31 writers make the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Writers from across Canada have made the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist. (See individual pages for credit)

Thirty-one writers from across Canada have been longlisted for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize.

The complete longlist is:

  • Onion by Mia Anderson (Portneuf, Que.)
  • witchy by Shauna Andrews (Powell River, B.C.)
  • The Other Day, I Told Ian That Having Mice Is Like the Trouble With Tribbles but Written in Another Genre / She Says, You Know, Though, You Do by C Baran (Vancouver)
  • Field Party by Joelle Barron (Fort Frances, Ont.)
  • even this dust / some walks of late / a feather / this slowly by J.R. Carpenter (Edmonton)
  • plaques: that they by Sophie Edwards (Kagawong, Ont.)
  • James by Lise Gaston (Vancouver)
  • Cod Jigging Near Twillingate by Alexander Hollenberg (Hamilton, Ont.)
  • the body & the ghost by Eileen Mary Holowka (Montreal)
  • language is by Erica Hiroko Isomura (New Westminster, B.C.)
  • Prairie Ritual by Conor Kerr (Vancouver)
  • Migration Song by Nicole Lachat (Edmonton)
  • Saturday morning, East Pender Street by Y.S. Lee (Kingston, Ont.)
  • Walking in Space by Tanis MacDonald (Waterloo, Ont)
  • Fallow by Kirsteen MacLeod (Kingston, Ont.)
  • hydrodynamics by Katie Martí (Victoria)
  • Lunch at Pine Valley Indian Reservation by Francine Merasty (Saskatoon)
  • Northwestern Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos caurinus) by Jordan Mounteer (Winlaw, B.C.)
  • Brain Spike for the Second Mouth by Cassandra Myers (Toronto)
  • Whale Killing by Nolan Natasha (Halifax)
  • How to write at the end of the world by Erin Noteboom (Kitchener, Ont.)
  • Untranslatable by Adriana Oniță (Edmonton)
  • The Morgue in my Tears by Bola Opaleke (Winnipeg)
  • Hey You Lucy Liu by Charlie Petch (Toronto)
  • Murmuration by Natalie Rice (Kelowna, B.C.)
  • The End of the Line by Allana Stuart (Ottawa)
  • Water by Emily Swinkin (Toronto)
  • Table Manners by Justin Timbol (Mississauga, Ont.)
  • Tuxedo Court by Kayal Vizhi (Toronto)
  • Addendum —”Flora of a Small Island in the Salish Sea” by Alison Watt (Nanaimo, B.C.)
  • Two Girls by A. Light Zachary (Toronto and Grande-Digue, N.B.)
  • Why bury yourself in this place you ask by A. Light Zachary (Toronto and Grande-Digue, N.B.)

The longlist was selected from almost 3,000 English-language submissions.

A team of writers and editors from across Canada compiled the list. The jury then selects the shortlist and the eventual winner from the readers’ longlisted selections.

The 2021 jury is comprised of Louise Bernice Halfe, Canisia Lubrin and Steven Heighton.

The shortlist will be announced on Nov. 18 and the winner will be announced on Nov. 24.

The winner of the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

Last year’s winner was Montreal writer and photographer Matthew Hollett for his poem, Tickling the Scar.

The longlist for the French-language competition has also been revealed. To read more, go to the Prix de poésie Radio-Canada.

The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979. Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winter and Frances Itani.​

If you’re interested in other writing competitions, check out the CBC Literary Prizes, the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January and the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

Check out the 2021 Poetry Prize English-language finalists below.

Mia Anderson is a poet living in Portneuf, Que. (Danielle Giguère)

Mia Anderson has been an actress, organic grower and market gardener, shepherd, priest, poet and translator. Several of these things she still is. She has published six books of poetry. Her work has won the Montreal International Poetry Prize, the National Magazine Award and the Malahat Long Poem Prize twice. She was raised and educated in Toronto but now lives on the francophone shores of the St. Lawrence, near Huron-Wendat land.

Why she wrote Onion“The garden. But the poem says that. Food, in the sense that the deeply moral chef José Andrés means it. He said, ‘We can change the world through the power of food.’ The playfulness of the poem’s marital metaphor and the love of small farms — with their desperate current needs. A sad and sorry hope for small agriculture and for humanity.”

