excluded
    damned.

    They could also build
    brought us the lung lines of our streets
    the verdant foliage of the
    collective head
    schools, churches, temples, the
    knife sharp shopping of our being

    the fields and factories of tomorrow
    palaces of the nine to five
    hard shipping of Pacific
    bleached, bloodied in Panama sun
    Atlantic salt

    our people
    sprinting from the River edge
    multiplying in grids.

    Own this history, what has been done
    has yet to come

    no barrel bombs or gas

    take
    the barbed wire from around the heart
    then all that is left of us is love.       

  • What Canada Means to Me

    Explore and celebrate our multicultural city with New Westminster Poet Laureate Alan Hill. Discover the power of the written word as a way of sharing experiences and what being Canadian means to you.  Realize a new poetic talent or develop skills you have. Find exciting new ways of telling and sharing your story, meet new friends and reconnect with people in your community.  No previous writing experience is needed. This workshop series is part of the City of New Westminster's Canada 150 celebrations. 

    Dates and times for this workshop series will be announced shortly. For information, please contact .

  • 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.

     

     

    THE UNSUNG HEROES

    (Commissioned for the Civic Dinner Feb 26, 2013)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

    Outside the New West courthouse

    There stands a bronze statue;

    Of a man bound by integrity,

    Steadfast, strong and true.

    In 1858 he came to shape our history,

    A man of dedication,

    Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie.

     

    And just like this great gentleman

    You’ve answered duty’s call

    To serve in your community

    For the greater good of all.

    You give your time and effort

    On advisory boards, committees.

    You are the very heart and soul

    Of our Royal City!

    You’re the citizens’ advocates;

    The guardians of progress;

    The underlying spirit

    Of our City’s success. 

    You create a better tomorrow,

    Exercising conscience.

    With service and commitment

    You are making a difference.

    Tonight we’re gathered here

    To honour and to thank you

    For your care and dedication;

    And though there’ll be no statue

    You are the grass roots soldiers

    Filled with civic passion.

    You are the unsung heroes

    When all is said and done.

    You are the very heart and soul

    Of our Royal City!

     

    THE FALLEN SOLDIERS

    (Commissioned and read at Remembrance Day 2012)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

    Freedom bought at such a cost;

    The fallen soldiers loved ones lost.

     

    Distant and so far away,

    On battlefields the soldiers lay;

    What a grievous price to pay.

     

    Words alone cannot portray

    This debt we owe but can’t repay.

    We honour the fallen soldiers today.

     

    But for the grace of God

    Go yours or mine

    To fight freedom’s battles

    On the front line.

     

    But for the grace of God

    Go you or I

    With a broken heart

    And tear filled eye.

     

    To the sons and daughters

    Who lost their lives…

    We salute you. 

    Your legacy lives. 

    Your memory survives.

     

    Freedom bought at such a cost;

    The fallen soldiers, loved ones lost.

     

    We wear the blood red poppy,

    Lest we forget.

     

    THE YOUNG GIRLS OF MAY

    (Commissioned poem © 2014 read at May Day Banquet)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    The young girls of May

    Pristine, beautiful and elegant;

    Cheeks polished to a rosy shine,

    Eyes sparkling like fine wine,

    Are shining

    In this, their moment in the sun.

     

    The warm caress of history

    Casts its spell of enchantment

    Onto the May Day Ceremony

    And the young girls of May,

    Setting their hearts aglow.

     

    The May Queen

    And her Royal Suite

    Hold court in the Royal City

    Decorating the day

    With windblown wishes

    And perfumed dreams.

     

    May Day arrives on little cat feet

    And slides away on sleepy smiles.

     

    It comes and goes in a heartbeat

    But its echo remains forever

    In the hearts and souls

    Of the young girls of May.

     

    MAY  DAY  MAGIC

    (Commissioned for 2012 May Day Banquet)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    Apple blossoms dress the trees

    And kiss the morning dew

    On this day of celebration

    In the Royal City.

    Today will shine in wisps of white

    And sparkle bright with crowns

    As our May Queen and entourage

    Grace this day of joy.

     

    The Maypole dancers ring the pole.

    Music fills the air.

    A feeling of camaraderie and people everywhere.

    Queens Park shines and comes alive,

    With pomp and ceremony on this special day,

    To see our May Queen crowned.

     

    The Royal Knights, a sight to see,

    Tuxedos and dress vests;

    These proud guards of chivalry

    Stand by their lady’s side.

