CBC Literary Prizes·CBC Poetry Prize Finalist

To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable by Brad Aaron Modlin

Brad Aaron Modlin has has been shortlisted for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize.

The poem was inspired by the hope that comes with spring

Brad Aaron Modlin is a poet from Guelph, Ont., and teaches creative writing in Nebraska. (Submitted by Brad Aaron Modlin)

Brad Aaron Modlin from Guelph, Ont., has made the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable.

He will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and his work has been published on CBC Books.

The winner of the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize will be announced on Nov. 24. They will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and will attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity.

Modlin is a creative writing professor and poet. His work has been used for orchestral scores, an art exhibition in New York, and has been featured on The Slowdown with U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón and Poetry Unbound from public radio's On Being Studios. His book Everyone at This Party Has Two Names won the Cowles Poetry Prize. 

To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable was inspired by the hope that comes with spring, Modlin told CBC Books.

This poem began out of that late-winter feeling: you haven't seen grass for so long you almost don't believe in it anymore.- Brad Aaron Modlin

"My next book is about our difficult, fragile, favourite world. About hope and why we need it. This poem began out of that late-winter feeling: you haven't seen grass for so long you almost don't believe in it anymore. But the fact it's been so long means spring is almost here, right? Probably? We need that green," he said.

You can read To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable below.


As in, if the people there like everyone, even 
the ones they are not related to, if they like
strangers and budding plants, like to hum the songs 
in each other's heads, like food 
too much to chew it, and too much not 
to share, if they like to be alive
more than to bomb or be bombed, like 
visitors, like thirst, like letting it last
ten extra minutes to up the thrill of water, 
brush their mouths with baking soda 
so their next drink tastes sweet, if their games
do not name winners and losers, if no
one must deadbolt a door behind them in fear, 
if no child or adult hears, I did not invite you 
to my party
, if people do not exchange 
paper and say, This paper is worth 
so many's unhappiness
, if no
night outlasts a day, if no
one oversleeps for sadness, or if 
they do, someone — it's a network
better than any antiquated phone tree —     
some appointed friend lies atop the quilt, 
beside the sleeper and waits, matching 
their inhales and exhales,
            and no one wakes alone.   

So far away and so down
here, we're all rooting for you,
astronaut. We squint toward your ship,
which must be — must be — 
traveling somewhere overhead. 
We rise from these creaky beds 
in our empty rooms 
and stretch the curtains wide. 


Read the other finalists

About the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize

The winner of the 2022 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 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January. The 2023 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

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