Paige Pierce standing in front of the ocean, wearing a green dress and turning back to smile at the camera

Creating connections through poetry

February 28, 2024
Author: Eric Zimmer

VIU Education student Paige Pierce is Nanaimo’s Youth Poet Laureate

Paige Pierce’s first exposure to poetry came about in her last few years of high school. But it wasn’t a smooth introduction.

“A lot of the poetry I was interacting with did not feel relatable or accessible to youth, so I started my writing career as a bit of a poetry hater,” she says.

Still, Paige persevered.

“I took a creative writing class every year in high school, which taught me everything I know about writing,” she says. “I had friends in the class that were interested in poetry, so I started to borrow books from them and the school library. I worked my way through authors and styles until I found some that began to shape how I felt about the genre as a whole.”

She began developing her own voice and style, settling on free-verse poetry. “I prefer not to be limited in my expression by trying to find words that fit into rhyme schemes, rhythms or structures,” she says. “I often start with a line or a feeling and expand a piece from there, so I let the writing happen without worrying about technical details or stylistic choices until it’s time to edit.”

Now, the VIU Education student is hoping to help other youth feel more connected and drawn to poetry as the City of Nanaimo’s Youth Poet in Laureate, a position she will hold until December 2025. Her appointment came about after she heard about the program during her practicum at Nanaimo District Secondary School and applied.

The role acts as a literary ambassador for youth and she will participate in poetry readings and community engagement projects.

“I’m looking forward to developing a group of young writers to create and share their original works,” she says. “I am fortunate to have a lot of flexibility regarding how this role will evolve and the events and projects I get to be involved in.”

Paige’s original dislike of poetry is also part of what inspired her to pursue a teaching career.

“I don’t want other potential students and writers to develop an aversion to poetry because they’re stuck reading pieces that don’t matter to them or feel genuine to their experiences,” she says.  “I’m only just starting to get my feet wet with all the tasks, goals and connections I’ll be working through during my term as Youth Poet Laureate, but I feel very supported and am in awe of all of the grace and resources that have been extended to me over the last two months.”

Paige will graduate from VIU in June of next year. Her future goals include teaching high school English and Social Studies classes on Vancouver Island.

“I would also love to move abroad later in my 20s to pursue a master’s degree and eventually a PhD so that I can move into a career teaching in post-secondary institutions,” she says. “I also recognize that one’s 20s are a strange and often tumultuous era. I can’t try to develop overly rigid plans this far in advance, when so many factors will likely remain up in the air for the foreseeable future.”

Paige is sure of one thing, though: “Most importantly, I hope to keep writing.”

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