    The May Queen and her Royal Suite,

    True grace and elegance, decorate each May Day

    In tiaras, gowns and crowns.

     

    The Honorary Banquet,

    A feast fit for a Queen;

    The Mayor’s regal remarks,

    The Royal Lancer Dance,

    And as the celebration ends

     

    The scent of apple blossoms;

    The sparkle of spring dew;

    The soft touch of a white glove;

    A young girl’s magic smile.

     

    The flavour of this day and night

    Indelibly imprinted….

     

    THESE BRAVE HEARTS

    (Commissioned poem for Remembrance Day ceremonies 2011)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    Courageously they marched forth into Hell

    Amidst the gunfire, mortar shells, and death;

    The brave hearts left there where their bodies fell

    What name was on their lips at their last breath?

    They have our admiration and respect

    These architects of freedom; heroes all,

    As teardrops fall old memories reflect

    The brave young hearts that answered duty’s call.

    They gave their lives to keep the hounds at bay,

    These saviors still remembered through the years.

    A somber day, this day, Remembrance Day;

    A day of courage, sacrifice and tears.

     

    To these brave hearts we owe an unpaid debt;

    The blood red poppy worn, “Lest We Forget”.

     

    A SPECIAL MAGIC

    (Commissioned poem for 145th May Day Celebration 2016)

              © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    There’s a special feeling in the air

                        spilling over everywhere;

    a vibrant mood that permeates

                        a history that resonates.

     

     

              There’s a special magic to this day

    we love to celebrate each May.

     

     

    At the May Day Festival,

    the Civic Dinner and the ball,

    the Royal Suite, the May Day Queen

    and Maypole Dancers set the scene.

     

     

    These young girls and boys of May

    are dressed up in such grand array;

    handsome boys and girls so pretty

    decorating our fair city.

     

     

    Glory, pomp and history,

                        dancing, rhyme and melody;

                                  a breath of fresh air every year,

                          eliciting a smile and tear.

     

     

         There’s a special magic in this day

                       we love to celebrate each May.

     

     

    THE DEBT

    (Commissioned and read at the 2010 Remembrance Day Ceremonies

    with the Duke of Westminster, the keynote speaker)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

     

    We wear the blood red poppy

    Lest we forget.

     

    Warfare, bombs, shrapnel, torn bodies,

    Threat of foreign occupation,

    Our flag raised, unfurled;

    Sound of bugle and drum;

    Our sons and daughters

    Called to battle,

    Fighting, in distant lands

    To keep our true north strong and free.

     

    Veterans and raw recruits

    Fighting, laughing, crying, dying;

    Side by side, adrift,

    On a bloodied tide of bodies.

     

    On Armistice Day

    We remember

    Those who stood tall

    For freedom;

    Freedom, bought with blood,

    Sweat, death and tears;

    An indelible debt

    Impossible to repay.

     

    We honour these heroes;

    These architects of liberty;

    These fallen saviors of freedom;

    Today, tomorrow and forever.

     

    We wear the blood red poppy

    Lest we forget.

     

     

    THE ANVIL CENTRE

    (Commissioned poem read at the opening of Anvil Centre September 14, 2014)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    In the heart of downtown

    She stands proud and tall;

    A community gathering place for all;

    The Anvil Centre shaping and molding

    Arts, drama, poetry, dreams unfolding.

     

    A theatre, state of the art in all ways.

    Recitals, performances, conferences, plays;

    Artists, actors, writers, musicians

    Dressing her halls with creative expressions.

     

    Our City’s fingerprints nestled inside

    Museums and Archives on history’s tide

     

    The Anvil Centre…

    Bold in her architectural face;

    Truly a landmark to celebrate

    The meeting of minds in a cultural zone;

    The Anvil Centre – New Westminster milestone.

     

    WAIT FOR ME DADDY

    © 2014 ~ Read at Metal Sculpture Dedication at Hyack Square

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    In a heartbeat,

    so near

    yet so far,

    the separation,

    once impending,

    becoming reality.

     

    He’s going away.

             

    The line of soldiers

    march down the street

    toward a foreign land.

     

     ‘Don’t go Daddy.

    Wait for me Daddy.’

     

    Too young to understand

    the meaning of war,

    he stretches out his tiny fingers

    to grasp his Daddy’s hand;

    to hold on tight;

    to make him stay.

