News release

City of Mississauga Welcomes its Fourth Youth Poet Laureate

City services | April 12, 2023

The City of Mississauga is pleased to announce that Lisa Shen will be our fourth Youth Poet Laureate. Lisa will hold this position from 2023 to 2025. She will serve as a literary ambassador for youth in the city, as well as help elevate the status of poetry, literary arts and young writers through community poetry events and projects.

Lisa is a 23-year old writer and spoken word artist. Her work focuses on feminism and gender-based violence, with secondary focuses on Chinese-Canadianism, disability and queer identity. Lisa was the winner of the 2021 Mississauga Poetry Slam, the 2022 Ink Movement Slam and the May 2020 Open Drawer Poetry Contest. She was a speaker at TEDx McMasterU 2022 and has been featured at arts festivals and events across North America, including Word Humboldt, Hamilton Youth Poets, and the JAYU Human Rights Film Festival. Her work has been published by Brickyard Spoken Word, Voicemail Poems and will soon be featured in Rattle.

Every two years, the City embarks on a search for its new Youth Poet Laureate. This honourary position recognizes a young poet who writes excellent poetry or spoken word and has written on themes that are relevant to the residents of Mississauga.

Lisa will take over the role starting on April 12 from the City’s third Youth Poet Laureate, Qurat Dar.

“We are excited to welcome Lisa Shen as our new Youth Poet Laureate,” said Kelly Reichheld, Acting Director, Arts and Culture. “Lisa was selected from an exceptional list of applicants and is a talented writer and poet. She will be great role model for aspiring artists and poets and will help raise the profile of literary arts in Mississauga.”

The public can expect to see and hear from the new Youth Poet Laureate at the City’s fourth annual Poetry Slam on April 19. She will also make an appearance as part of the Canada Day celebrations at Celebration Square on July 1.

As a way to kick-off her new role and celebrate National Poetry Month, Lisa read from one of her poems titled, A Girl’s Favourite Colour (see verse below) at today’s General Committee meeting.

A Girl’s Favourite Colour
When I was a kid, I was told that a girl’s favourite colour is pink.
Cherry blossom skirt. Ballerina shoes. A kiss and a curtsy.
But the truth is that

A girl’s favourite colour is red.
Poppies on the lips. Hot coals in the stomach. Bleed the rivers scarlet.
Strike a match on our cheekbone; set the sky on fire ― forget that;

A girl’s favourite color is black.
Eyeliner sharpened to kill. Leather gloves and bootstraps.
The night we take back from them ― actually;

A girl’s favourite color is orange.
Soft, like the sunset. Firefly caught in the lampshade. Marmalade toast.
Melted butter tongue. Just a hint of zest and peel ― forget that too;

A girl’s favourite color is blue.
Bruises on the knuckles. Fist swelled shut,
still hitting out of turn ― here’s the thing;

A girl’s favourite colour is yellow.
Bikini strap. Summer sun.
All of us sprawling out on our porches ― nevermind;

A girl’s favourite color is white.
Powdered icing. First snow. Coat the town in sugar ―

No, you know what?

A girl’s favourite color is pink after all.
Bubble gum pop. Strawberry ice. Basket of roses. Mini skirt.
Hair tied in a bow all cute and pretty for you ―

You want to know the truth?

A girl’s favourite color is the one she laughs in.
It’s her best friend’s lipstick. Her mothers’ curls.

A girl’s favourite color is the one she clutches in the dark.
It’s every dream she’s ever had: Astronaut. Lawyer.
Engineer. Mother. Doctor. President. Housewife.

Paint the room whatever shade you want to.
Give me rainbow. Give me prism.
Give me a shower of kaleidoscopic dust ―

Because here, I’ll tell you the secret at last:

a girl’s favourite color is
whatever she wants it to be.

Lisa Shen, Mississauga Youth Poet Laureate: 2023 to 2025.


Media Contact:
City of Mississauga Media Relations
905-615-3200, ext. 5232
TTY: 905-896-5151