Shauna Andrews is a freelance writer and poet who lives in Powell River, B.C. (Submitted by Shauna Andrews)

Shauna Andrews is a freelance writer with a MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Her work has been published in Portal and Incline. She is a contributing editor for Prism International. She offers content creation and editing through her brand, Cowgirl Grammar, recently working in collaboration with Clarity Wine and Build Magazine Okanagan. When she isn’t painting paper with words, Andrews runs local backcountry trails alongside her two dogs. She lives on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

Why she wrote witchywitchy is part of a series of poems I wrote that reflect on terms that target women, mirrored by personal memories that shaped me as I came of age. I found myself going back to my upbringing, my first experiences with men, being loved, being used, being curious and being insulted. It was within these memories that derogatory terms surfaced, creating a situational parallel between growth and insecurity, strength and submission.”

C Baran is an artist and writer living in Surrey, B.C. (Submitted by C Baran)

C Baran is a disabled artist and writer living on Canada’s west coast. Her poems have been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Prism, Room, jubilat, Magma and in Best Canadian Poetry 2019. She was the winner of Prism’s 2019 Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize, their 2020 Grouse Grind Lit Prize for V. Short Forms and Magma’s 2021 Editors’ Prize.

Why she wrote She Says, You Know, Though, You Do and The Other Day, I Told Ivan That Having Mice Is Like The Trouble With Tribbles: 

“She Says, You Know, Though, You Do was inspired by a conversation with a relative.

“The Other Day, I Told Ian That Having Mice Is Like the Trouble With Tribbles but Written in Another Genre began much as it starts. On the phone, I told a friend that having mice was like The Trouble With Tribbles but written by Stephen King. I haven’t seen the Star Trek episode since I was a kid, but I can still picture Kirk opening that overhead compartment.”

Joelle Barron is a writer and editor living in Fort Frances, Ont. (Submitted by Joelle Barron)

Joelle Barron is a writer and editor living in Fort Frances, Ont. Their first poetry collection, Ritual Lights, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers.

Why they wrote Field Party“This poem is about one of the ways, in my life, that gendered expectations of care met their ultimate conclusion.”

J. R. Carpenter is a writer living in North Yorkshire, U.K. (Submitted by J. R. Carpenter)

J. R. Carpenter is a writer working across performance, print and digital media. Her digital poem The Gathering Cloud won the New Media Writing Prize in 2016. Her debut poetry collection, An Ocean of Static, was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2018. Her most recent collection, This is a Picture of Wind, has been longlisted for the Laurel Prize and was one of the Guardian’s best poetry books of 2020. Born in Mi’kma’ki, she lived in Tiohtià:ke for many years. Carpenter currently lives in England.

Why she wrote even this dust / some walks of late / a feather / this slowly: “During the pandemic, I made a pact with another writer. We would go outside every day and report back. That’s it. That was our strategy for getting through the long winter. These poems come from this daily practice of writing about walking.”

Sophie Edwards is a writer, geographer and environmental artist based in Kagawong, Ont. (Submitted by Sophie Edwards)

Sophie Edwards is a geographer and environmental artist. Her poetry has appeared in the Capilano Review, Arc Poetry and the Pi Review. Her chapbook and video poem crystal + clay was published by Blasted Tree Press. Gap Riot Press produced River Writes, a visual poetry postcard series. Her work has been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She’s done residencies at the Purdy A-Frame, Sage Hill and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She lives on Mnidoo Mnising on Manitoulin Island, where she gardens and writes.

Why she wrote plaques: that they“While walking a river trail outside of Mattawa, I read a plaque about the settler history of the area. Plaques are sites of power and often erase the quiet and overt violence of colonization. A few years back I led a project in Kagawong that involved the curation of a sculpture and plaque trail. We went through a challenging and painful process to negotiate every word in the plaques to include the history and impact of settlement and colonization in the community. So, this poem speaks to these processes of writing and rewriting history, conjuring the house we lived in that had been the main office of the Abotossaway sawmill in Little Current and touches on this complex love of place that is negotiated as a settler in an occupied landscape.”

Lise Gaston is a writer from Vancouver. (Submitted by Lise Gaston)

Lise Gaston is the author of Cityscapes in Mating Season, which was named as one of the 10 must-read books of 2017 by the League of Canadian Poets. Other work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brick, Canadian Notes and Queries, the Fiddlehead, the Malahat Review and Best Canadian Poetry in English. Gaston lives in Vancouver.

