Congratulations to Frida Purdon and Kelsey Tishinki, who placed third in our 2016 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize! We’re excited to share their poems with you today, as well as a brief interview with Kelsey. The prize is awarded annually through the Jessamy Stursberg Youth Poetry Trust Fund, sustained by a generous donation from the Stursberg family and other donors in honour of Jessamy Sutrsberg. The prize was established to foster a lifelong relationship between Canadian youth and the literary arts–specifically poetry–in honour of Jessamy’s lifelong love of poetry. The prize awards six student poets across two categories: the junior category, for students in grades 7 to 9, and the senior category, for students in grades 10 to 12.

Find the full awards announcement here.

“The Wind’s Face” by Frida Purdon
Third-place winner in the junior category

The Wind runs through the trees.

She runs as if she is on fire, as if she is escaping herself.

She is free. She is flying.

It is beautiful to watch her move this way, she is part of everything,
and yet, completely her own creature; she is one of those people you
see on the streets, the colour of cigarette ash and their eyes wandering
aimlessly, and you wonder where they live and what their life has been
like, and what their name is. They mouth a word as if trying to remember
a shopping list their mother gave them long ago.

The Wind is proud, but she is beleaguered.

The Wind dances and falls, she makes the leaves of the trees applaud, and the
wispy hair of the people chase after her until they must be tucked behind ears.

She is a collector; she picks up everything she can carry and spins with them
in her dance, her dance that no one can match. Pop cans, dry cleaner receipts,
leaves, seeds, anything she can find. They dance together, the Wind always
singing to the earth’s rhythm, always off-key, her lyrics always better. But she
always loses interest and discards the trash on the cold sidewalk, and they
watch her go with the taste of bitter sadness in their mouth.

Once a year, the Wind returns home. She is tired from all her travels and all the
things that she has seen and will never be rid of. She is coated in life’s residue.
She wants to be renewed. She wipes herself clean of all that has happened and
returns to her bed fresh and blank. For a night she is no one.

For the next year she will be redrawn, the world claiming her. Every whisper
gives her a scar.  The world carves her. Her  identity is not her own to choose.
Without this life around her, the harshness, she is faceless.

The Wind has seen many things. She has felt many things. She has heard many
things. Everything is a pin dropped into a well: the scent of your perfume, the
word you wished you had never said, she carries it all with her. It is all her burden.
This makes her life’s most magnificent sculpture.

“Promise Breaker” by Kelsey Tishinski
Third-place winner in the senior category

When we first started dating
you held my hand
and saw my addiction
up and down my arms
you made me promise
from that day forward
I would never again
hold a razor in my hand

A couple months later
you made a promise yourself
you said we would be together forever
no matter what happened
we would talk everything out
and stick together through thick
and thin

A year later
you broke your promise
with five words saying
“this isn’t going to work”
and I learned that you are a promise breaker
and I have a bad habit
of following in your footsteps

kelseyKelsey is a 16 year old grade 11 student in the French immersion program at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She began writing poetry at the age of 13 through school assignments. It was then that she developed a love of poetry. One of her poems was published by the Poetry Institue of Canada at the age of 14. “Promise Breaker” was the third poem she has entered into a young writers contest. She recently returned from a 3 month French exchange program in Besançon, France. She studied French poems and poets while attending Lycée Louis Pergaud. Since she has returned, Kelsey is currently expanding her knowledge by writing slam poetry and plans to perform her first poem in May.

How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poetry since I was 13. It started with a school assignment in middle school.

Who are some of your favourite writers? What are some of your favourite books?
Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Bukowski have always been some of my main favourites. To whoever is currently reading this, I highly recommend the book One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Book Thief.

How do you see writing and poetry being a part of your life over the next several years?
University is right around the corner so I plan to take creative writing and English courses. Writing poetry is also a coping mechanism for me so it will always play a large part in difficult situations I will face in the future.

If you could give other students one piece of advice about writing, what would it be?
Write from the heart. Write about what makes you smile, cry, scream and yell. Deep in your heart is where you will find all the right rhymes, words, and rhythm. I guarantee it.

What is your favourite thing about poetry?
The amount of freedom that comes with poetry. There are no restrictions when it is just me, the pen and paper. I could write a 2 lined poem or a 50 lined poem. I could rhyme or I could cut off my own sentences with the next. The possibilities are endless.