Local bards are searching for a new kind of wordsmith to join their ranks: The call is out for Victoria's first youth poet lau-reate.
"I think it's a way to bring the youth voice to the public and it's also a legitimate channel - or something that's seen as legitimate - for youth to engage other youth," said performance poet Jeremy Loveday, who is co-ordinating the position.
The youth poet laureate will perform at selected civic events, such as city council and youth council meetings. He or she will also develop and complete a project that engages youth through poetry, with the support of the City of Victoria Youth Council, as well as a poet mentor - in this case, Loveday, who is Victoria's 2012 Poetry Slam Champion and director of youth outreach for the Victoria Poetry Project.
"Because it's the pilot project, there will really be room for them to shape the role through their vision for the position," he said.
Loveday said the new laureate may even be the first of its kind in the country, although it's difficult to confirm.
"As far as I know, it is," he said. "I've got connections in most cities in Canada and I put the call out and asked everyone. No one has heard of anyone else."
Several cities across the United States already have youth in the position and new cities continue to join the trend - Oakland, California, announced its first, two weeks ago.
"I really do think this is part of a large movement and that's one of our goals," he said. "To create a model here that is exportable and that is sustainable."
Victoria city councillors have expressed support for the position, and the city's youth council will assume hosting duties. Il Ter-razzo, the restaurant owned by city councillor Shellie Gudgeon and her husband, Mike, has donated $2,500 in seed money - more than two-thirds of the firstyear budget. The city's (adult) poet laureate, Janet Rogers, has also pledged her support.
"Any opportunity that arises that allows new voices to be heard within the city - I'm all about it," Rogers said.
"I will lend whatever experience I have to the work that's ahead of us."
Youth 21 and younger are eligible to apply for the position, which takes effect Jan. 1 for a one-year term. Interested participants should submit applications to email@example.com between Oct. 15 and Nov. 7, including:
? Three original poems (no more, no less) in any format (typed, audio, video, etc). If you are submitting audio or video, include a transcription of the poems you submit.
? A letter of intent including an outline of your vision for the youth poet laureate position and three sample ideas of projects that you would undertake as youth poet laureate. If you are chosen for the position you will have the freedom to change your project ideas or brainstorm a new project with your mentor or peers.
? A rÃ©sumÃ© outlining your community engagement experience (related school, work, or volunteer experience)
Loveday, Rogers and youth council co-ordinator Kluane Buser-Rivet will judge the submissions, and finalists will be invited for an interview during the last two weeks of November. The youth laureate receives a $1,500 honorarium and $1,000 in project funding.
"It's amazing because the quality of youth poetry in Victoria is just so mind-blowing," said Loveday. "And to have an official recognition of that is such a positive thing."
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