Why she wrote James“In July 2020, my husband and I found out at a routine ultrasound that our baby would be stillborn. In writing of an experience that was and remains overwhelming, I focus here on the aspect of naming. We named him quickly, in the midst of grief and shock, in the short hours between his death and his birth. This poem is about that moment, but also what I couldn’t realize until after: that naming has a surprising permanence to it, even while his existence felt so impermanent. We will carry that name with us; he will always be our family, our firstborn.”

Alexander Hollenberg is a writer based in Hamilton, Ont. (Kaye Prince-Hollenberg)

Alexander Hollenberg is a professor of storytelling and narrative theory. His writing can be found in journals such as English Studies in Canada, Narrative, Style and the Literary Review of Canada. In Halifax — where he fell in love with the ocean — his poem Library of Trees won the Joseph Howe Prize. He now lives in Hamilton Ont., where he can usually be found exploring the escarpment trails with his wife and their dog.

Why he wrote Cod Jigging Near Twillingate“My partner and I really did go jigging for cod on our honeymoon, led by a gem of a human named Captain Dave. But we were struck in the midst of this love by just how easy it was to catch a fish with nothing more than a piece of yarn. In that sense, each of these poems explores how we are shaped by the spaces we occupy and at what point that occupation becomes an imposition. The memories my poems represent — of love, of fishing, of exploration, of storytelling — are tied affectionately to real, physical places, and yet each poem is anxious about the tightness of those knots.”

Eileen Mary Holowka is a writer and PhD candidate living in Montreal. (Submitted by Eileen Mary Holowka)

Eileen Mary Holowka is a writer and PhD candidate living in Montreal. Her research looks at the intersections of endometriosis and social media. She has also worked in game development and literary publishing and is one of the editors of the upcoming CV2 issue Sick Poetics. She published a digital narrative, circuits, in 2018, which can be played for free online.

Why she wrote the body & the ghost“Grief and survival, particularly following my brother’s suicide and our experiences being harassed and threatened on social media. This poem is about our histories with abuse, illness and madness, and the ways in which trauma and harm can spread between people like a virus.”

Erica Hiroko Isomura is a writer, artist and producer from New Westminster, B.C. (Jeff Nicholls)

Erica Hiroko Isomura is a genre-fluid writer, multi-disciplinary artist and cultural producer from New Westminster, B.C. She is the winner of Room’s 2021 Emerging Writer Award and won first prize for creative nonfiction in Briarpatch’s 2019 Writing in the Margins contest. Her poetry has recently been published in carte blanche, the Maynard and Vallum. Isomura is currently at work on a collection of essays.

Why she wrote language is: “I wrote this poem to express a complexity of longing towards language, specifically as somebody who isn’t fluent in their ancestral tongue. Being fourth-generation Chinese and yonsei (四世) Japanese, I wasn’t raised speaking Cantonese, Toisanese or Japanese, due to cultural assimilation. For many years I carried a sense of shame because of that.”

Conor Kerr is an educator, writer and harvester living in Vancouver. (Zachary Ayotte)

Conor Kerr is a Métis and Ukrainian educator, writer and harvester. He is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and is descended from the Gladue, Ginther and Quinn families from the Lac Ste. Anne and Fort Des Prairies Métis communities and the Papaschase Cree Nation. Kerr is a harvester and Labrador retriever enthusiast.

Why he wrote Prairie Ritual“For this series of poems, [my inspirations were] birds, bros and grannies. The way that cedar waxwings storm in for fermented berries and the movement of magpies with chicken wing bones across city structures. Thinking about the way that the land itself is a construct of spirituality that exists for Indigenous Peoples and will always continue to be so.”

Nicole Lachat is a poet and a PhD candidate in creative writing from Edmonton. (Jerriod Avant)

Nicole Lachat was born in Edmonton to a Peruvian mother and Swiss father. She earned her BA in psychology from the University of Alberta and her MFA in creative writing from New York University. Her poetry appears in Palimpsest, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and Ruminate. She won second prize in the Short Grain 2018 Contest and is a Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity fellow. Lachat currently lives in Lincoln, where she is pursuing her PhD in creative writing at the University of Nebraska.

