Congratulations to "I Don't Need I Love Yous" by Cindy Patrick, winner of the 2023 Lesley Strutt Poetry Contest!
This poetry award carries a $500 prize, and is in memory of poet and friend Lesley Strutt.
Thank you to our 2023 judge, Carolyne Van Der Meer!
“There were so many fine poems submitted to the Lesley Strutt Poetry Prize that it was difficult to choose a winner—which is why there are several Honourable Mentions.
But the winning poem, ‘I Don’t Need I Love Yous,’ met all my criteria for a standout piece. Above all, I loved its complexity—the owl, what its wingspan represents, the fact that, initially, we don’t know who the ‘he’ is to the speaker—and how she cleverly leads us to his identity. The meanderings about physical folds, squished and tweaked breasts, intestines, dragsters and quilted jackets offer a multi-layered story of an ‘ungrand’ grandparent. And the end, bringing us back to the wingspan, and the value, the power of belief in oneself—and that final unexpected rhyme—ultimately make for a brilliant poem that meets all the markers of good storytelling, while demanding of the reader to fill in the gaps, and feel what the speaker is not telling us.”
About Cindy Patrick
Cindy lives on Vancouver Island, observing Mother and human nature. Seeking no formal education, she is ever in her formative years. Her poems appear in magazines like Blank Spaces, Subjectiv, High Shelf Press, and Griffel.
About our Judge
Carolyne Van Der Meer is the author of four published books: Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience (WLUP, 2014); Journeywoman (Inanna, 2017); Heart of Goodness: The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems | Du coeur à l’âme : La vie de Marguerite Bourgeoys en 30 poèmes (Guernica Editions, 2020); and Sensorial (Inanna, 2022). Her poetry and prose have been published in journals internationally. She lives and writes in Montreal, Canada.
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"Ithaka" by Leah Bobet
"Parc Ex Morning" by Marianne Jones
"Do You Know About the Flowers on the Corner of Saint-Antoine and Berri" by Misha Solomon
I Don’t Need I Love Yous
We didn’t know what kind of owl it was.
He told them the wingspan was so massive
we could fit inside. Enveloping gray, downy
arms. A wrap of warm fog. But I know he
doesn’t do hugs. He doesn’t want to be told
I love you. It’s a capital responsibility. So,
I am needy for holding and telling. He can’t
take the hurt of a physical fold. He loves me
by convincing me his duodenum is swollen
and his wingspan isn’t as big as I think. I got
tricked by others who hugged me. Squishing
my breasts to memorable distress. Thoughtless
about my intestines. I was being “a miss”, taken
for someone who gets a say. Just now, I didn’t
express disdain for the 1953 dragster his grandpa
built nor sadness about the mice tossed out on
their asses from the field engine. Grandpa
tweaked my tit. Everyone looked away. I didn’t
squeak when he handed me flat root beer, no ice,
because he said the family didn’t trust ice machines.
There it was. The quilted jacket he bore. Data
scraps rivetted hand to hand, by grand or un
-grand parents. Welded so tightly he couldn’t
raise his arms. Or screech higher than the
family tree. He might never figure it out- but I
just did. With my wingspan I can hug myself
and never be uneasy. Fly away like the owl,
without turning around. My wings not required
to make any sound.
The Lesley Strutt Annual Poetry Contest
Launching in Summer 2021, the Lesley Strutt Annual Poetry Contest is a contest that provides a 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.