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Lilija Valis wins Vancouver Tagore Poetry Contest

Lilija Valis, a reputed poet from the Lower Mainland won the Vancouver Tagore Society’s Poetry Contest 2017.

On Friday (August 11), the awards ceremony of the contest took place at the 7th annual West Coast Tagore Festival 2017 at Richmond’s grand Gateway Theatre.

Leta Lagaunda from Atlanta, Georgia and Lozan Yamolky from the Lower Mainland won the second and third prizes respectively.

The contest, in its second year, involved poets from backgrounds all over the world, and messages just as far reaching.

This year’s theme was ‘Bauliana’, the philosophy of the Bauls. A small group of mystic minstrels in Bengal, the Bauls share a philosophy intricately woven from several separate schools of thought.

Through their folk songs, the Bauls express endorsement of deep spirituality, universal and divine love, humanity, equality, social change and an ascetic-like way of life. Baul culture has had profound influence on Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote many pieces inspired by them, as well as on Bengali culture as a whole.

First-place recipient Lilija Valis is the author of ‘Freedom on the Fault Line’, a book of poetry. Her poetry has been published in eight anthologies and various magazines. She also has two poetry CDs out.


She has read her work, solo or with musician-singer-songwriter Enrico Renz, at numerous local and Bellingham poetry and dance events, including Poetic Justice, Twisted Poets Literary Salon, Surrey Muse, Renaissance Books, Writers International Network, musical and philosophical events, at Cobalt Theatre and the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Hailing from San Diego California, Leta Lagaunda, started on stage at age nine and has now performed around the world with a unique style, a strong voice and a bold presence. She has also appeared on TV, and in various films, stage productions and web-series.

Leta is a Pauline E. Drake Scholar at Spelman College where she is currently majoring in Human Service and an active member of several organizations whose missions are to assist, empower and inspire.

Lozan Yamolky was born in Baghdad in 1972, from Armenian and Kurdish descent. She left Kurdistan and immigrated to Canada in 1995, and began volunteering days after she landed. She began writing in her early teens, and published her debut poetry book (I’m No Hero) in October 2016 with Silver Bow.

However, she will launch her second early this fall.

Speaking up about her own anxiety and depression, she seeks to encourage and inspire those who are mentally ill and/or have been abused to seek help.

The West Coast Tagore continues Saturday with three hours of stunning cultural performances, featuring poetry, songs, dance, and a musical theatre production.

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