EXCERPTS FROM THE SHORTLIST: BENJAMIN HERTWIG

 

 

Night Convoy, Kandahar by Benjamin Hertwig

you pitch past market
.   stalls backlit
like nativity grottos
.   in prairie
catholic churches

where men in bare
 feet knead flour
into naan
 share tea
the news of the day

swerve around
 skitter of dogs
garbage and meatsmoke
 wide-eyed children
pastel face of night

traffic circle
.   circumference
throws the edges
 of equilibrium
then lets go

open road
 acceleration
deceleration
 washing machine hum
roadside fires

milk-cool air
 days after christmas
blanket weight
 of protective plates
on your chest

like the smell of rain
 and woodsmoke
in your parents’ backyard
 like a mother
puts you to sleep.

from Slow War by Benjamin Hertwig, shortlisted for the 2018 Raymond Souster Award
McGill-Queen’s University Press | 2017 | 134 Page | $16.95 | Purchase online

Benjamin Hertwig is a National Magazine Award winning writer, painter, and ceramicist, born and raised under big prairie skies and currently living on unceded Coast Salish territory, Vancouver. As a child, he liked sports publicly and books privately. Since graduating from high school, he has spent time as a soldier, a student, a bike courier, a treeplanter, an inner-city housing worker, and English instructor. His first book of poetry, Slow War, was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award. Benjamin believes in the transformative power of art—visual, verbal, spiritual —and the groundedness that community provides.