CBC Literary Prizes

5 writers make the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist

Read the five works contending for $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The winner will be announced on Nov. 24, 2022.

The winner will receive $6,000, attend a writing residency and have their work published on CBC Books

Top row: Rachel Lachmansingh and Brad Aaron Modlin. Bottom row: Luka Poljak, Kerry Ryan and Bren Simmers. (See individual photos below for credit)

Five writers from across Canada have made the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist. 

The finalists are:

The winner will be announced on Nov. 24. They will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

The remaining four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.

All five finalists had their work published on CBC Books. You can read their poems by clicking on the links above.

This year's finalists were selected by a jury comprised of Armand Garnet Ruffo, Megan Gail Coles and Hoa Nguyen. They will also select the winner.

The longlist was compiled by a team of writers from across Canada. There were more than 2,200 English-language submissions. 

The shortlist for the French-language competition has also been revealed. To read more, go to the Prix de poésie Radio-Canada.

Last year's winner was Vancouver poet Lise Gaston for her poem James

If you're interested in other CBC Literary Prizes, the 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January and the 2023 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

Get to know the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize English-language finalists below.

From the Mouth by Rachel Lachmansingh

Rachel Lachmansingh is a Guyanese Canadian writer from Toronto. (Sarah Lachmansing)

Rachel Lachmansingh is a Guyanese Canadian writer from Toronto. She's been published in Minola Review, Grain, the Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, The Puritan and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing her BA in creative writing at the University of Victoria.

Lachmansingh was also longlisted for the 2022 CBC Short Story Prize for The Window of a Stranger's House.

Why she wrote From the Mouth: "I'm the daughter of two Guyanese immigrants and have Arawak lineage on my mother's side. I'm a mixed-race person who was born in Canada, which means I sometimes struggle to feel directly connected to my ancestors.

My poems were a means to connect with my great-great-grandmother, an Arawak woman whose stories I've been told since I was a child.- Rachel Lachmansingh

"My poems were a means to connect with my great-great-grandmother, an Arawak woman whose stories I've been told since I was a child. However, access to the language itself online is quite limited; my poems reflect what accepting that felt like at the time. This is currently a large theme in the poetry collection I'm drafting (also titled From the Mouth)."

To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable by Brad Aaron Modlin

Brad Aaron Modlin is a poet from Guelph, Ont., and teaches creative writing in Nebraska. (Submitted by Brad Aaron Modlin)

Brad Aaron Modlin's poetry has been the text for orchestral scores, the springboard for an NYC art exhibition and the focus of episodes of The Slowdown with U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón and Poetry Unbound from public radio's On Being Studios. His book Everyone at This Party Has Two Names won the Cowles Poetry Prize. He has participated in residencies with the Banff Centre, Artscape Toronto Island and Biophilium in Gatineau. He wrote/read/sang a poem for a concert with Symphony Nova Scotia and stayed on key. A creative writing professor, he teaches undergraduate and graduate students.

This poem began out of that late-winter feeling: you haven't seen grass for so long you almost don't believe in it anymore.- Brad Aaron Modlin

Why he wrote To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable"My next book is about our difficult, fragile, favourite world. About hope and why we need it. This poem began out of that late-winter feeling: you haven't seen grass for so long you almost don't believe in it anymore. But the fact it's been so long means spring is almost here, right? Probably? We need that green."

Mouth Prayers by Luka Poljak

Luka Poljak is a poet based in Vancouver. (Ian Redd Photography)

Luka Poljak is a Croatian Canadian poet currently in the BFA program at the University of British Columbia. He is a board member of the non-profit YouthCO and is currently working on his first chapbook of poetry. 

As a young queer poet, I want my work to highlight the dichotomy of both the injustice and the incredible beauty of being a gay man in Canada in this day and age.- Luka Poljak

Why he wrote Mouth Prayers"In light of the recent 'Don't Say Gay' bill that was passed in Florida, I find it more important than ever to explore the queer identity in my work. As a young queer poet, I want my work to highlight the dichotomy of both the injustice and the incredible beauty of being a gay man in Canada in this day and age. Mouth Prayers is my attempt at that.

"I also want to give thanks and acknowledgement to the works of Billeh Nickerson, I am a miner. The light burns blue by Victoria Chang and the book This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt for inspiring this poem."

Grief white by Kerry Ryan

Kerry Ryan is a poet from Winnipeg. (Jeope Wolfe)

Kerry Ryan has published two books of poetry: The Sleeping Life and Vs., which was a finalist for the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies across Canada. Her third poetry collection, Diagnosing Minor Illness in Children, is forthcoming in spring 2023. She lives and writes in Winnipeg.

Ryan was previously longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2020 for Driver's Seat & Grief Knot

I wrote this poem to record the time around my friend's death and my experience of grief and dislocation.- Kerry Ryan

Why she wrote Grief white: "I wrote this poem to record the time around my friend's death and my experience of grief and dislocation. Mundane chores and making decisions seem ridiculous and impossible in the face of loss. Writing this poem, making art out of something so senseless, was a way of grounding myself. And I can't help but think my friend would have been tickled pink to have found her way into a poem!"

Spell World Backwards by Bren Simmers

Bren Simmers is a writer from Prince Edward Island. (Mike Needham)

Bren Simmers is the author of four books, including the wilderness memoir Pivot Point and Hastings-Sunrise, which was a finalist for the Vancouver Book Award. Her most recent collection of poetry is If, When. She lives on Prince Edward Island.

Simmers was previously longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2013 for I Blame MASH For My Addiction To MLS and in 2012 for Science Lessons.

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2017. As I started writing about her deterioration, I became interested in how language is affected by the disease.- Bren Simmers

Why she wrote Spell World Backwards: "My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2017. As I started writing about her deterioration, I became interested in how language is affected by the disease. In this series, I try to mimic some of the looping, nonsense words and holes in her speech. As she progresses into late-stage Alzheimer's, it has become increasingly difficult to communicate with her, outside of touch. She still loves to dance though!"

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