Arm the meek with a poem,
and it won’t take too long.
My word is my oath
and my sword is a song.
— Kevin Flesher, Comox Valley’s first Poet Laureate
Special to The Record
Kevin Flesher is already a lot of things to a lot of people in the Comox Valley.
Now he’s also our first poet laureate.
Well-known for his sly wit, his Robbie Burns poems, as a favourite teacher, as one of the Dukes of Dodge and as wacky children’s hero Captain Thunderpants, Flesher was introduced Tuesday before the Shane Koyczan show at the Sid Williams Theatre.
“I am tremendously honoured and delighted to have been chosen,” said Flesher. “It’s a treat, a thrill and a challenge I am stoked to meet.”
The poet laureate search was organized by the Comox Valley Community Arts Council.
Thunderous applause followed Flesher’s reading of two of his poems in the packed Sid Williams Theatre, as he opened for Koyczan, currently Canada’s most famous poet.
Later, in his performance, Koyczan praised Flesher’s work and the community for getting behind the poet laureate project in such a big way.
“You guys are great!” Koyczan told the audience.
Flesher is excited to get going in his new role.
“My mission is to create more opportunities for more people to experience more poetry,” he said. “Old and young, folks all sorts, in all the nooks and crannies of our Valley. I will stir the pot and stoke the fire, bang the tune and strum the lyre.
“I will be available to write and perform poems for special occasions, perhaps your next funeral or court case could be tweaked with a fresh limerick.
“I look forward to serving the Valley in a new and tasty way. With fresh and zesty verse and rhymes served in a lush bouquet.”
Flesher impressed the poet laureate judges with more than the words he has written.
“His exuberance about life and his love of the ability of language to express that exuberance,” was what caught the attention of jury member Anne Cumming, chair of the North Island College English Department.
“Words don’t just come out of his mouth, but spring from every part of his body. He puts himself out there and connects with his listeners,” she said. “He doesn’t just connect with listeners; he pulls them right in close.”
The Arts Council’s ‘big tent’ concept for the Poet Laureate Search invited submissions from songwriters, rappers, and hip-hop MCs as well as traditional page poets.
Flesher will have a two-year term as poet laureate.