Joanna Streety 2018-2020

Inaugural Tofino Poet Laureate Named

Tofino’s Inaugural Poet Laureate ; Joanna Streetly.

Joanna Streetly was the inaugural Poet Laureate from 2018 to 2020. The announcement was made on April 30th during a Committee of the Whole meeting.  The following is a collection of works, projects and presentations she made during her tenure.

Streetly is interested in working with the community and in the school, delving into past and present issues. She is the published author of four books, including a volume of poetry entitled This Dark, as well as the newly published non-fiction BC Bestseller Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast, each chapter of which commences with a haiku. Streetly’s current book has been praised in the Vancouver Sun as “elegantly written” with “gorgeous prose . . . that captures life on the outer coast in a way that few recent titles have managed.” She is also known for regular performances of poetry with groups such as The Diversity Project and Performance Anxiety.

Before the Road—completed May 2019, Grade 9 USS + Heartwood

Hearing Range—started (received partial funding from CBT, applied for funding from BC Arts Council in July 2019, referred to April 2020 Arts Culture and Heritage Grant) Sheri-D Wilson—Sheri-D cancelled 3 days prior, Poet Laureate and Janice Lore ran the workshop and prepared the performance.

Walk for the Wild Things—complete

Night Write—New Year Writing Studio at Darwin’s, complete

Website and social media—ongoing Mary Oliver Tribute Night—ad hoc tribute night/poetry party, complete International Women’s Day—commemorative poem

Shut Up and Write—Hosted a weekly writing studio for 8 weeks National Poetry Month—Daily poem series on the website, complete SummerFest—Expressions of Nature, community theatre performance with Esther Celebrini Gust O Wind Series—Featured 2 New Zealand poets & open mic at the gazebo in July hosted by Janice Lore


Reading at First St dock during the search for 3 men lost to drowning

Reading PRAS Summer Festival, with Esther Celebrini Reading SurfRider theatre event, prepared for but cancelled Delegation to council on the benefits of arts, culture and heritage to a community

Brief address and reading during council meeting, about sewage

Performance and address during Poetry Cabaret (in lieu of Sheri-D Wilson)

Performance and address Totem Pole raising community dinner Performance and address Council Inauguration Poem

Presentation and reading at the Rainy Award Address: Walk for the Wild Things

Performance PRAS Summer Festival, with Esther Celebrini

Presentation: presentation to council in the aftermath of Councillor Baert’s death

Presentation and address at the public memorial service for Dorothy Baert


No World Beyond This (rainy day poem a propos of weather) War In The Woods (requested by community member)

The Days Between (response to multiple drownings)

Hishuk ish Tsawalk (on the occasion of the totem pole)

Storm Force! (for Tourism Tofino, requested by them) International Women’s Day

For Dorothy


Cedar Forest (showcased the work of a young poet) Janis McDougall (showcased the MMIW poem of Jan McDougall) Sherry Marr (showcased this local poet’s work, through links to her posts) National Poetry Month (Tofino and BC poets showcased daily on the website) National Poetry Day (Highlighting books by local poets on the website)

The Poet Laureate may be asked to write poems on a particular topic. While not obligated to do so, during her tenure, Joanna Streetly responded to requests for poems by Eileen Floody (25 year anniversary of the War in the Woods,) The District of Tofino (raising of the totem pole,) the District of Tofino (inauguration of the new council) and Tourism Tofino (storms). She also offered other poems reflecting weather and other events.

Dorothy Baert was the owner/operator of Tofino Sea Kayaking and a fourth term councillor. Her sudden death this summer (2019) was a shock and loss to the community. At her memorial service she was noted for her incredible vision, dogged support of the environment and constant need to create progressive changes. A few years prior she had commissioned me to write and perform this poem to celebrating the 25 year anniversary of her business. It is as relevant now as it was five years ago.

