CBC Literary Prizes

Let's Not Bring The Will Into This by Amanda Merritt

Amanda Merritt has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Let's Not Bring The Will Into This.

2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Amanda Merritt is a poet based in Victoria. (Niki Durkan)

Amanda Merritt has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Let's Not Bring The Will Into This.

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 Amanda Merritt

Amanda Merritt is a poet based in Victoria. Her debut collection, The Divining Pool, was shortlisted for the 2018 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Amanda was honoured to be among Aesthetica's 2017 annual creative writing finalists, and to have won the 2015 Anstruther Poetry Award. She was also shortlisted for the Malahat Review's 2014 Open Season Award. Her poetry has been published in both U.K. and Canadian journals, including Stand, Descant and Prairie Fire. In another life, Amanda was the founding poetry editor for the online literary magazine The Scores.

Entry in five-ish words

"Responsibility for life and legacy."

The poems' source of inspiration

"Two of these poems deal in large part with my decision to terminate a pregnancy last autumn. They explore a (cis) woman's biological right and responsibility to choose whether or not to carry a child to term, and the inherent burden and blessing in this choice. They question what it means for truth and doubt to be a somatic experience, and extend beyond this specific quandary to concepts of familial and cultural legacy, of what we leave behind, of what we learn in being left behind. More broadly, these poems draw from the literal and metaphoric inheritance we, as individuals and a collective, bear across geographic and generational lines. 

These poems wrestle with the incomprehensible fact of our moral failure to honour this most sacred truth, to recognise the difference between what is valued and what is of value.

"This responsibility for lives past, present, and to be, is the very cornerstone of our humanity. With the climate emergency looming large, and the world's lackluster response to the refugee crisis, these poems wrestle with the incomprehensible fact of our moral failure to honour this most sacred truth, to recognise the difference between what is valued and what is of value. Although this truth differs in content and degree from person to person, some common ground remains. It is the ground we share that is the real subject of the crisis we are undergoing: crisis at its root meaning 'to decide.' The choice before us is posed by the final line of the poem Let's Not Bring The Will Into This, 'because it all should be here shouldn't it?' The rhetorical question being not whether we have enough resources to overcome the obstacles we face, but whether we have the courage to take responsibility for the legacy we inherit and bestow."

First lines

Let's Not Bring The Will Into This

because a lesson in want is a cable of brass
             sweet as rainwater from a wheel well
and highly conductive
              these summer greens and cured meats
all local and organic as divisions of conscience
become matters of fact on the road to the promised
land and grow wild beneath the spokes of desert gates
which spark like bad stars in a hurricane like the plot
of my new opera-fandango with a generous supply
of port and water chestnuts we can survive this
                                    dolmade? tomato grape?

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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