Judge’s Notes


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.

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