Her Music by Jude Goodwin

I spend a portion of each day in the music of our child. She rushes home, drops coat and books on the table, before her snacks, before her laptop, she pulls the bench out, a loyal friend waiting waiting worn and wobbly for her return, she pulls the bench out … [click for more]

Left Coast Poetry Beat: DTES Writers’ Collective

Column by Bill Arnott Western Canada’s poetry scene teems with talent, from neophytes to award-laden laureates. Authors of every facet share spoken word, competitive slam, and rapier-sharp contemporary as writers and fans converge in person, print, online and on airwaves. This is not a list of writing/reading groups or events. It’s subjective, … [click for more]

On the Nature of Intelligence by Penn Kemp

Rewilding my senses to catch up with yours beyond thought and  logic into the realm of scents.  A musky note on the dark side of lunar new. Ears sharpened to tips. Eyes accustomed to shifting dusk.  No extrasensory perception yours, heightened to distinguish illusion from moving shapes, from fright.  A … [click for more]

2019 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize: Winners!

The League of Canadian Poets would like to wish a heartfelt congratulations to all the incredible winners of the 2019 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize! This year, we received a record number of three-hundred and eighty-one submissions and we’re so excited to publish the six winning poems right here on our … [click for more]

The day after you left by Angelina Shandro

the day after you left was like curly haired boys shouting from the back of a pickup truck, souvlaki smouldering and hissing at the waterfront, waves exposing their white flesh, moments before striking concrete.   like a girl’s hesitation before she boards the rickety bus to Athens, like vagrant dogs sniffing … [click for more]

Calabash by Max Zhang

When we were small we would walk in between the cold, dying firs, past the fissures in the sides of the grain silo without saying a single word. The slide came into view first and we tested our speed, flannel jackets  dropping onto the frosted grass as we tore up … [click for more]

The Sky Between Two Roofs by Jamie Wang

There were two roofs. One was black, one was grey. In between them was a sky. Sometimes, the sky seemed so far away. Sometimes it was near. On hot summer days, The clouds would drift aimlessly between the two roofs, While a breeze swirled around white petals that settled in … [click for more]

All Purple by Jonathan Chu

The sky here is purple.  On a good summer’s day, .                          you can hear the flick .              slip of koi dipping out of pitch. Raindrop shatters .            … [click for more]

Reflections in Kermanshah by Nazanin Soghrati

the sky yawns us into existence  spits the lonely image of our crumbling  bodies onto the barren desserts of Kermanshah.  my mother and I are huddling forward towards  some unnameable future hand in hand, awaiting  our past to come and grapple us by the throat uncertainty lurking underneath the thick of our … [click for more]

I Am by Sophie Choong

                i am  tired  of all the  madness and rage and fighting  from the one day when i chose to  wear my sister’s skirt to a New Year’s party  and my mother said i was  no child of hers.    i am  sick  of … [click for more]

Bibliophilia by Kayla Czaga

I am very avant-garde in what I use for bookmarks. That look on your face would do. A clump of my hair in a pinch. At sixteen I dumped coffee into Jane Austen and still she crackles open to a botched proposal. I am a monster dogearer. I use Joan … [click for more]

Event Horizon by Ali Kisat

I roll into day. Twenty-something waiting to leap into the gasps of age, to hurl myself like a chaffinch off a high branch. I do not stop to think this through. The bed is left tossed. I navigate bare walls and my eyes are closed. Of course, the day is … [click for more]

The Dogs are Coming by Juliane Okot Bitek

I hold my madness to my chest after the dogs have gotten here I hold my madness to my chest because chest madness is silence everywhere else God in the basement drunk & it’s only just past noon God in the basement in bits & I’ve failed to put him … [click for more]

How We Spent Our Childhood by Erin Kirsh

Slid, thighs squeezing mahogany banister, mother screaming father shrugging, candy-cream light through dusk-smudged windows, slid, hit post, tailbone supple, dismount, charge up carpeted stairs, slip, stampede up on all fours, rug burn pinking palms, swing thin, sparsely-haired legs, brave from childhood, over the wood, do it all again until mother … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: What keeps you going as a writer?

