Past winner David Martin gives 4 reasons you should enter the CBC Poetry Prize

The author of the poetry collection Tar Swan offers up his best advice for entering the CBC Poetry Prize.
David Martin won the 2014 CBC Poetry Prize for the poem Tar Swan. (David Martin/NeWest Press)

The CBC Poetry Prize is currently accepting submissions. You have until May 31 at 11:59 p.m. ET to submit your original, unpublished poem or collection of poems.

David Martin won the 2014 CBC Poetry Prize for his poem Tar Swan. Years later, Tar Swan is now a book-length narrative poem that explores the process of oil extraction through the voices for four characters living and working on the Alberta oil sands.

The winner of the CBC Poetry Prize receives $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and will have their work published on CBC Books. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their poems published on CBC Books. 


Not enough? Martin talked to Allison Devereaux on Mainstreet NS about why you should enter this year's competition!

1. It'll help refine your work

David says: "I originally had a larger manuscript, which had more story and more characters. When I was preparing for the CBC Poetry Prize, I had to distil that down into a smaller version that would meet the requirements for the word count. It was difficult to come up with a way to give readers a sense of the arc of the story, the images and the metaphors... It can help you present the very best version of the poem that you can create." 


2. You'll look at your writing with new eyes

David says: "It can be nerve-wracking to send out your work. Oftentimes, you are working on these poems by yourself, privately; maybe you have one or two people read it and give some feedback. But it can be a good process to send your work out to a literary journal or a prize. I found that I suddenly see my poems in a different light when I'm preparing to send them out. I'm looking at them more critically." 

3. It introduces your work to new audiences


David says: "It can bring a broader audience to your work, and that's a wonderful thing. Amy Brandon, a composer in Nova Scotia, had read my work on the CBC and contacted me. She used the poem for a musical composition she was writing. That was an amazing opportunity that I wouldn't have had otherwise." 

4. The winner's writing residency is unforgettable

David says: "It was fantastic to be at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. It's such a beautiful place — gorgeous scenery that's inspiring. You're in an environment surrounded by other people that are working on their own creative projects. So it's just this nice energy to the space and just to have that time — those 10 days — to really focus on your work. You can kind of block out a lot of the noise from your day-to-day life and just focus on your writing and your creative practice. That was really amazing. I got a lot of work done and started a new project. That was one of the best aspects of the prize." 

David Martin's comments have been edited and condensed. 


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