CBC Literary Prizes

Entering the CBC Poetry Prize? Here are 3 writing tips from the 2019 jury

Lynn Crosbie, Olive Senior and Billy-Ray Belcourt share their advice for aspiring writers.
From left: Lynn Crosbie, Olive Senior, and Billy-Ray Belcourt. They will judge the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize. (Laura Jane Petelko, David Helman, Tenille Campbell)

Lynn Crosbie, Olive Senior and Billy-Ray Belcourt are the judges for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize.

The CBC Poetry Prize recognizes unpublished Canadian poetry. The winning author will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their work published on CBC Books. Four finalists will win $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

To help you prepare your submission, CBC Books asked the jurors for their best writing tips.

1. Read outside your genre

Lynn Crosbie says: "Good writers read but they don't steal. Read books certain not to influence you."

2. Know your intention

Billy-Ray Belcourt says: "Think of the poem as a unit of X, where X can be accusation, condemnation, revelation, bewilderment, romanticization, etc. This way, the emotional and/or intellectual rhythm of the poem will likely be more discernible to your readers. Put simpler: What does the poem want? What sorts of demands does it make of the world, of life, of the subject? Or, how does it register the demands of the subject, of life, of the world?"

3. Cut the clutter

Olive Senior says: "The best writing advice I have ever received is 'Cut!' Tough but worth heeding. We always start off with too many unnecessary words, phrases, flourishes."





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