Winner of the 1st Annual Lesley Strutt Poetry Contest – “Tea Swamp Park” by Jacqueline Pearce

Congratulations to the winner of the 1st Annual Lesley Strutt Poetry Contest, “Tea Swamp Park” by Jacqueline Pearce!

The Lesley Strutt Poetry Contest is an award that provides a $500 prize for the single best poem submitted to our judges. This contest is open to all poets (professional, emerging, and first-time) in Canada, and is run each summer in memory of poet and friend Lesley Strutt.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our inaugural year, we already look forward to its return in Summer 2022. Thanks as well to our jurors, Sneha Madhavan-Reese, Claudia Coutu Radmore, Carolyne Van der Meer.

From our jurors, on “Tea Swamp Park”:

“Tea Swamp Park” captured and held our attention with its easy flow between alternating narratives and time frames, skillfully integrating clarity and hiddenness. We loved images like “twisted cookies/dipped in honey” and “in early summer the flowers/are like clusters of stars.” 

Jacqueline (Jacquie) Pearce is a Vancouver-based poet and children’s book author. Active in the haiku poetry community, Jacquie had two haiku tie for first place in the League of Canadian Poets inaugural haiku contest in 2018, a selection of her poetry is featured in A New Resonance 11: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku (Redmoon Press 2020), and she is editor of an international anthology of train-themed haiku, tanka, and rengay, Last Train Home (Pondhawk Press 2021). Jacquie’s most recent book for children is the nonfiction, What Animals Want (Orca 2021). A fascination with local and social history, nature, and intersections between these feature in much of Jacquie’s writing. She is also currently working on a collaborative research and translation project focusing on haiku written in Japanese Canadian internment camps. An article Jacquie wrote with project partner, Jean-Pierre Antonio, “Haiku in Tashme: The Legacy of Sukeo ‘Sam’ Sameshima”, won the Anne and Philip Yandle Best Article Award from the BC Historical Federation for 2020. 

Remembering Lesley Strutt 

The life of Lesley Enid Strutt (March 10, 1953 – February 3, 2021) revolved around her loved ones, her community and on poetry. One of her last wishes was to help establish an Award that would celebrate all three well into the future. Born in Quebec, she eventually called the town of Merrickville, Ontario, home.

Lesley’s own poetry was widely published in literary magazines and chapbooks, and Inanna Press, who published her Young Adult novel, On the Edge, in 2019, will publish her full collection, Window Ledge, in 2021, but one of her main interests was to wake up poetry in others, to stimulate new writing, and to share the joys of reading or listening to poetry. Her enthusiasm for new writers through the years she was Associate Representative on The League of Canadian Poets led to the creation of Fresh Voices, a space on the League’s website for poems only by associate members.

Her passion for trees gave her the idea of asking the League representatives of all regions of Canada if they would edit a section of an anthology on trees, which would be sold as a fundraiser for The League of Canadian Poets, and Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees was born.

In her last weeks she worked with a team of poetry-loving volunteers in Merrickville who have since raised, and continue to raise, thousands of dollars to support this Award. In this way, everything and everyone she loved comes together in gratitude for those who make poetry, or who simply love it.