Musqueam hip-hop artist Christie Charles appointed Vancouver's next poet laureate

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      An Indigenous rapper has been named Vancouver's next poet laureate.

      The City of Vancouver announced on May 15 that Christie Charles of Musqueam, who is also known as Miss Christie Lee, was appointed as the city's fifth poet laureate.

      In this honorary position, Charles, who is a spoken-word artist, will focus on language, the arts, and Indigenous poetry and culture. She will also highlight Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and urban Indigenous literary and cultural practices. 

      In addition to being an emcee, she is also coastal hand-drum singer and filmmaker. In her work, she draws upon storytelling, traditional knowledge and culture, and Indigenous hip-hop.

      During her tenure, she will host events that will bring together poets, artists, and performers from various Indigenous communities and from traditional and contemporary practices, and she will also create a work to be published that will incorporate her translation of poetry into the Musqueam language of hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓.

      “My project will connect the greater Vancouver poetic scene and the public to this history of local Indigenous communities, language, and lands we live on today,” Charles stated in a news release.

      As a City of Reconciliation, the City of Vancouver announced a call for nominations for poets from Musqueam, Squamish, or Tsleil-Waututh Nations in late 2017.

      Past poet laureates have included Rachel Rose, Evelyn Lau, Brad Cran, and George McWhirter. The position, which has a flexible term of two to three years, was created in 2006 to honour poetry and literature in Vancouver.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook