CBC Literary Prizes

plaques: that they by Sophie Edwards

Sophie Edwards has made the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for plaques: that they.

2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Sophie Edwards is a writer, geographer and environmental artist based in Kagawong, Ont. (Submitted by Sophie Edwards)

Sophie Edwards has made the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for plaques: that they.

The winner of the 2021 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. 18 and the winner will be announced on Nov. 24.

If you're interested in the CBC Literary Prizes, the CBC Nonfiction Prize opens in January and the CBC Poetry Prize opens in April.

About Sophie Edwards

Sophie Edwards is a geographer and environmental artist. Her poetry has appeared in the Capilano Review, Arc Poetry and the Pi Review, among other publications. Her chapbook and video poem crystal + clay was published by Blasted Tree Press. Gap Riot Press produced River Writes, a visual poetry postcard series. Her work has been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She's done residencies at the Purdy A-Frame, Sage Hill and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She lives on Mnidoo Mnising on Manitoulin Island, where she gardens and writes.

Entry in five-ish words

"archival intervention, negotiating settler be/longing"

The poem's source of inspiration

"While walking a river trail outside of Mattawa, I read a plaque about the settler history of the area. We'd arrived at the trail via a road called Peaceful. 'Reading' the landscape, it was clear that the area had been logged and later regenerated, but nothing in the plaque spoke to the displacement of the Anishinaabeg from the area.

"It reminded me of the plaques down the road from the house I lived in with my daughter in Little Current, on Manitoulin Island. The plaque described how the Abbotosaway that ran the mill had 'chosen to relocate'. Plaques are sites of power and often erase the quiet and overt violence of colonization. 

Plaques are sites of power and often erase the quiet and overt violence of colonization.

"A few years back, I led a project in Kagawong that involved the curation of a sculpture and plaque trail. We went through a challenging and painful process to negotiate every word in the plaques to include the history and impact of settlement and colonization in the community. One of the colonial directives was for settlers to take over waterways, ports and other sites where it was possible to generate power for mills and to facilitate trade and settlement.

"These sites, of course, were all occupied by Indigenous peoples, as they are usually important for fishing, harvesting and gathering. So, this poem speaks to these processes of writing and rewriting history, conjuring the house we lived in that had been the main office of the Abotossaway sawmill in Little Current, and touches on this complex love of place that is negotiated as a settler in an occupied landscape."

First lines

That this is third, maybe fourth growth. That the old growth hardwoods
were logged out and sent downstream. That red pine was planted and
has taken over, and that the birch — the wiigwaas — is being choked
out and that the spruce budworm has also invaded and so the spruce
tops topple in high winds. That there are signs of a microburst and that
some pines have branched out many branchlets. That there is a road
called Peaceful, that there is the idea that nothing has happened here.

About the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize

The winner of the 2021 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 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January. The 2022 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

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