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and -of course – poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. *** What keeps you going as a writer?   Mikko Harvey: Writing is one of my … [click for more]

Postcard: a desert sestina by Jennifer Zilm

Hey you!—this postcard, like every other, is just fragment of a larger journey. Stepping over the threshold of the plane, I entered this hot room of a country. Seen entire the desert seems soft but the sand is sharp to touch, like turning hard snow with bare hands when I … [click for more]

THE SHORTLIST IN CONVERSATION: Adam Dickinson & Alice Major

The Shortlist in Conversation is a series in which poets shortlisted for the League’s 2019 Book Awards engage with each other’s works and talk poetry. In this installment, Adam Dickinson, author of Anatomic (Coach House Books) and Alice Major, author of Welcome to the Anthropocene (University of Alberta Press) – both collections shortlisted … [click for more]

The Gully by Deanna Young

It lives behind the house, it hums and sighs. A snaking creek where willful souls are wont to wander, die. This is the fear. The greenish water tinged with tears of sorry children, who did not listen, but waded in, soiled skirts held high. In spring, the rains, unleashed, mob … [click for more]

Mythological Dinner by Laura Ritland

We order steamed fish for the moon goddess. My grandmother’s prayers to the lord flap like dried eel from the low chandeliers: O lead me to His House. I am far from home. Tonight, we are heathens in a restaurant dying in an English-tongued town and my grandfather’s spirit pounds … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: Community

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and -of course – poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. ***   What is the importance of community to your writing life?   Jenny … [click for more]

Mother, Order Apple by Dani Couture

The radio reports there are no apples this year, so you drive to the closest orchard and ask for apples. I would like to buy apples. When the man at the chained gate tells you there are none, you say: I want apples. You tell him there have always been … [click for more]

Excerpt from Ledi by Kim Trainor

Every morning I wake at dawn and watch the blue light seep through cracks and blinds, like water all around. It trickles through sockets, into my mouth, my throat, until I am filled with light and can see the cage of bones, damp heart, dark venous blood at wrist and … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: How did poetry become part of your life?

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and -of course – poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. ***   How did poetry become part of your life?   Tanis Franco: In Ontario … [click for more]

Flame by Jim Nason

Rooster learned to swallow flames by watching Swan in bright red suit. Crooked Swan, Orangutan King smirked. Such a nasty woman. On top of his stilt-legs draped in pink fringe, wearing green-gold head feathers and red tail extensions, Rooster juggled a ballet, a coin, and his new torch. Crow hovered … [click for more]

Excerpt from Tar Swan by David Martin

Gentlemen, say Alexander Mackenzie once netted an Elephant by the jugular, a vein he blotted ashore, and ashore he cajoled a catheter up its trunk, a trunk that smelled of sea coal. Believe me, he never imagined his mammoth-heir would become Nature’s Supreme Gift to Industry and tender its body … [click for more]

In medias res by Alice Major

Alas poor child, you’re born in medias res – the stage is set with swirling depictions of a globe in panic, small rainbow-coloured frogs hopping into oblivion, a scene of smoggy atmospheres, vast gyres of plastic churning in the ocean, Scylla and Charybdis, sailors screaming from their boats, soldiers raising … [click for more]

REVIEWING THE SHORTLIST: Ledi | By Kim Trainor

Book*hug | 2018 | 108 Page | $18.00 | Purchase online Reviewed by Jennifer Zilm Reviewing the Shortlist is a weekly series in which poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards review books written by their peers. Join us for this series until the award winners are announced on June 8, … [click for more]

I welcomed the wound & by Stevie Howell

I was ready early. I was wearing that dress. The wound would take me somewhere, then deliver me back to the step & b/c we met I became wound’s home, a nest. Home is the only word, really, if you think about it. Wound is its synonym. God’s first act … [click for more]

A Minor Excretory Organ by Adam Dickinson

.       Lead (Blood): 1.36 ug/dL   It’s easy to feel detached. But it’s easy to eat someone else’s stray hair in a salad. This is globalization. You can raise a glass of water to adulthood, confident you’ve done everything right, but still the companies are counting on us to … [click for more]

B-Line Espial by Shazia Hafiz Ramji

A silver flake from the surveillance cam above me fell into my lap on the bus. It was not made of light, but I don’t know where it disappeared. In my glimpse of espial, I saw the necessity of doubling, so I waited to see myself in all the people … [click for more]

Adaptation by Tess Liem

.                                                                    Am I supposed to believe— when I see this poster advertising the adaptation of Anna Karenina from … [click for more]

First Death in Nova Scotia by Jenny Haysom

Have you seen Nancy? My mother took me by the shoulders and shook me. Nancy was younger, but in the country it was common for children of all ages to play together. An unadulterated boredom was our lot; gravel road and level sea, the dour fortitude of spruce. No doubt … [click for more]