Closing out poetry month with the Covid-19 Haiku Project, which is collecting  haiku from the West Coast and as far away as Australia. It is an on-going project started by Elisabeth Smith. Please consider submitting a haiku for the project. Your haiku should be about your thoughts, feelings or images that come to mind about the pandemic. Please use the 17 syllable format. Haiku can be submitted to Elisabeth at oshuntribe  at gmail dot com
Therese Bouchard is a woman becoming a crone and aims at becoming wilder all the time.
Ana-Maria Noronha: Westcoaster with a love and respect for the natural world, the arts, and all virtues, particularly kindness.
Elisabeth Smith is a creative soul living by the ocean and in love with nature.
As National Poetry Month nears its close, here’s a moment of time travel prompted by April rain at two a.m.
Joanna Streetly is the author of Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast, (Caitlin Press, 2018). A westcoaster for 30 years, she is the inaugural Tofino Poet Laureate (for one more week!) and is deeply attached to her community, its landscape and cast of characters. Other titles include This Dark (poetry, Postelsia Press,) Silent Inlet (fiction, Oolichan) Paddling Through Time (non-fiction Raincoast). Her work has been published in anthologies, periodicals and in Best Canadian Essays 2017
On Day 28, Craig Devine takes us to horse country and the place where “today connects with yesterday.” This is Craig’s first occasion putting writing into a public forum. May there be more!
Craig Devine has lived closer to 60th as opposed to 49th parallel most of his life. Cabin life, draw water, chop wood, coal oil lamps, no power—that sort of thing. Heavy equipment, mining construction. Craig has spent a few years working the High Arctic, Baffin Island and has retired to Tla-o-qui-aht Hahoolthee (his wife’s territory) where he is the community gardener.
Who better to know beauty than Karen Charleson, for whom nature is home and isolation is a way of life.
Karen Charleson lives in Hesquiat Harbour, where she and her husband operate Hooksum Outdoor School. Karen is the author of the novel “Through Different Eyes.”
With school cancelled, Cedar Forest is taking grade ten classes remotely from her off-grid islet home. But this poem “Disturbed”  isn’t homework. It springs from a deep connection to her surroundings and awareness of our changing, volatile world.
On day 23 of National Poetry Month wait at the Kennedy Hill road closure and ponder the notion of improvement.
Joanna Streetly is the author of Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast, (Caitlin Press, 2018). A westcoaster for 30 years, she is the inaugural Tofino Poet Laureate (for one more week!) and is deeply attached to her community, its landscape and cast of characters. Other titles include This Dark (poetry, Postelsia Press,) Silent Inlet (fiction, Oolichan) Paddling Through Time (non-fiction Raincoast). Her work has been published in anthologies, periodicals and in Best Canadian Essays 2017
Journey to a dimming star with Janice lore, on Day 22 of National Poetry Month. And if the last stanza of this poem doesn’t give you the good-poetry shivers, nothing will.
Janice Lore is a member of the Clayoquot Writers Group and enjoys the challenge of performance poetry. She makes books to showcase her poetry and is interested in collaborating with other artists. All of this is coming together in an exhibition of her handmade books later this year.
On Day 21 of National Poetry Month, bloom where you’re planted with Ucluelet poet and author Shirley Martin.
Shirley Martin writes harbourside in Ucluelet, and gains inspiration from her rugged west coast surroundings. She has written three books for children; a fourth is in the works. Shirley is passionate about west coast history, and is working on a local history project. More info at
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a month since physical distancing measures came into effect. It feels like a strange new lifetime, a time warp into which we are frozen. Cori Howard’s poem “Still Life at Home” beautifully expresses the sense of time passing and yet not passing.
Cori Howard is an award-winning journalist and poet based in Vancouver. When not running her communications business or writing, she hosts writing & yoga retreats for women – in person and now online.

