Winner of the First Annual Poetry Chapbook Contest:
Kyeren Regehr — Disassembling A Dancer
Book Launch Saturday, June 26th, 2021 7 p.m. on Zoom.
Reading Sponsored by the Salt Spring Library and the League of Canadian Poets
ISBN: 978-0-9734408-8-1 $22.95
Kyeren Regehr gives us the body locked in the torment of beautiful movement in this insider’s revelation of a dancer’s life. Her language – trim, muscled, momentumed – soars. The sequence is unforgettable.
— Tim Lilburn
First Annual Poetry Chapbook Contest Short List:
First Runner Up: Marlene Grand Maitre, for Vanishing Point
We were astounded by the precision and surprise in every poem in Vanishing Point. This is a poet that observes the minutest of details and shows how from that, all can be known and lost. The more we read, the more we learned what settles in the marrow. These are west coast poems that capture that essence through the tang of Pacific air, the last Chinook Salmon washed ashore, and the smudge of mountains across a foggy Strait of Juan de Fuca. But most of all we were dazzled by the power and inventiveness of these poems and how the poet renders the significance of each lived moment. The poet watches a pregnant doe stop ten feet away and that presence triggers powerful memories of personal loss and the acute connections between imperiled animal bodies.
Second Runner Up: Tim Chamberlain for Gabriola Passage
Gabriola Passage wanders through the lives and histories of settlers on Gabriola, Mudge, Valdes, and nearby Vancouver Island. The poems are anchored to these places and reveal how those who arrive learn the native species, the curve of rock and shape of islands and also bring their own stories and histories. These merge with island geography and form lives as rugged as the coastline. A “remember the time” kind of telling where what gets passed down is transformed into the clearest of poetry. These poems depict places peopled from as far away as Scotland or China but laid over indigenous middens and burial grounds.
Third Runner Up: Karl Meade for doom eager
This poet explores the Icelandic term for what it means to be sick with an idea and immediately got our attention with phrase after phrase such as ‘the soon light’. Many of these poems read as an intimate exchange that drew us in and sometimes we were the ‘I’ and sometimes the ‘you’. These poems have a depth and complexity that move through the seasons and beyond the seasons. There is a unity here and a plan that makes it impossible to stop after just one poem. The final section drew us in with its shifting intimacy. There the poet reveals how fragile each life is at that moment when all is about to plunge. Throughout this chapbook the poet’s language is fragile but fierce and the poems interweave the personal and the natural world so well that at times the you is both plant and an unsleeping child. These poems are rich with internal rhyme and complex rhythms.
The jury, Yvonne Blomer and Robert Hilles, thought that their chapbooks were close. They saw much merit in the poems and would like to encourage the poets to persist in their project.
THANK YOU TO ALL THE POETS WHO SUBMITTED WORK FOR THIS CONTEST
Judges for the 2021 contest were two award-winning B.C. poets, Yvonne Blomer and Robert Hilles.
Yvonne Blomer is the author of a travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur, and three books of poetry, as well as an editor, teacher and mentor in poetry and memoir. She served as the city of Victoria poet laureate from 2015-2018. In 2018 Yvonne was the Artist-in-Residence at the Robert Bateman Centre and created Ravine, Mouse, a Bird’s Beak, a chapbook of ekphrastic ecological poetry in response to Bateman’s art. She has edited the anthologies Refugium: Poems for the Pacific and Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds, the second in a trilogy of water-based poetry anthologies published by Caitlin Press.
Robert Hilles won the Governor General’s Award for poetry for Cantos From A Small Room. In the same year, his first novel, Raising of Voices, won the Writers Guild of Alberta George Bugnet Award for best novel. He has published sixteen books of poetry and five books of prose. Hilles’ books have also been shortlisted for The Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Prize, The W.O. Mitchell/City of Calgary Prize, The Stephan G. Stephansson Award, and The Howard O’Hagan Award. His newest poetry book Shimmer was published by Black Moss Press in 2019 and his forthcoming novel, Don’t Hang Your Soul On That, will be published Spring 2021 by Guernica Editions.