CBC Literary Prizes

All My Questions Kneel Down by Katherine Lawrence

Katherine Lawrence has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for All My Questions Kneel Down.

2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Katherine Lawrence is a writer from Saskatoon. (Saskatoon Public Library)

Katherine Lawrence has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for All My Questions Kneel Down.

The winner of the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

The shortlist will be announced on Nov. 5 and the winner will be announced on Nov. 12.

About Katherine Lawrence

Katherine Lawrence is the author of four poetry collections, including Never Mind which won the John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award and was nominated for Saskatchewan Book of the Year. Her young adult novel-in-verse Stay won the North American Moonbeam Award for children's poetry. A new collection of poems, titled Homebodies, is forthcoming. Lawrence's work has appeared in Best Canadian Poetry, The Windsor Review, Prairie Fire, Hamilton Arts & Letters, CV2 and Grain among others. She holds an MFA in writing from the University of Saskatchewan and is a former writer in residence with the Saskatoon Public Library.

Entry in five-ish words

"Questions without answers about love."

The poem's source of inspiration

"Poems occur to me via image, title, a single word. This poem dropped in with a line: Where there is love. I wrote down the four words and felt curious. Could I find my way into the enormous subject of love by way of inquiry? What would happen if I set myself the challenge of writing six interconnected poems that begin with the questions that a journalist must answer: how, where, when, who, what, and why?  

What would happen if I set myself the challenge of writing six interconnected poems that begin with the questions that a journalist must answer: how, where, when, who, what, and why?

"All My Questions Kneel Down became a meditation on love. Early drafts included question marks that shifted the tone so I replaced them all with periods. I suspected that the poem was reaching for wonder, not for answers, but it would be at least five years before I found the ending.

"During a holiday in Arizona, I spotted a flock of talcum-white egrets feeding near a pond at sunset. I watched from a patio as each long, thin angular neck began to resemble the very punctuation that I had resisted using in the poem. I thought, a gathering of question marks. I opened the poem when I returned home, moved the line into the final piece, revised once more, and finished the sequence."

First lines

i)

How my pulse quicks to the sound of your voice in from away. 

No bells, no knock, no warning, just the rush of wind breezing 

the back of my knees. I turn and in the turning. How wide open 

the door. How your long legs sweep across and into. All for me.

How greedy, how selfish. How giddy-up, get along, little heart.

Home from away. How you surprise. Every time. How once the

door was closed but now it's open. To everything. The green leaf

stemmed to your hatband and the lilac flower nodding. How you

flutter me in the deep embrace. How we stand locked inside adore. 

About the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize

The winner of the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

The 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January. The 2021 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

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