April is National Poetry Month in Canada. with the theme, Poetry City. Nanaimo is definitely a poetry city. We even have a poetry laureate: Naomi Beth Wakan. I’m going to start off National Poetry Month by going to see her on Gabriola Island. (I’ll write a future blog about her.)

Naomi invites residents of the Nanaimo Regional District to write poems and send them to her for possible inclusion in a monthly column in the Nanaimo Daily News. A pair of anonymous poet judges will choose a poem a month and Naomi Wakan will comment on the chosen poem. A great way for everyone to write poetry while appreciating our very own poetry city: Nanaimo.

For more information and guidelines, email: callingallpoets@nanaimo.ca. (I haven’t been able to access the very lengthy website address.)

Here are some of the events that you can choose from:

On Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 1 p.m., the Roaming Poets (David Fraser, Leanne McIntosh, Andrew Brown and Pat Smekal) will be reading their poems in front of the Vault Café at the corner of Wallace and Albert.  If it’s raining, the poets will be inside. You’re welcome to bring along your poems to read too as there will be an open mike. All four poets have published their poetry far and wide. David is the co-founder of the WordStorm Society of the Arts. You can read more here.

On Sunday, April 6 at 1 p.m. is the launch of the Poem Gallery at the Harbourfront branch of the library.  Poets who have contributed poems to the gallery (in the windows of the library overlooking Diana Krall Plaza) will read their poems. I’ll be there to read mine: “No Paradise Here.” Kim Goldberg will be host. (You’ll see I wrote a previous blog about Nanaimo’s Poem Gallery although the deadline has now passed for contributions to it.)

On Saturday, April 12 at 1 p.m., I’ll be launching my first full-length book of poetry: Fishing for Mermaids.  You can order a copy from Leaf Press or buy one at the launch. It will be salon style which means we’ll sit in a circle and have a chance to have a conversation. This is a free event and refreshments will be served at Shepherd Hall at Bethlehem Retreat Centre, 2371 Arbot Road in Nanaimo. It’s going to be a grand celebration!

On Wednesday, April 16, 9:30 a.m. to noon, the Writing Life Women’s Circle begins . It’s a six-week writing circle at my home in Nanaimo.  There is a fee. You can find out more information about Writing Life under  Circles in the menu above.

Also on Wednesday, April 16, at 2 p.m. Naomi Beth Wakan will be reading from her recent memoir, Some Sort of Life, and discussing memoir writing, the poetry of aging, and the creative process. That’s at the Wellington branch of Vancouver Island Regional Library. Contact LWright@virl.bc.ca for further information.

On Thursday, April 24 I’ll be heading over to Gabriola Island  to join Heidi Greco from Surrey and Marion Quednau from Gibsons to give readings at The Old Crow Café. This is the regular once-a-month Poetry Gabriola evening with the theme for this month of Poetry City.  Things get underway at 7 p.m. The event is free.

On Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. I’ll be offering Poetry as a Doorway In . . . and a Welcome Home at Bethlehem Retreat Centre in Nanaimo. The theme is: What Else But Song? It’s from a Patrick Lane poem called “Apples in the Rain.” No previous poetry writing experience is necessary and you don’t have to call yourself a poet to attend. You may call yourself a poet at the end of the day though! Have a look at the description of the poetry circle under Circles on the menu above.

On April 28 at 7 p.m. Naomi Beth Wakan will be reading to Mayor John Ruttan and Nanaimo city council at Shaw Auditorium in Nanaimo. The event is called The Mayor’s Challenge as Regina’s mayor challenged mayors across the country to listen to poetry for five minutes during National Poetry Month. Five minutes sure doesn’t sound like too much to ask!

Before the “to do” list, why not begin your day by reading a poem. You could open a book at random and see what message is there for you. Begin the day with some gentle medicine from a poem. This is something you can do whatever city you live in.