Former Poet Laureate: Candice James (2010-2016)

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.




(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!



(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.



(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.



(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….



(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”.



(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.




(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.




(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.



© 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.



(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.



          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.



(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.



(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.



(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!