2017 JESSAMY STURSBERG POETRY PRIZE

2017 STURSBERG WINNERS GRAPHICCongratulations to all the winners of our 2017 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize! We were blown away by all the submissions this year, and we’re so excited to have the six winning poems published right here on our website. As an added bonus, we sat down with the four young writers behind the poems to learn a little more about them and their work. In a fun turn of events this year, in both the junior and senior categories, one poet authored both the second- and third-place poems! All submissions are blind, so we and our jurors were just as surprised and delighted to find out the final slate of winners as they were.

Thank you to our jurors for the senior category — Sue Chenette, Kevin Spenst, and Aaron Tucker — and the junior category — Raoul Fernandes, Richard Kemick, and Jacob McArthur Mooney — for their hard work in selecting these six winners and four honourable mentions. Without further ado, we present your 2017 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize winners:

SAMANTHA CHEN: “Gray”
First place, junior category

“Gray” inhabits a psychic space that is complex, restless, and wise. …Time is a main character on this windsept stage, touching and affecting everything. –Juror Raoul Fernandes

Read “Gray” here.

ALYSSA FU: “Anarchy After the Barbershop B&E”
First place, senior category

This sparse poem depicts violent aftermath with startlingly subtle and clear imagery, allowing the reader to view and evaluate the scattered remains of a barbershop’s bizarre corpse and arrange the surreal tableau from the objects of the text, rather than relying on the prior drama of the robbery. —Juror Aaron Tucker

Read “Anarchy After the Barbershop B&E” here.

CHRISTINA CHEN: “Winter”
Second place, junior category

“Winter” is a poem that traffics in simplicity.A poem that doesn’t try too hard to reach for an epiphany but finds one anyway and treats it like a clean, cold fact. –Juror Jacob McArthur Mooney

Read “Winter” here.

FARAH GHAFOOR: “How to Look at the Sun”
Second place, senior category

The voice in “How to Look at the Sun” moves with confidence and fluidity, sustaining a fine balance between an almost-submerged narrative and images that both mask and convey it.This is a poem that engages us in a resonant complexity of experience and leaves its remarkable images echoing in the reader’s mind. –Juror Sue Chenette

Read “How to Look at the Sun” here.

CHRISTINA CHEN: “Swollen”
Third place, junior category

“Swollen” packs a laudable amount of meaning into these sparse yet revealing lines. …Overall, “Swollen” shows a poet who operates with restraint, specificity, and originality. — Juror Richard Kemick

Read “Swollen” here.

FARAH GHAFOOR: “The Moth”
Third place, senior category

As a poem “The Moth” burns bright with visceral similes and metaphors, stunning rhetorical effects and electric language that hums. Confidence in a confluence of ideas and images runs through the poem from start to finish and the lushness of the entire effect draws one back to the poem for multiple readings. –Juror Kevin Spenst

Read “The Moth” here.

AGAM AULAKH: “For a flower to bloom”
Honorable mention, senior category

STEPHANIE JANE BRUZZI: “A Girl”
Honorable mention, junior category

ORLA McELROY:Glenview Estates, Tallaght, Ireland
Honorable mention, senior category

Molly Anne Robson: “Hatshepsut”
Honorable mention, senior category