Why she wrote Migration Song: “As a child of immigrants, and as a person who has now migrated herself, I spend a lot of time considering what homeland is and what it might be. I am full of longing for places which exist primarily in the imagination. In my poems I try to understand the role of borders, both those of nations and those of the body.”

Y. S. Lee is a poet and author living in Kingston, Ont. (Scott Adamson)

Y. S. Lee’s poems have won Arc Poetry’s Award of Awesomeness in July 2020 and been shortlisted for Australian Book Review’s Peter Porter Poetry Prize in 2021. Her fiction includes the YA mystery series The Agency, which has been translated into six languages. Her first picture book is forthcoming from Groundwood Books. She lives in Kingston, Ont.

Why she wrote Saturday morning, East Pender Street“Vancouver’s new notoriety as the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America prompted me to think about its many waves of Asian immigration and related questions of race, language and belonging.”

Tanis MacDonald is a poet and a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University who lives in Waterloo, Ont. (John Roscoe)

Tanis MacDonald lives on traditional Haudenosaunee land in Southwest Ontario, otherwise known as Waterloo. She was born and raised in Winnipeg and has worked as a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University since 2006. Her last book of poems, Mobile, was longlisted for the Toronto Book Awards in 2020. Her essay Mondegreen Girls won the Malahat Review’s Open Season Award for creative nonfiction in 2021. Her poems have recently appeared in Grain, Prairie Fire and the Fiddlehead.

Why she wrote Walking in Space“I’ve been thinking about the pitfalls of personal and familial history since the death of my parents. I was recently in a workshop where we were talking about ancestor poems and I thought, ‘I have no idea how to write about my ancestors.’

“A trip to Northern Ireland in 2018, in which I was one of only a few people in my group to walk across the slim rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, seemed the perfect place to start writing about my sporadic courage, the erosion of history, and not having ground beneath my feet.”

Kirsteen McLeod is a writer living in Kingston, Ont. (Submitted by Kirsteen MacLeod)

Kirsteen MacLeod is a writer who was born in Glasgow, Scotland but has lived in Toronto and Brazil. Her poetry, essays and short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies such as the Literary Review of Canada, CV2, the Malahat Review and Arc Poetry. She has been a finalist for awards including Arc Poetry’s Poem of the Year and the CBC Nonfiction Prize. She is the author of the nonfiction book In Praise of Retreat and the short story collection The Animal Game. She lives in Kingston, Ont. and teaches yoga. MacLeod is writing a poetry collection about embodied life.

Why she wrote Fallow: “This poem was inspired from when I was recently married. I was watching my husband gardening and I suddenly wondered whether we would have children. I wrote a draft of the poem at the time, which was 25 years ago. It was one of the first poems I ever wrote. Over the years, whenever it randomly resurfaced from the chaos of my files, I worked on it. Finally, this year I felt it was finished.”

Katie Martí is a writer, musician and teacher living in Victoria. (Emily Beekmans)

Katie Martí is a poet, author, musician and teacher. She is a two-time winner of the Shuswap Association of Writers’ Word on the Lake Writing Contest and was shortlisted for the Writers’ Union of Canada’s Writing for Children Competition. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including Voices from the Valleys: Stories & Poems about Life in B.C.’s Interior. Born in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal and raised in Mi’kma’ki/New Brunswick, these days she lives on unceded Coast Salish traditional territory in Victoria, with her partner and a very large cat named Ted.

Why she wrote hydrodynamics: “I have a terrible memory. I used to consider this a deficit because it meant I could never really be confident in the accuracy of my own personal narrative. As a writer, however, and particularly through poetry, I have come to find enormous freedom and inspiration in the space between fact and fiction.

“I am fascinated by the ways in which we come to believe what we think we know is true, by the stories we tell with fingers crossed behind our backs and by the uniquely human craft of weaving an identity from these tenuous threads.”

Francine Merasty is a lawyer and poet from Saskatchewan. (Brad Fenty)

Francine Merasty a lawyer, poet and is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation from Pelican Narrows, Sask. She is the author of the poetry collection Poetry of a Northern Rez Girl. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor from the University of Saskatchewan. Merasty began writing poetry while working for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as a way to cope with the trauma associated with being a witness to horrific events. Her poems have been published in the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Polyglot, Briarpatch and The Best American Poetry 2021. She currently lives in Saskatoon.