Vial by Mikko Harvey

I was having blood drawn again, undergoing testing for my mysterious ailment. The phlebotomist and I inhabited the usual mix of small talk and silence— then she giggled. What is it? I said.      It’s just, isn’t this strange? she said, holding up a vial of my blood. To see what … [click for more]

anthroposcopy by Tanis Franco

the skull is a cage or carriage with skin stretched over like a map on a globe. the forehead is a plain scarred with grooves from a plough. the eyebrows are islands of leaning spruce trees. irises are twin dormant volcanoes, the pupils are craters of ash. the nose resembles … [click for more]

excerpt from Someone other than else by Klara du Plessis

As night slips into sunlight and images reveal their artists, home assumes a wondrous sense of otherness. I say important things with my lips pressed up against the rim of a vase, whisperingly inarticulate. Cardiac is an unpleasant way of thinking of the heart, textbook bedside manner, considering love thumping … [click for more]

A Love Note for Yellowknife by Kim Fahner

.                                                after Terry Pamplin   Wild car rides, these roads swinging around corners that surprise, climbing up laneways that press themselves into being, imprints on  hills, on … [click for more]

Blankets by Félix Ruiz de la Orden

and yet I feel for the music in the distance moving towards the motionless us conspicuously caught dynamic digits climbing and descending time tricks reset the tape four to the B bee to the flower waiting for it assured nourishment this one goes up tones sing direct to entrances disguised … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: What are you reading?

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and -of course – poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. *** What are you reading?   Tanis Franco: Obabakoak by Bernardo Atxaga; Days by Moonlight by André … [click for more]

mend in the balsam by Mackenzie Ground

tourists visit our camp mark our noted authenticity note our marked authenticity lacking there never hunted môswa just books with prose statements that shatter me this existence the struggle of guilt never feel political enough never feel anonymous enough never .           establish .        … [click for more]

Excerpt from how it is by Mercedes Eng

  Copyright © Mercedes Eng. Originally published in The Capilano Review (3.35, Spring 2018).   – Mercedes Eng teaches and writes in Vancouver, the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. She is the author of Mercenary English (CUE, 2013 & Talonbooks, 2018) and Prison Industrial Complex Explodes (Talonbooks, … [click for more]

Chinatown by Leanne Dunic

First, there were them, and them, and them. Then more. Faces mixed. Sepia, camel, chestnut, and caramel. A pocket here, a clan there. Whole communities disappeared.     And now there is me. I will draw you some maps.                   Birthmarks: some … [click for more]

Brine by Mallory Amirault

Feeling bad for ourselves is a coin operated hobby.         The bank is a 45 minute drive from the home.                                                       … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: Writing practice

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and -of course – poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. *** Do you feel that you’ve found a writing practice that works for you? … [click for more]

Resurgence by Ashley Hynd

the sequence of events is unclear still somewhere between the taste of limes and shit I almost understood history—in the dream .                        I am chasing manidoo-waabooz .                        he … [click for more]

Eye Tattoo by John Creary

She got a smoking deal .           on an eye tattoo by an unlicensed artist .           and now it’s buttered with puss, horribly infected. .           She can barely open her eyes, leans blindly into remorse, .        … [click for more]

Husbandry by Nancy Lee

Dogs in the gully are slow to rot. Their corpses rigor, insects ripple fur, my hands part a veil of flies. Mongrels are no match for the gardener’s light touch on his rifle. His devotion to our hens slickens my heart, itches in the back of my neck. A boy … [click for more]

in descent by Daniel G. Scott

there are days  meant for descent   but as i go down  there is an ocean in the basement   it laps against the furnace pulses in and out of the storage room, tidal   flotsam of memory bumps against the tool rack and wall   outside is dry but the bottom of my life is … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: Writing lessons

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and -of course – poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. ***   What lesson that you learned through a creative writing course/workshop/lecture sticks with … [click for more]

Last Words by Katherine Pilon

  Copyright © Katherine Pilon. Honourable mention in the 2019 National Broadsheet Contest from the League of Canadian Poets.   – Katherine Pilon is a student at York University, studying in both the English and Creative Writing programs. Currently residing in Ontario, Canada, Katherine likes to drink coffee so she can … [click for more]

The Encyclopedia by Christine Smart

When I was a child, I read the science encyclopedia to find my origins. The fetus floating in a bubble, didn’t look like me, nor did the fin-tailed fish called spermatozoa. Watery, translucent, amoeboid, slick as albumin; ovum, sperm, fallopian sounding like flowers or foreign fruits I couldn’t grasp in … [click for more]

