Literary Prizes·CBC Literary Prizes

Tourists Stroll A Victoria Waterway by Cornelia Hoogland

Cornelia Hoogland has made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for Tourists Stroll A Victoria Waterway.

2017 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist

Cornelia Hoogland is a poet and author based on Hornby Island, B.C. She has released numerous books and has been published in many notable anthologies. (Hennie Aikman)

Cornelia Hooglan made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for Tourists Stroll A Victoria Waterway

She will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will have her story published on CBC Books.

Alessandra Naccarato won the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize for Postcards for my Sister.

If you're interested in the CBC Literary Prizes, the CBC Nonfiction Prize opens on Jan. 1, 2018.

You can read Tourists Stroll a Victoria Waterway by Cornelia Hoogland below.


                          Reena Virk (March 10, 1983–November 14, 1997) was a bullied murder
                          victim. Swarmed by girls and one boy, she was drowned under the Craigflower
                          Bridge at the end of the Gorge waterway in Victoria, British Columbia.

The double-decker. The preserved,
random address book:
Tiffany, Jasmine, Jill, Crystal, Kelly, Warren.

Clouds the colour of tea, afternoon,
the Inner harbour. Journal and English schoolgirl
​Nivea cream in her backpack.
She was finding her voice like the social worker said.
She hadn't written a word. Was found
inscribed on Portage Inlet, Craigflower Bridge,
the last overpass before the cigarette
​stubbed into her forehead. Call it Bindi,
her mother said, but black. There were
​Greyhound busses rolling past the Empress,
girls gliding through the school halls
​on platform heels, saying No you're not.

Great grandfather Pallan worked
​the rock quarry that became Butchart Gardens.
Limestone dust in the seams
​of leather satchel, in laces and notebook,
a fine powder whitening his lips and lashes.
In Punjabi Reena means mirror.
Like her social worker said, her voice
​in her backpack. Now sealed in a box
​in a vault in a cellar
​at the courthouse on Burdett:
also Samantha's yearbook, Hannah's perfume,
Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren. Empty
​bottle, broken youth
​shelter, bus shelter, detention
​centre, group home, Kiwanis, Seven Oaks'
ward of the state on her way to a party.
The party. I'm here to fight. A girl.
Her name starts with an R or an S.

Waiting hours in the candy aisle
​at Mac's, and nobody. 
Blue nails on the rotary dial in the phone booth,
ring around a boy, girls. Ten,
twenty calls a day, trying to fit in
​gangsta rap, Ice-T's Just Watch What You Say 

                          while we all fall
​like the sky that November night, down,
the Russian satellite in fireballs.
The exploding rocket ricocheting
​earth's atmosphere five, six times. Swarming
​in parallel procession. On the wet fields
​of Shoreline high school, girls
​pointed up, screaming, a glut of calls
​to CFAX 1070. Horse-drawn carriages
​along the Gorge under the shattered sky.
Inarticulate sleeves pulled
​over her hands, the dive team searching,
sifting through the murk, Careful.

CRIPS scrawled on her indelible wrist.
Fourteen-year-old blank looks, cool disgust
​and pity and hatred with its sidekick
​Exhaust jeans, Mossimo sweatshirt. Made to pay.
Every time we kicked, she puked blood.
Her body's address book of schoolgirls 
shuffling in the hallway outside courtroom 402.
Then it was over and her wrist,
phoning, phoning, phoning.

Times-Colonist free swimming lessons
​in the protected Gorge inlet
​within biking distance, Mount Doug,
even Mount Tolmie.
Veering toward desperate;
a big, dark let-me-in girl
making up stories, clinging
​to eel grass. Which girl
​had a parent? What happened
happened to lips, head, eyes,
old world wrist twisted
​fists, taunts and jeers,
the communal inseparable
​from the child, the arms' down, the dark
​white-capped mountains in the distance.
Kayakers pass through Victoria and Saanich
​before reaching Portage Inlet,
then Craigflower Bridge, last pass
​before the loamy bottom.

Read the other finalists:

About Cornelia Hoogland:

Cornelia Hoogland's Trailer Park Elegy, a book-length poem, is her seventh book. She was shortlisted for the 2012 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize. She was also a finalist for the Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry, The Malahat Review's Long Poem Prize and the Winston Collins / Descant Prize for Best Canadian Poem.