Aspiring Canadian Poets Contest
Recognizing and Developing Unpublished Canadian Poets

Announcing George Elliott Clarke














Canada's new Parliamentary Poet Laureate
as our Contest Judge & Mentor in 2016

George Elliott Clarke has issued 14 poetry texts, 4 verse-plays, 3 opera libretti, 2 novels, 2 scholarly essay collections, and 2 edited anthologies.  His plays and operas have all been staged, and his 2 screenplays have been televised.  He has 3 titles in translation: 1 in Chinese; 1 in Romanian; and 1 in Italian.  He lives in Toronto, but still owns property in his homeland, Nova Scotia. He is the E.J. Pratt professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto.

Acclaimed for his poetry, opera libretti, and novel, Clarke has also won laurels for his pioneering work as a scholar of African-Canadian literature.  His honours include The Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry (1991), The Portia White Prize for Artistic Excellence (1998), A Bellagio Center (Italy) Fellowship (1998), The Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry (2001), The National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry (2001), The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award (2004), The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize (2005), The Frontieras Poesis Premiul (Romania, 2005), The Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction (2006), The Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (2009), Appointment to the Order of Nova Scotia (2006), and Appointment to the Order of Canada (2008).  Clarke has also received 8 honorary doctorates. He served as the 27th William Lyon Mackenzie King Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University, in the Department of English, 2013-14.  After completing his term as the 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15), Clarke was appointed the 7th Parliamentary [National] Poet Laureate (2016-17).  His newest book is The Motorcyclist, a novel (HarperCollins Canada), but also new are Extra Illicit Sonnets (Exile), which is amatory poetry, and Gold (Gaspereau), a miscellaneous collection.

For our official press release announcement on CNW, A PR Newswire Company, click here.


Thank you Stuart Ross!
Our Contest Judge & Mentor in 2015

Stuart Ross published his first poetry pamphlet on the photocopier in his dad’s office one night in 1979. Through the 1980s, he stood on Toronto’s Yonge Street wearing signs like “Writer Going To Hell,” selling over 7,000 chapbooks. He is the author of more than 15 books of fiction, poetry and essays, most recently the poetry collections A Hamburger in a Gallery (DC Books, 2015) and Our Days in Vaudeville (Mansfield Press, 2013), collaborations with 29 poets from across Canada. You Exist. Details Follow. (Anvil Press, 2012) won the only prize given to an anglophone writer in 2013 by l’Académie de la vie littéraire au tournant du 21e siècle. Three of his poetry books have been shortlisted for the ReLit Prize, and his short-story collection Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books, 2009) won the prize in 2010. His novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew (ECW Press, 2011) won the 2012 Mona Elaine Adilman Award for Fiction on a Jewish Theme.

Stuart’s many chapbooks include three released in 2014—Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead (Puddles of Sky Press), A Pretty Good Year (Nose in Book Publishing) and In In My Dream (BookThug)—and others from Room 3O2 Books, The Front Press, Apt. 9 Press, Silver Birch Press, Pink Dog Press and his own Proper Tales Press, which he launched 36 years ago. He is co-translator of My Planet of Kites, by Marie-Ève Comtois (Mansfield Press, 2015).

Stuart is a member of the improvisational noise trio Donkey Lopez, whose CDs include Juan Lonely Night and Working Class Burro. He is a founding member of the Meet the Presses collective, which administers the bpNichol Chapbook Award, and has his own imprint, “a stuart ross book,” at Mansfield Press. Stuart has run poetry workshops in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the Northwest Territories, and coaches writers one-on-one through Skype. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario, and blogs at bloggamooga.blogspot.ca.


Thank you to poet Catherine Owen!
Our Contest Judge & Mentor in 2014

Catherine Owen lives in New Westminster, BC. She is the author of nine collections of poetry, the most recent being Trobairitz (Anvil Press 2012), Seeing Lessons (Wolsak & Wynn 2010) and Frenzy (Anvil Press 2009). Her poems are included in several recent anthologies, among them Forcefield: 77 Women Poets of BC (Mothertongue Press, 2013).
Her collection of memoirs and essays is called Catalysts: confrontations with the muse (W & W, 2012).

Frenzy won the Alberta Book Prize and other collections have been nominated for the BC Book Prize, the Re-lit, the CBC Prize, & the George Ryga Award. In 2011-2013, she wrote five songs for the eco-musical Awakening the Green Man, collaborated with multi-media artist Sydney Lancaster on Nest, served as an art model and writer for photographer Paul Saturley’s Pandemonium project, created a poemsong duo, The Lyrical Outlaws, and started a blog at blackcrow2@wordpress.com called The Relentless Adventures of OCD Crow.

Owen edits, tutors, works on the TV show, Arrow, plays bass in Medea, runs Above&Beyond Chapbook Productions, and lives by the Fraser River. In 2014, ECW will release her book of elegies, Designated Mourner.
Her web home is catherineowen.weebly.com.


Thank you to poet Shannon Bramer!
Our Contest Judge & Mentor in 2013

Shannon Bramer is a poet and playwright. In June 2011 she enlisted the help of celebrated Toronto publisher BookThug to create Think City: The Poems of Gracefield Public School. She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, The Refrigerator Memory, with Coach House Books. Her first play, MONARITA, was produced in St. John's, Newfoundland in March 2010 and has since appeared in festivals across the country. Her new play, The Collectors, will be appearing at the Toronto Fringe Festival in July 2013. Currently she is at work on a new poetry manuscript entitled PRECIOUS ENERGY.

Visit Shannon's blogs at http://brokencloudcompany.wordpress.com and http://poetintheplayground.blogspot.ca


Thank you to our Inaugural Judge, poet Catherine Graham,
for judging contest entries in 2012 and mentoring contest winners in 2013.
You made this contest and new opportunities for aspiring poets possible!

Catherine Graham is the author of Winterkill (Insomniac Press, 2010) The Red Element (Insomniac Press, 2008) Pupa (Insomniac Press, 2003) and The Watch (Abbey Press, 1998). Her poetry has appeared in literary journals in North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland and has been frequently anthologized.

Catherine Graham started to write poetry as a way to explore and make sense of the death of her parents, whom she lost while she was an undergraduate student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. But what began as an outlet for her grief transformed into a passion of its own. She followed this passion to Northern Ireland, where she studied poetry and was influenced by a community of poets and the strong commitment of the Irish people to their writers. While in Northern Ireland, Graham earned an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and published her first collection of poetry. Her work was broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and anthologized in The White Page / An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth Century Irish Women Poets (Salmon Publishing, 1999). In 2000, Graham returned to Burlington, Ontario, where her poetry is now included in a permanent art installation at the city's Downtown Waterfront Project.

Graham now lives and writes in Toronto, where she teaches creative writing, designs and delivers workshops on creativity for the business and academic community and is Marketing Coordinator for the Rowers Pub Reading Series.

Visit www.catherinegraham.com and also have a look at our interview with Catherine for Ottawa Life Magazine at http://www.ottawalife.com/2013/12/author-mentor-an-interview-with-catherine-graham/.