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Castlegar native campaigns to become poet laureate

Tristan Wheeler made a pitch to Castlegar city council
Tristan Wheeler wants to become Castlegar’s poet laureate. Photo: Submitted

A young man with Castlegar roots is making a pitch to become the official poet laureate of the city.

Tristan Wheeler spoke to Castlegar City Council on June 26, suggesting Castlegar become a Kootenay trend setter by creating a position that is typically only seen in larger cities and nations.

He suggested the position would be for a set term and unpaid.

Wheeler sees himself as the ideal candidate to write poems for important events such as elections, celebrations and moments of mourning and to act as a figurehead for poetry in the community.

Wheeler graduated from Stanley Humphries Secondary School in 2015 as the class valedictorian.

He says his interest in poetry started at a young age, going back as far as his performance of William Blake’s The Tyger in a grade four talent show at Kinnaird Elementary School.

Wheeler earned a bachelor of arts in English literature from UBC last year.

He has written a book of poems called Convergence that includes poems about growing up in and visiting Castlegar.

Councillor Bergen Price liked the idea and the way it could enhance the arts culture of Castlegar.

Council provoked Wheeler to read a few of his poems including one about Castlegar City Hall.

Even though Wheeler doesn’t currently live in Castlegar, he says his heart still lives here.

Mayor Kirk Duff said listening to Wheeler made him excited about the concept of a poet laureate.

Council decided to ask staff to look into the idea and present a report at a future meeting before making a final decision.

A few of Tristan Wheeler’s poems:

City Hall 2007

They built city hall

out of red brick and cement.

We watched it go up.

If we’re lucky

maybe we’ll see it come down.


A building crumbles if you

stay in it too long

An apple rots if you

put off eating it too long

A dream is forgotten if you

leave it to the side too long

What about a town?

Does a town disappear if you

don’t visit it?

READ MORE: FESTIVAL TALES: Starstruck at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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