CBC Literary Prizes

Field Guide by Lisa Baird

Lisa Baird has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Field Guide.

2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Lisa Baird is a writer from Guelph, Ont. (Vanessa Tignanelli)

Lisa Baird has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Field Guide.

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 Lisa Baird

Lisa Baird is a writer, a community acupuncturist and a queer white settler living on Attawandaron/Mississaugas of the New Credit territory (Guelph, Ont.). Her poetry appears in various journals including Arc, Rattle, CV2, Plenitude and Grain. She is a contributor to the Lambda-award winning anthology The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Healthcare and to GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos for our Times. Her first book of poetry, Winter's Cold Girls, was published in 2019. She is at work on her next book.

Entry in five-ish words

"A poem about two pandemics."

The poem's source of inspiration

"My friend Sophie fatally overdosed in March 2020. Two days after her memorial, the provincial government declared a state of emergency and ordered all non-essential businesses closed.

"Sophie had debilitating migraines, turning to illegal drugs for pain relief out of sheer desperation. If we had a safe supply in Guelph — that is, a supply of clean regulated drugs such as medical-grade heroin, available by prescription — Sophie would still be alive. Decades of evidence shows that the decriminalization of drugs saves lives (and money). Backward, punitive drug policy kills people like Sophie. This loss cuts deep. 

Grieving Sophie from the earliest days of COVID-19, first in shutdown and now in this bizarre new world in which I have not been able to hug a single other person who also loved Sophie, is surreal and painful.

"Grieving Sophie from the earliest days of COVID-19, first in shutdown and now in this bizarre new world in which I have not been able to hug a single other person who also loved Sophie, is surreal and painful. This poem emerged as a raw attempt to make sense of something."

First lines

The 2020 edition of the Field Guide to Grief
covers a wide range of sorrows. Chapters
on bushfires, locusts, coping with a culture 
that wants you to get over it in six months. 
Oddly specific passages: what to say 
into the silence after you ask for a shovel, 
having arrived trembling at a dinner party, 
the still-warm body of the fox you just ran over 
seeping red onto your arms. An expanded 
section on grieving while parenting — the toddler 
who imitates your laugh, doesn't know 
the difference between laughing & crying: 
HAW HAW HAW whenever you crumple 
on the kitchen floor.

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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