IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS I’ve had the luck to judge several poetry competitions—both for individual poems and for books—in various parts of Canada. From the establishment to the emerging generation, from the formal to the experimental, Canada sure writes a lot of poetry. Reading it all was in turns pleasant, uncomfortable, exhilarating and maddening. That’s sort of all you can ask for: to be moved.
Ranking this sort of abundance of art, however, is a difficult task if you’re hoping to ensure a fair distribution of recognition. Luckily, I was not. The one task I set myself was to rank the poems I was given based on both how I reacted during the reading and how they left me changed after. Was I pulled through? Did my mind flash picking up on images and cues in the poem? Could I feel the words in my mouth even when I read silently in my head? Later, would I recall lines unbidden? Did images and ideas stick in my craw and make me worry at them in my own notes? Had I experienced something more than the act of reading?
The result of these criteria are the poems herein, and I hope you enjoy them and are affected by them as much as I was.