Enter the Long Poem Prize
Canada's favourite long form poetry contest is back!
While the deadline is still a "long" way away, we encourage you to start writing before the holidays sneak up. How long is a long poem? We're looking for a single poem or cycle of poems between 10 and 20 pages long (360 to 720 lines in total). No restrictions as to subject matter or aesthetic approach apply.
Two prizes of $1,000 will be awarded, and both winners will be interviewed for the Malahat's website and newsletter. Winning poems will appear in the Summer 2017 issue.
Three judges will make the final cuts: Louise Bernice Halfe, George Elliott Clarke, and Patricia Young.
Read on for interviews with each of the contest judges!
Full contest information on the Malahat website.
Louise Bernice Halfe
Malahat poetry board intern and UVic Writing student, Celina Silva, discusses realism, the self-conscious versus encompassing first person narrator, and cross-language poetic practice with Long Poem Prize judge, Louise Bernice Halfe.
CS: One thing I love in your newest book of poetry, Burning in this Midnight Dream, is how potently rooted in the "I" the poems are. And it is an "I" which is unapologetic and unflinchingly moving towards the epicentre of the speakers' trauma and grief. I often find in writing first person that I fear being exclusionary, or that I am limiting myself. Do you have advice for writers who are also writing in first person and how to navigate the confessional first person poem, as well as how to carry the "I" throughout a larger piece of work?
LBH: If you are limiting yourself in the "I" then that is a form of self-consciousness and censorship. There is no need to be "exclusionary," for there are ways to include "others" without pointing a finger to the person(s). There is a world out there with many characters, many situations and many dreams that one can incorporate in the "I" voice. The "I" doesn't have to be the personal but can be many people.
Read the rest of Louise's interview on the Malahat website.
George Elliott Clarke
Malahat books reviewer and east-coast writer, John Stintzi, delves into sonnets, epic poetry, and literary traditions—and their counterparts—with Long Poem Prize judge and current Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke.
JS: Being yourself a poet who has come over to the dark side, having written the novel George and Rue, I'm curious: what similarities and differences do you see between the novel and the long poem versus their slimmer kin?
GEC: This question is august, gargantuan, impossible…. I can only come at it as a poet who has written two verse-novels, namely, Whylah Falls (which is, technically, a narrative lyric suite), and I & I (which could be read as a mini-epic or epyllion). I've also just published the first half (at 460 pages) of my first book of my epic trilogy, Canticles. Canticles I (mmxvi) and (mmxvii) is a 900-plus-page epic of lyric pieces, but I still claim it as being an epic because my study of the form tells me that the epic can be any longer-poem (or set of poems as in Pound's Cantos) that is a narrative or the worrying of a theme, a thesis…
Read the rest of George's interview on the Malahat website.
PRISM international's executive editor of promotions, Curtis LeBlanc, talks with Long Poem Prize judge, Patricia Young, about patience in long-form poetry and the benefits of blind judging in creative writing contests.
CL: The long poem has had its place in Canadian verse for a long time now, and many contemporary collections contain poems of ten-plus pages—or are themselves lyric sequences from beginning to end. What are some of your favourite long poems?
PY: I greatly admired Marilyn Bowering's Anyone Can See I Love You and Stephen Scobie's McAlmon's Chinese Opera when they came out. Until I'd read those collections, I'd never thought of poetry as a long narrative. I didn't know that you could tell the story of a life in a book-length series of poems. Katherine Lawrence's latest collection, New Mind, includes a series of exquisite poems, which also add up to a life, the life of an early woman pioneer. The individual poems in her book build upon each other, move backward and forward. And of course there's Michael Ondaatje's Collected Works of Billy the Kid, again a series of poems, which is in effect a long poem.
Read the rest of Patricia's interview on the Malahat website.