Ratatoskr by Alice Major

Ratatoskr, squirrel, scurries up and down the ash tree, his world-axis, Yggdrasil, heaven-wheel, winding spindle, one tree that transects the cosmos. His scold-chatter carries gossip and earthworm insults up to the raven that alights, folds wings like a wet umbrella, black at the topmost branch. This ash tree in my … [click for more]

it grows on trees by Rita Bouvier

the old Manitoba maple is a flutter of birds chirping, growing wings. a friend. it doesn’t talk much, just nods waiting for the next word to fall out of your mind and onto the page. it spreads its arms wide, reaching out in shimmers of green and silver, and long-lost … [click for more]

Rainforest by Barbara Black

. . . Nictitating eyelid sky omening leaf mould melancholia mollusc ruminating spores/ spruce pores sweat steamed [fungus]/ frog needles old man’s beard <musk> devil’s club seeps gloom.   Copyright © Barbara Black. Originally published in Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees (League of Canadian Poets, 2018).   – Barbara … [click for more]

#NPM19: Weekly Round-Up | WEEK FOUR

Overwhelmed by all the amazing National Poetry Month content coming out every day? Need a refresher? We’ll be rounding up our blog content, along with the awesome stuff our friends at Read Local BC, Open Book, All Lit Up, and CBC Books are releasing – plus other NPM news that catches our eye each week; all month … [click for more]

#NPM19: Canadian Independent Bookstore Day

In honour of Canadian Independent Bookstore Day – a day to support the amazing independent bookstores in our communities that help maintain a thriving book industry across the country – we’re sharing a selection of photos sent to us by indie bookstores all around Canada of National Poetry Month displays! … [click for more]

You may have heard by Joanne Epp

If your home is near a park, you’ll live longer. If there’s a plant in your hospital room, you’ll need fewer Tylenol 3s. If you walk in a forest, you will sleep more deeply. If you watch ducks float downriver under trailing willow branches, your distance vision will improve. If … [click for more]

ASK A SHORTLISTER: Literary Icons

We asked the poets shortlisted for our 2019 Book Awards some questions about their writing lives, inspirations and –of course– poetry. Join us for our weekly series Ask a Shortlister until the winners are announced on June 8, 2019. ***   Have you had the chance to meet your literary icon(s)? What was that … [click for more]

Being tree by Daniel G. Scott

imagine a whole life being in one place— centuries. roots press down grip soil, that soil, this earth, coil around rocks reach for moisture and wait.   no, not wait trees have no measured time but light with one kind of breathing and night with another breath, giving back. not … [click for more]

#NPM19: Guest Post | By Fenn Stewart

As many Indigenous leaders and writers have pointed out, the colonial falsehood that Canada was initially, or is essentially, a place of “wilderness” (in other words, empty of people) “underl[ies] a lot of the issues going on today, specifically aboriginal title and rights, land claims, the land question.”[1] This falsehood … [click for more]

Smoke bush by Veronica Gaylie

Instead of a tower above the town be a Smoke Bush. Be the treee that absorbs all. Know you are called to a higher purpose beyond your purple smoky leaves. Grow wild, wrap around rocks. Change the invisible air around you simply by being. Provide a place for birds to … [click for more]

2019 Book Awards: Shortlists Announcement

The League of Canadian Poets is proud to present the 2019 Book Awards Shortlists, including the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Raymond Souster Award. The winners – who will each receive $2000 thanks to funding from Canada Council for the Arts , Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and Canada … [click for more]

Shelterbelt by Brenda Sciberras

Amidst morning birdsong to capture all the light of day In spring, when sun thawed the ground we plant thousands of seedlings Ordered when snow sat on soil from Indian Head, Saskatchewan We map our Manitoba shelterbelt imagine the sun reflecting its array of colour Maple & Colorado Blue Spruce, … [click for more]

Blue ice, Lake Wonish, 1935 by Greg Santos

after the painting by Canadian painter Anne Savage (1896-1971)   The fog has befuddled this February day. Silent save my footsteps, bird laughter, wind. Turning to peek at our family cottage it is all but dwarfed by trees and new snow. Today all looks blue and peculiar. Jack Frost, a … [click for more]

#NPM19: Weekly Round-Up | WEEK THREE

Overwhelmed by all the amazing National Poetry Month content coming out every day? Need a refresher? We’ll be rounding up our blog content, along with the awesome stuff our friends at Read Local BC, Open Book, All Lit Up, 49th Shelf, and CBC Books are releasing – plus other NPM news that catches our eye each week; all … [click for more]

