Poetry from Nanaimo’s first Poet Laureate

At the Monday, November 18, 2013 Nanaimo council meeting the City introduced its first poet laureate, Naomi Beth Wakan. The position is for three years and pays $3000. Ms. Wakan was introduced by  Mr. Bob Kuhn, Manager Recreation and Culture.  He didn’t reveal the selection process but explained that the poet came with very high accolades.

Ms. Naomi Wakan prefaced her two poems with an introduction:

I hope to live out my term as Poet Laureate, I am 82 years old and from Gabriola.  Currently, I am writing my own memoirs.  So here is a poem about Nanaimo’s memoirs. I’m reading a book on Nanaimo’s history; I didn’t know anything about it before.

If Nanaimo wrote its memoirs
when a city writes its memoirs it is no different from you or I writing ours
we tend to rest on the wreaths of glory
as the city would on the opening of the new mine or the movement of shipping
times for dancing at the waterfront or gathering in the park
When a city writes its memoirs
it comes as it does with our distortion of fair ground mirrors
the trimmings of a topiary bush and all the tricks of looking backwards places
When a city writes its memoirs
it is as if it is drawing up a ledger
here red ink
here black ink and here a blurring of the two
yet a reckoning must be done as we too must evaluate our years
and when it is no lingering in the nostalgia of good times
or the festering bitterness of regrets
no, then is the time to turn a fresh page
a page full of promise as to where the city and we might go next

“I like to read my thank you poem so I can catch a few more people in my net”

Thank you friends
Thank you Poetry Gabriola and the League of poets for keeping the wolf at the door
and the Sounder for touting such writing skills as that I have
and to the CBC for allowing my voice to occasionally get on the air
and to the folks who come to my workshops for they help pay the mortgage
and the folks who come to my readings who keep me alert so I that I can keep them alert
and thank you to the folks who buy my books
and even the folks who don’t buy my books and who borrow them from the library
and to the folks who stand around in book stores and read my books and put them back on the shelf with the face outwards, they too do me a service
and thanks to my twin who is often the butt of my wit
and to my daughter who lays out my books when she feels like it or when I visit
and although I have to remind her that I had to change her diapers whether I felt like it or not
and to my son who calls on birthdays and the day after Mothers Day with a few words
and thanks to my husband who criticizes many aspects of my being thus keeping me in the here and now when I tend to stray to other times he points out the typos and other details like the fact that he prefers the toilet paper put back so that it rolls from the front rather from the back
and thank you to my lucky stars, Cancer what ever Cancer rising
and my moon in Virgo and from the stars it is a mere hop skip and jump to
thanking the galaxies at the ends of the universe where apparently the big bangs is to be followed by the big crunch meanwhile providing me with just the right amount of oxygen and just the correct degree of gravity to allow me to sit on the deck musing on life
and writing poetry of a modest significance.

It is unclear how many poems she will be writing each year for the City of Nanaimo. It is curious they chose someone who lives on Gabriola Island and not in Nanaimo.  Could this be so there won’t be poems forthcoming that complain and moan about about rising taxes or an unreceptive council?