     

    ‘Don’t go Daddy.

    Wait for me Daddy.’

     

    In a heartbeat,

    so near

    yet so far ,

    his Daddy fades from view…

     

    He’s gone away.

     

    THESE SPECIAL DAYS OF MAY

    (Commissioned for May Day Banquet 2015)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    May …

              A special texture to the days;

                       A satin flow to the nights.

             

    May …

              Filled with warm gentle breezes

                       That wrap themselves around you

              Like a gossamer blanket of dreams.

     

    AND …

              Sparkling inside this blanket of dreams,

                       Innocence coming of age,

                                 Climbing out of childhood’s cradle.

                       Skipping through star-dusted minutes and hours,

                                 The May Queen and her Royal Suite,

                       The Royal Knights and May Day dancers

                                 Decorating a city tradition

    again and again; again and again.

     

    May Day in the Royal City,

    So many memories:

                       Rehearsals, Speeches, Parades, Banquets.

    Years become windblown pages,

                       Crowns handed down throughout the ages.

     

    These special days of May

                       Ebb and flow,

                                 On waves of enchantment,

                                          In the everlasting sea

                                 Of New Westminster history.

     

                       May Day in the Royal City;

                                 A time honoured tradition.

                                         

    May … 

                                                              It never cease to be.

     

    ARCHITECTS OF LIBERTY

    (Commissioned poem Remembrance Day 2015)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    They live on in our memory

    Those architects of liberty,

    Who travelled to a foreign land

    To serve our country on command.

     

    They set their boots on foreign shores

    To fight for freedom by the scores.

    The gunfire echoed overhead.

    Men fell wounded; some fell dead.

     

    Embattled soldiers in the Corp.

    Will tell you.

    War is hell…

    And hell is war.

     

    Reverberating through the years:

    The emptiness and the tears;

    The stain of anguish and bloodshed;

    The silent bodies of the dead.

             

    They gave their lives to keep us free,

    Those architects of liberty.

     

    We wear the blood red poppy...

    Lest We Forget.

     

    CANADIAN KALEIDOSCOPE

    (Commissioned for Canada Day 2011)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    Canada, the land of the strong and the free,

    Is filled with lush beauty and bold pageantry.

    The tree lined shores of the five Great Lakes;

    The Yukon gold rush, the miner’s stakes;

     

    The jagged rocks and harsh craggy shore

    Of Newfoundland and Labrador;

    New Brunswick’s famous magnetic hill;

    Nova Scotia’s storms and Atlantic swill;

     

    Prince Edward Island’s red soiled ground;

    Quebec, where French accents still resound;

    Ontario, the Canadian Parliament’s base;

    Manitoba, the proud Cree and Metis race;

     

    Saskatchewan nights painted with a soft kiss

    And the true north’s Aurora Borealis;

    Alberta, Lake Louse, Banff National Park,

    Sparkling jewels, each a shining landmark;

     

    British Columbia, Rocky Mountains high;

    Waterfalls whisper as Eagles fly by.

    Chilly nights in the Northwest Territories;

    Wolves howl at the moon and whisper ghost stories.

     

    This land is ours from sea to shining sea.

    Each one of us is very fortunate to be

    Residing in this great land of liberty

    Helping to shape Canada’s history.

     

    Peer through this Canadian Kaleidoscope

    Stand strong, proud and tall with your heart full of hope

    This brilliant creation splashed on nature’s page,

    This glorious country is your heritage.

     

    MOMENTS

    (Commissioned poem for May Day Banquet © 2013)

    © Candice James, Poet Laureate

     

    Wishing, hoping, dreaming

    Anticipation and emotion,

    Excitement, nerves, anxiety

     

    Time ripples by

    In slow motion frames

    Splashing into this moment

     

    Suddenly the day arrives

    May Day 2013 in the Royal City

     

    Organdy dreams

    And golden smiles

    Sparkling eyes

    And fluttering hearts

    Young girls

    Spun into young ladies

    In the twinkling of an eye

     

    How beautiful they look

    In their flowing gowns of white

    Their perfumed hopes and dreams

     

    The May Queen, Her Royal Suite

    And the Royal Knights

    Infusing the atmosphere

    With windblown wishes

    And surreal sighs

     

    This day and these moments

    Will resonate forever

    In your hearts and minds

    And shine throughout the years

    Star dust and diamonds

    In a black satin sky….

    Incredible, indelible moments!