Why she wrote Lunch at Pine Valley Indian Reservation: “Childhood lunches at home in the ’80s and ’90s on the reserve, my mother loved her soap operas and the lives I had seen on television were so far from our reality living on an Indian reserve in northern Saskatchewan.”

Jordan Mounteer is a poet and psychotherapist who lives in Winlaw, B.C. (Lauren Kniewasser)

Jordan Mounteer is a psychotherapist who lives and works in the Kootenays on the unceded and traditional territories of the Sinixt First Nation. His poems have appeared in numerous publications including the Fiddlehead, the Dalhousie Review and Grain. He was previously shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, the Montreal Poetry Contest, the Malahat Review’s Open Season Awards and CV2’s Young Buck Poetry Prize. Mounteer won Prism’s Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize, the Adirondack Review’s 46er Poetry Prize and Glass Buffalo’s Poetry Contest. His first book, liminal, came out in 2017 with SonoNis Press.

Why he wrote Northwestern Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos caurinus)“I have increasingly found that whatever accounts for poetic sensibility tends to be on equal terms with philosophical sensibility, and part of the challenge of both is finding new ways to ask old questions. Crows seem like the perfect vehicle for this sort of task because they come to a poem already equipped with so much connotative baggage and metaphorical meaning. So their presence in any writing also amounts to a dare — how do you convey something so easily relegated to a cliché in a way that feels fresh, accessible and seditious? The crow is an ultimatum to the poet to pervert expectations and invert convention.”

Cassandra Myers is a performance poet and counsellor from Toronto. (Em Dial)

Cassandra Myers is a queer, non-binary and disabled South Asian and Italian performance poet and counsellor from Toronto. Raised in the slam poetry community for seven years, they have earned titles such as the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Champion. As she transitioned to the written word, her work has won the Arc Poetry’s Poem of the Year Award in 2021. Their first collection of poems, Smash the Headlights, is forthcoming from Write Bloody North Publishing. 

Why she wrote Brain Spike for the Second Mouth: “After watching a Vice Media mini-documentary on Ikejime, I couldn’t stop thinking about the similarities between an animal’s stress response and the links to my current experiences with vulvodynia after sexual violence.”

Nolan Natasha is a performer and filmmaker based in Halifax. (Submitted by Nolan Natasha)

Nolan Natasha is a queer and trans writer, performer and filmmaker. Of Faroese and English ancestry, he lives in Halifax. He has been a finalist for the Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Contest, the Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest and was the runner-up for the Thomas Morton Memorial Prize for fiction. His debut poetry collection, I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?, was released in the fall of 2019 with Invisible Publishing. He is currently working on a collection of short stories and a series of video poems.

Why he wrote Whale Killing: “A good deal of my work is about a connection with a place and connections between people. This poem has a foot in both these themes: the complex ways identity can be tied up one’s relationship to a place and its traditions and the ways that where we’re from can be significant when revealing ourselves to another person. The inspiration for this poem draws on a moment where I wanted to share myself deeply, beyond an idealized surface, down to the blood and guts. It’s a love poem about where I’m from and it’s a song for those rare moments where you feel an intense desire to reveal all of yourself to someone.”

Erin Noteboom is a physicist, poet and children’s book author from Kitchener, Ont. (Submitted by Erin Noteboom)

Erin Noteboom is a physicist turned poet and children’s novelist. She recently finished a collection of poems about science and scientists, a knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen, forthcoming from Brick Books. Her secret identity is Erin Bow, writer of children’s fiction. Her work includes the modern classic Plain Kate and the Governor General Literary Award-winning Stand on the Sky. She lives in Kitchener Ont., works for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and writes out of her garden shed.

Why she wrote How to write at the end of the world“I normally write for the page, not the stage, but I wrote How to write at the end of the world specifically to perform at Home Truths, an International Women’s Day event at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener, Ont., where I live.

“I wrote it in part on a long airplane flight home from visiting my father, whose health is uncertain and who lives far away. I felt weightless in the air, suspended, dislocated. There was some fear in me because I’m not sure I will see my father again, and in all of us because this was the last moment before air travel shut down due to the coronavirus. I knew in a few days I would be reading alongside refugees. I wrote this poem out of that sense of fear, looking forward, loss, family and resilience.”

