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Poetry contest inspires Comox Valley students to put pen to paper

The third annual SD71 poetry contest takes place this month

Is there a budding Shel Silverstein, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, or Bob Dylan in the Comox Valley’s midst?

School District 71 is hoping to find out, through its third annual poetry contest this month.

Put on by Comox Valley Arts poet laureate Natalie Nickerson, the contest aims to inspire students of all grades to put pen to paper.

While she acknowledges the reluctance of some students to share their thoughts publicly, Nickerson hopes many will submit their poems.

“Engaging in poetry has the ability to slow us down, look carefully at our world and connect us with our world in a detailed, qualitative way,” said Nickerson, who has been the Valley’s poet laureate since March 2017. “This is important for learning about ourselves, about the world, and for relating to each other.”

The contest is open to all students enrolled in Comox Valley schools and for anyone employed in SD71, though only students are eligible to win the contest’s three prizes.

The first prize is $100, the second prize is a $25 gift card to Laughing Oyster Bookstore and a custom journal, and the third prize is a dessert for two at Atlas Cafe.

Nickerson and members of the poet laureate committee will judge submissions and select the winners in early June. Many of the submissions will be published in the 2018 SD71 poetry book.

“It has so many benefits and I think often people don’t realize the benefits poetry has,” said Nickerson. “Both writing and reading it. Engaging with it on any level is beneficial to our wellbeing.”

While the length, form, and style of poems are flexible, Nickerson said the committee members will consider the use of poetic devices, (rhyme scheme, alliteration, imagery, etc.), as well as coherence, word selection, and other factors when judging submissions.

“This is not to say you must have these poetic devices in your poem to win, they’re just things to consider when creating a poem,” said Nickerson.

Poems can be submitted online at

The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 11.

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