CBC Literary Prizes

Pteropus: Fruit Bats by Yvonne Blomer

Yvonne Blomer has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist with Pteropus: Fruit Bats.

2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Yvonne Blomer is a poet from Victoria. (Adrian Lam)

Yvonne Blomer has made the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Pteropus: Fruit Bats.

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 Yvonne Blomer

Yvonne Blomer is a poet and author. She is the author of the travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur and the poetry collection As if a Raven. She edited the anthologies Refugium: Poems for the Pacific and Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds. Her poems were recently shortlisted for the 2020 Montreal Poetry Prize and the 2019 Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Competition. Yvonne served as the city of Victoria's poet laureate from 2015 to 2018. She lives and works on the traditional territories of the WSÁNEĆ (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation.

Entry in five-ish words

"Violence against women and nature."

The poem's source of inspiration

"I am working on a book-length manuscript titled Death of Persephone: A Murder Mystery and wanted to include poems about endangered species that are linked to the Greek mythological goddess Persephone, because she is a goddess of seasons and the natural world. Bats are linked to Persephone, perhaps because they too move between dark and light. Like Persephone, bats are endangered, and we have come to learn that COVID-19 may have come from bats who carry many viruses which they shed when sick or stressed. One of the major stressors for bats is humans.

In this poem, I draw parallels between the destruction of the natural environment and the creatures we share it with, and the continuous violence enacted upon women in myth and in reality throughout history.

"Persephone is endangered when her Uncle Hades 'abducts' her, which is a Greek/mythological way of saying he raped her when she was around the age of 12 (or younger). In this poem, I draw parallels between the destruction of the natural environment and the creatures we share it with, and the continuous violence enacted upon women in myth and in reality throughout history."

First lines

1.

The feet of the fruit bat are the small hands
of a human child. The nose, a dog's nose. Calm
in the year of the rat, keeper of balance.
Watchful dog; ever watched bat.

Thumbs and fingers, soft dermis
of membrane.
Can the elongated hands
of the bat be attentive?
Can the wingspan?

Blame the bat when humans falter.                           
Blame the wolf or fox
when chicks get eaten, while farmers'
fences encroach into ever-wild spaces.

Blame the girl,
her uncle's obsession.

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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