Adriana Oniță is a poet, artist, educator and researcher based in Edmonton. (Submitted by Adriana Oniță)

Adriana Oniță is a Romanian Canadian poet, artist, educator and researcher. She is the editorial director of the Griffin Poetry Prize and the founding editor of the Polyglot, a multilingual magazine of poetry and art. She writes poezii în limba română, English, español, français and italiano. Her recent poems have appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Humber Literary Review and in the Romanian Women Voices in North America series. She is the author of the chapbook Conjugated Light. Currently, she is completing her PhD in language education at the University of Alberta and divides her time between Edmonton and Italy.

Why she wrote Untranslatable: “When I moved to Edmonton from Romania in elementary school, I felt so much pressure to assimilate, that within a few years, I almost completely lost my mother tongue. Since then, I’ve felt this desperate ‘dor,’ or longing, for limba română. Writing these bilingual poems has helped me reclaim my Romanian. When we lose a language, we don’t just lose words, but also their embedded wisdom — ways to marvel, grieve, heal, pray, curse, banter and remember. In this series of poems, I try to translate ‘untranslatable’ Romanian words. Each word is like a compressed zip file and poetry is incredibly fun because it opens up endless ways to fail and succeed at translating the untranslatable.”

Bola Opaleke is a poet from Winnipeg. (Femi Osho)

Bola Opaleke is the author of Skeleton of a Ruined Song, which won the 2020 Thomas Morton Memorial Prize for poetry. A few of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Prairie Fire, Frontier Poetry, Rattle, the Nottingham Review, the Puritan, Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, the Indianapolis Review and Canadian Literature. He holds a degree in city planning and lives in Winnipeg. He is currently the arts community director with Winnipeg Arts Council’s board of directors.

Why he wrote The Morgue in my Tears: “Some wounds never heal, they hide. I started writing this poem a few years ago. Six times I have completed it — or seemed to have — and all six times I ended up tossing it. But during the pandemic, it became, as Jericho Brown said, ‘a gesture toward home’. I wrote this poem to avenge myself against the guilt swallowing me up and against the forgiveness stuck in my throat.”

Charlie Petch is a poet, playwright and musician based in Toronto. (Alessandra Naccaratto)

Charlie Petch is a disabled, queer and transmasculine multidisciplinary artist. A poet, playwright, librettist, musician, lighting designer and host, Petch was the winner of the League of Canadian Poets’s Golden Beret Award for lifetime achievement in spoken word. They’re also the founder of Hot Damn it’s a Queer Slam. Petch is a performer, mentor and workshop facilitator. In 2021, they are launching Why I Was Late with Brick Books and Medusa’s Children, a libretto, with Opera Q.

Why they wrote Hey You Lucy Liu“The gender inclusive washroom set on Ally McBeal, my crush on Lucy Liu and decolonization.”

Natalie Rice is a poet and a MFA candidate at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan living in Kelowna, B.C. (Adrian Hunt)

Natalie Rice is a poet who is currently in the MFA program at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Her work has appeared in the Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, Event, the Dalhousie Review, the Malahat Review, Contemporary Verse Two and Lake: Journal of Arts and Environment. She was published by Gaspereau Press in the Devil’s Whim chapbook series. Rice lives in Kelowna, B.C.

Why she wrote Murmuration“I was inspired to write this poem when I noticed a starling nesting in the side of my house. I was intrigued by the story of their introduction to North America and how they have since impacted species like the Northern Flicker. I wanted to tell the story of starlings in the Okanagan, a valley lineated with orchards, wineries and development. 

“Starlings are often seen as pests, especially to the fruit industry. I am really interested in the complex ecological relationships within the Okanagan and I wanted to juxtapose the beauty of a starling murmuration with the impact they have on this region.”

Allana Stuart is a poetry and fiction writer living in Ottawa. (Submitted by Allana Stuart)

Allana Stuart was once a CBC Radio journalist and is now a writer of poetry and fiction. She is also the producer of the podcast Rx Advocacy. She was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ont. and at her family’s cabin in northwestern Ontario. She spent several years in northern British Columbia and currently lives in Ottawa, with her husband and two children. Her poetry has been published in Goat’s Milk Magazine and Orangepeel Literary Magazine. When Stuart’s not writing or reading, you can find her rollerskating in her basement.