Sarah-Marie Smiley was a regular at the (pre-Covid) open mic nights at the Tofino General Store until times changed. Here is her poem “Presently Speaking,” for Day 17 of National Poetry Month. Sarah-Marie describes herself as “a visionary grassroots poet for the spoken & written word. Singer-Songwriter/producer. She is in your legions, at your soccer games, equestrian events, beach fires, various and sundry readings & open mics, somewhere between the Ocean and the Rockies. Her work is philosophy, imagery and Canadian culture based.” For Day 16 of National Poetry Month, Helen Mavoa has crafted her own poem/image combination. Helen has been migrating annually between Tofino and  Australia, where her family is. Quarantine has meant Tofino is lucky enough to have her for a little longer! She writes and takes photos from her perch overlooking the harbour. What to name a poem? Day 15 brings us to “Title poem,” rob mclennan’s submission from the book of smaller. Few writers are as prolific in both their published work and their online presence as rob. Check out his regular reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent poetry titles include A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019) and Life sentence, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics ( and Touch the Donkey ( He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta. A brief hiatus for the long weekend and already we’ve arrived at Day 14, a poem by Erin Bros, who joined the Clayoquot Writers Group this year. Erin Bros has been writing poetry and other musings for most of her short 30 years on this planet. Throughout her 20s she pursued other careers in geology, the avalanche and ski industry, as well as tree planting. All of these have taken her to many remote and stunning places. As of 2020 she has begun pursuing writing professionally, documenting her journey along the way. Her words are heavily influenced by her love for the outdoors, serving as metaphors in describing the experiences of being human. You can find more of her work at Thank you to Lorne Daniel for this contribution to Day 9 of National Poetry Month. While elders are much on our minds lately,  humans are not the only elders whose lives we fear for… Lorne Daniel published three books of poetry before leaving the literary world for about 20 years. He has recently returned to writing and “Elders and the Light they Hold Aloft” is from a new book manuscript called “Preparations for the Wrong Emergency.” Lorne lives in Victoria, BC, on the unceded territories of the coast Salish people. You can find him online at Taking on the 2020 theme, “A World of Poetry” Day Eight’s poem is by Christine Lowther. Christine Lowther  has authored three poetry collections and a memoir, Born Out of This, which was shortlisted for a BC Book Prize. She won the creative non-fiction category of the Federation of British Columbia Writers 2016 contest, Literary Writes, and the inaugural Rainy Coast Arts Award for Significant Accomplishment in 2014. Co-editor of two nonfiction anthologies, she happily contributes to other editors’ projects now! Welcome to Day Seven of National Poetry Month! This poem by Debbie Strange won first place in the 2019 British Haiku Society Awards, Tanka Section. Debbie Strange is an internationally published short form poet, haiga artist and photographer whose creative passions bring her closer to the world and to herself. She maintains a publication and awards archive at which also includes hundreds of haiga, and reviews of her books. Anyone who has walked on Tofino’s Chesterman Beach will have looked out to Lennard Island and seen the lighthouse standing against the sunset. Jeff George and his wife Caroline Woodward have the reverse view, looking from the lighthouse towards Chesterman, Meares and the future… Jeff George and his wife are lightkeepers on Lennard Island Light. They planned to move on down the highway on May 1 but, because of Covid 19, they have agreed to remain at work on Lennard for the foreseeable future. Peel back Day Three of National Poetry Month and discover the beautiful wound of “Madrone, by Tara Shepersky Tara K. Shepersky is a contemplative writer and walker in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Find her online: // Twitter @PDXpersky // Instagram @tkspdx

She’s also the creator of The Florilegia Project: // Twitter @SparklingPhrase // Instagram @TheFlorilegiaProject

On Day Two of National Poetry Month, Tofino local Sherry Marr sings for change. Tofino is blessed with some diehard poetry lovers, but few as dedicated as Sherry Marr. Sherry is the grandmother of the Clayoquot Writers group. She is the poetry lover who will stand out in the rain to hear someone read. She is the poetry lover who will cheer every poet and find the good in every poem. Every poet needs a Sherry in their fold. Every community needs one too. Sherry Marr lives in and is constantly inspired by the beauty of Clayoquot Sound. She is a member of the Clayoquot Writers Group, and is haunted by the spirit of a black wolf, her companion of fourteen years, now in the spirit world. Sherry writes daily at . Black Chinned Sparrow Photograph by Joanna Streetly

Welcome to Day One of the Tofino Poet Laureate Poem-A-Day Series! What more appropriate commencement than this reminder of resilience and continuity from “The Secret Signature of Things” by Eve Joseph.

Eve Joseph lives and writes on the unceded traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples. Her first two books of poetry The Startled Heart (Oolichan, 2004) and The Secret Signature of Things (Brick, 2010) were both nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Award. Her nonfiction book In the Slender Margin was published by HarperCollins in 2014 and won the Hubert Evans award for nonfiction. Her most recent book of poetry Quarrels (Anvil, 2018) was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Award and won the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize.