My Poem Makes the Long List for the 2016-2017 Ralph Gustafson Prize for the Best Poem

When you work (i.e. write) for hours on end–days on end–immersed in the solitary world of the writer (yes, it really is a lonely metier; not recommended to the faint of heart!), it’s sometimes nice to be acknowledged, even if briefly.

My poem, “Portrait of Helene Klimt”, made the long list for the 2016-2017 Ralph Gustafson Prize for the Best Poem (The Fiddlehead’s 26th annual contest), as announced today.

The poem draws on a Gustav Klimt painting. He captured Helene Klimt, his niece, when she was only 6 years old. What’s dizzying about her profile: while we are looking at a little girl’s head, we notice that it is deposited on a woman’s body.

In my eyes, his work evokes that stage of in-betweenness we all experience in puberty; that incessant anxiety of what’s next. The discovery, awe, and sometimes disgust with your own body. As the poem states:

…Morphologic fits
in your composition
unsettle. The slit
in your stroke, a trompe l’oeil, toys

with the principles of art, blurs laws
of bestiality. Her vision of herself:
not entirely woman, not really a peacock.

Congratulations to the rest of the long listed poets! Of the 347 poems submitted, the editors narrowed it down to 15. Here is the list from The Fiddlehead’s website:

Poetry Longlist

“Blessing the Boats” by Tammy Armstrong
“Fabric” by Dominique Bernier-Cormier
“Ocean.gif” by Dominique Bernier-Cormier
“S(w)ing-night” by Benjamin C Dugdale
“Tetanus, potpourri” by Benjamin C Dugdale
“Down the Roads (II)” by Harold Hoefle
“Tiller” by Annick MacAskill
“Portrait of 3 Colours” by Katie Murphy
“The Other End of the Telescope” by Mitchell Parry
“Portrait of Helene Klimt” by Branka Petrovic
“They called him Wing” by Pamela Porter
“Finnegan’s Wake” by Paula Jane Remlinger
“Superman: Phone Booths” by Paula Jane Remlinger
“Bluegrass” by Kim Trainor
“Claro” by Kim Trainor

Thank you to the editors who took the time to read all of the submissions and pick the long list.

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