Why she wrote The End of the Line“This poem began as a lecture I gave to my children when they were complaining during a short snowshoeing trip last winter. I reminded them that my Grandad had started trapping when he was even younger than my eldest, often spending days snowshoeing alone through the wilderness. I began jotting down some of the imagery that brought to mind, interspersed with my own memories of my grandfather. The result is, I hope, a piece that paints an accurate picture of him, demonstrates how deeply he was loved, and explores the complexities of loss and legacy.”

Emily Swinkin is a poet and neurologist from Toronto. (Gillian Murch)

Emily Swinkin is a poet and a neurologist. A native of Toronto, she traveled the country during her medical studies but always found herself pulled homeward. She currently lives in her hometown, where she practices and teaches neurology at the University of Toronto. This alternately inspires and hampers her sporadic writing habit. Her poetry has been published in a variety of journals including Acta Victoriana, the University of Toronto Magazine and the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Why she wrote Water“I love having plants around but was having terrible luck keeping a cactus alive. It started looking worse and worse so I tried watering it more and eventually it started to rot and died of over-watering. It struck me that I didn’t know anything about caring for succulents, and this was a metaphor for many relationships in life and medicine.”

Justin Timbol is a writer from Mississauga, Ont. (Adriel Feria)

Justin Timbol spent the last four years in Windsor studying other subjects before returning to Mississauga, Ont. to write. His work has most recently appeared in the Maynard, Maganda and Wandering Autumn. He is currently a student at the Humber School for Writers.

Why he wrote Table Manners: “Of all the ways we cultivate bonds with our families and heritage, I think cooking may be the strongest and most accessible. Food is one of our links to the past, but there are still many extenuating circumstances that can fracture the relationships we build with our culture.”

Kayal Vizhi is a writer and poet currently living in Toronto. (Submitted by Kayal Vizhi)

Kayal Vizhi is a writer and poet born and raised in South India and Sri Lanka. She is currently residing in Toronto. Her stories time travel, occupy many geographies, question the validity of borders and are ultimately borderless. Her short story Fat with Love was published in Room and her nonfiction story Salt was shortlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize in 2015. Vizhi has shared her poetry in various storytelling forums in Canada and the United States. Vizhi is currently working on a collection of lyric essays.

Why she wrote Tuxedo Court“Migration”

Alison Watt is a painter and a writer who lives on Protection Island in Nanaimo, B.C. (Submitted by Alison Watts)

Alison Watt is a painter and writer who lives on Protection Island in Nanaimo B.C. Her first book, The Last Island, a Naturalist’s Sojourn on Triangle Island won the Edna Staebler Award for creative nonfiction. She has published a book of poetry, Circadia, and a novel, Dazzle Patterns, which was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award.

Why she wrote Addendum —”Flora of a Small Island in the Salish Sea: “As a naturalist, I often turn to field guides. Since I trained as a biologist, over the years I have come to understand that the scientific paradigm has left us estranged from other living things. In the effort not to anthropomorphise, the emotional content has been stripped from the natural world. These poems are a response. Imagine a field guide with not only a scientific description but also a poetic one.”

A. Light Zachary is a writer, editor and teacher living in Toronto and Grande-Digue, N.B. (Submitted by A. Light Zachary)

A. Light Zachary is a writer, editor and teacher. They were awarded a fellowship in poetry by the Lambda Literary Foundation and a writing studio fellowship at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Their new chapbook, I build it better, will be released in late 2021. Zachary is autistic and bigender. They live between Toronto and Grande-Digue, N.B.

Why they wrote Two Girls: “To survive my conservative all-boys high school, I had to smother and neglect my queer, bigender reality. In the years after leaving that environment and beginning to understand myself, many of my former friends came out as transgender or non-binary, too. I often think about how sad and beautiful it was for us to find each other in friendship and in love before we knew who we were or what was drawing us together. This is not an autobiographical poem, but it was inspired by that experience.”

Why they wrote Why bury yourself in this place you ask“After Hurricane Dorian hit New Brunswick in 2019, I wrote the first ten lines on my phone while clearing debris from my family’s land. I had just returned from Toronto, where I often present as transfeminine, but back east, I became the dutiful man others needed. I thought of my Acadian ancestors who walked the same paths, wondering, ‘How many were like me? Lived as men, simply because there was too much to do?'”

Leave a Comment

Advertise