CBC Literary Prizes

Mother, What Should We Do? by Claire Kelly

Claire Kelly has made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Mother, What Should We Do?

2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Claire Kelly is an Edmonton-based author and poet. (Matt Quiring)

Claire Kelly has made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Mother, What Should We Do?

About Claire

Claire Kelly lives and writes in Edmonton, Alta. Her first full-length collection, Maunder, was released in spring 2017. She curated a chapbook of emerging Edmonton poets for the Frog Hollow Press City Series. Her poems have appeared in journals throughout Canada, including The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, Poetry is Dead and The Puritan. Her second book will be released in 2019. 

Entry in five-ish words

Dead piled in Morse code

The poem's source of inspiration

"I wrote this poem after the gas attacks on Syria, when President Trump seemed to need his daughter to reveal to him that children being gassed was sad and awful and angering. I got to thinking about how women are asked to do the emotional work and to create narratives that can put horrors to the side so that lives can continue. I got to thinking how culpable that makes us. What narratives are we continuing? Which 'strong man' are we propping up?"

First lines

War warnings huddle in my mother's tea leaves,
not anything phallic, no tomahawks or AK-47s,
no such armouries, but underfed victims
piled atop one another like childhood sunburns.   

Acrid smoky tea casts signals along my taste buds,
Lapsang Souchong, a forgotten connection
in Morse code.

In Partnership With


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