Congratulations to the 2021 Winners of the Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize. The jurors were incredibly impressed with the quality of poems submitted this year, and we thank everyone who shared their poetry with us— we know the future of professional poetry in Canada is in good hands!
The Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize for Canadian Youth was established to foster a lifelong relationship between Canadian youth and the literary arts, specifically poetry. The prize is supported through a generous donation from the Stursberg family and other donors in honour of Jessamy Stursberg. The prize accepts submissions from young poets all across Canada, with three prizes awarded in both the Junior (grades 7 to 9) and Senior (grades 10 to 12) categories:
Second Place: $350
Third Place: $300
WINNERS: Jessamy Stursberg Senior Category
Jury: Melanie Flores, Grace Lau, JC Sulzenko
First Place: How to Write a Poem by Angela Cen
From the jurors: This is a well-crafted, highly original work. The poet’s use of metaphor and hyperbole is masterful and evokes an abstract, yet very real, impression. A pleasure to read and savour
Second Place: jiaozi by Vanessa Chan
From the jurors: This poem’s gift is its tenderness, an offering of nostalgia drawn from the poet’s memory. It is a wonderful balance of creative metaphors, vulnerability, and reflection. A pleasure to read and reread.
Third Place: grapheme-colour glossary by Izabella Salih
From the jurors: A poem of surprising originality, elegance of craft and form, and close attention to grammar, with the bonus that it’s whimsical and amusing.
Jessamy Stursberg Junior Category
Jury: Laura Cok, Samantha Jones & Matthew Stepanic
From the jurors: We were impressed by the breadth of work and attention to form and style that came from such a young and diverse group of poets. The entries were a snapshot of what concerns young writers today: social media, the pandemic, becoming themselves, relationships with family, and more. After reviewing all of these incredible entries–many of which we wish we could have also included–we’re excited to see more work from this very talented next generation of poets.
First Place: Seaweed Soup and a Happy Birthday by Mark Kim
From the jurors: In “Seaweed Soup and a Happy Birthday,” the poet’s careful and developed craft is on full display. This poem showcases not only their ability to use plain language to delve into their personal history, but they also know how to pack a punch in a stunning image and spend the full value of a five-dollar word. The poem’s thoughtful form and phrasing made it a clear and unanimous first choice for all of us.
Second Place: undefined variables by Michelle Masood
From the jurors: In “undefined variables,” a simple lunch scene is deconstructed by the speaker searching for meaning by sloughing off the things it is not. We loved the strong imagery, the inventive style, and the way the speaker keeps moving towards an essential truth just out of reach, and nearly grasps it.
Third Place: I am a woman by Nida Atique
From the jurors: The potent imagery in “I am a woman” immediately grabbed our attention. We loved the way that the colour red was used as an anchor to connect different scenes from a life story. The volta at the end of this piece is a revelation that left us thinking long after we put the poem down.