A frost crusted poplar by David Yerex Williamson

Following the erosion of cracked imagery on crooked page I snowshoed to the mouth of the river past the crisp site the fox patrols past the comfort of language past the abandoned trading post no words bouncing sounds through sites of empty names still air through tamarack blank drifts between … [click for more]

Sisters by Kate Marshall Flaherty

shush like nurses leaf-breeze shimmering, undersides silver-green. I feel your gnarled roots fingering deep into earth, as grounded as I wish to be.   .                Sisters, you who tickle .                heaven with slender tips, .      … [click for more]

Populus tremuloides by Al Rempel

where forest meets meadow there’s a stand of thin trembling aspen like a dowel shop squeezed between city businesses on the one hundred block and run by a mustached man who whispers to himself on and off at the cash register and sometimes leans out over the sidewalk and says … [click for more]

BIPOC Writers Connect: Mentorship, Networking, Training

We’re excited to be partnering with The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Ontario Arts Council to present BIPOC Writers Connect: Mentorship, Networking, Training, a half-day conference for Black, Indigenous, and racialized emerging writers on October 30, 2019. This conference is a chance to connect with industry professionals, funding officers, … [click for more]

#NPM19: Fresh Voices 16

Welcome to the sixteenth edition of Fresh Voices, a project from and for the League’s associate members. The League’s associate members are talented poets who are writing and publishing poetry on their way to becoming established professional poets in the Canadian literary community. We are excited to be taking this opportunity … [click for more]

Survival by Joan Conway

(For Noreen) the first cabin she built in the clearing where a cottonwood grew. chain sawed the trunk below earth’s level, covered it with soil and poured cement years later the floor cracked, out popped a small seedling she watered it, watched its courageous search for light. it did not … [click for more]

#NPM19: Weekly Round-Up | WEEK TWO

Overwhelmed by all the amazing National Poetry Month content coming out every day? Need a refresher? We’ll be rounding up our blog content, along with the awesome stuff our friends at Read Local BC, Open Book, All Lit Up, 49th Shelf, and CBC Books are releasing – plus other NPM news that catches our eye each week; … [click for more]

Next lifetime by Magie Dominic

In my next lifetime I will be a tree;  someone else can be the birds. I will be a branch holding birds,  an abundance of them; the tree old people lean against when they need to stop all their walking, where lovers carve words on a summer evening when they … [click for more]

Tree by Luciano Iacobelli

to me they were just tall blanks remote giants impassive as Nature itself I could never understand the big deal why so many fairy tales and art about so much leaf and bark but it was love that first made me really look at trees I’d come home from school … [click for more]

Review: Little Red | By Kerry Gilbert

Mother Tongue Publishing | 2019 | $19.95 | Purchase online Reviewed by Bill Arnott   Grey. That was the day. Like most November days in Vernon, BC. Bundling against cold, I made my way from Sveva Caetani’s pleasantly haunted mansion across a downtown where I lived, worked, and grew up … [click for more]

Late October woods by Glen Sorestad

I love autumn aspen woods – the clinging pungence .                                      of fallen leaves, a sudden sense of antiquity gathering in the nostrils like musty cellar memories, a constant reminder .      … [click for more]

#NPM19: The Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Announcement

  The reveal of the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist is a significant date on the calendars of all those interested in Canadian poetry; it is the world’s largest prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in English. Candidates are shortlisted in two categories: Canadian and International. The shortlist was released today, April … [click for more]

Decision tree by Monica Kidd

Take the candle to the woods. Place it at the foot of the tree bent ninety degrees by some previous insult and sheer bloody-mindedness. Hang the towel on the fence. Undress, never mind the westerly. Clouds are over the moon and there is all the time in the world. Open … [click for more]

Marks by Brian Henderson

Within a steep or stretched charm Slight variation circulates Going underground at the sigil Of the future aspen colonies That can be thousands of years old Though human-spanned trees but Not quite so fast the end all of each singularity Burst catkin departure Of a loved one as if Clouds … [click for more]

The banyan tree by Cheryl Antao-Xavier

Four generations nestled in arms like sturdy pillars. Nature’s hand had soared wildly creating a mammoth masterpiece. A powerful patriarch, the giant banyan tree. One by one its siblings fell to make way for urban sprawl. The banyan tree was the last to go, defiant spectre to the end. They … [click for more]