Any interview with a poet laureate,
Must open and close in verse.
Our own Kevin Flesher was happy to oblige,
And did so with nary a curse.
“Twas very, very long ago, when I was just a lad.
We’d put on silly plays and shows, that were really, very bad.
But over time, I’ve learned a thing; a trick or two, I’d say
Still, I have a disease that forces me to perform each and every day.”
And so the interview with Comox Valley’s first-ever poet laureate began.
Kevion Flesher: poet laureate. a.k.a. Captain Thunderpants… a.k.a. Cumberland town crier… a.k.a. singer in the Dukes of Dodge.
By day, Flesher teaches art, English as a second language and computers at Lake Trail, as well as drama at Aspen Park. And while he has many alter egos to assist in keeping his teachings entertaining, he noted it`s not all fun and games – even when teaching youngsters.
“If possible I try to make things fun, but that`s not necessarily what`s always called for,” he said, showing a suddenly serious side. “School is meant to be a grind. It’s not always fun. I do like to think I am flexible, but teachers shouldn’t always be about having fun.”
A look at the courses he teaches, one would surmise drama to be a “Flesher favourite.” But it wasn’t always that way.
His teaching roots were in science.
Before moving to Vancouver Island, the born and raised Edmontonian worked at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palentology, in Drumheller, Alberta – developing educational programs.
So what brought him to the Island?
“My wife,” he said. “One day she said ‘I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to live in a hole in the ground where there’s snakes and bones [Drumheller], I want to live where there’s trees.’ So we flew to Comox Valley and 36 hours later bought a house in Cumberland.
“Weird how things work – I went from working on a computer in a room with no windows, dealing with things that have been dead for 75 million years, to being outside, in the fresh air, bears and eagles and dolphins within an arm’s reach. In many ways it was the best decision of all.”
Barely two months into his two-year gig as Comox Valley’s poet laureate, Flesher is finding this added commitment to be a rewarding challenge.
“Being the first one, my mission is pretty simple – just trying to make more poetry happen in more places for more people, more often,” he said. “Hopefully if I do some things that work out well, the laureates that follow will try them as well. And if I do things that don’t work out, hopefully they can learn from my mistakes.”
The community will have another chance to see its poet laureate in action soon enough. Flesher will be making several appearances at the Elevate The Arts festival in downtown Courtenay, June 3-6.
Among his duties there will be the opportunity to direct an improv soap opera at the Native Sons Hall.
True to the promise made at the start of the interview, Flesher had this to say in closing:
“Cutting a path in the deep, dark night,
Planting seeds as I go;
I have no idea how it will all end up,
I guess I’ll just go with the flow.”