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In this newsletter you'll find: a special feature on the 2021 LCP Award winners, a call for submissions to our Fall 2021 Issue: Islands of Influence, guest edited by Brandon Wint, a choreographed video poem, upcoming events, the April Arc Award of Awesomeness winner and June's prompt, upcoming deadlines for 12 publications, and our featured review: it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson. 
Congratulations to the 2021 League of Canadian Poets Awards Winners! 
Bertrand Bickersteth won the Gerald Lampert Award for his collection The Response of Weeds (NeWest Press, 2020). 

Noor Naga won the Pat Lowther Award for her novel-in-verse Washes, Prays (Penguin Random House Canada, 2020). 

Ian Williams won the Raymond Souster Award for his collection Word Problems (Coach House, 2020).  

We're happy to congratulate this year's winners and all 2021's LCP Awards' long-listed poets:

Gerald Lampert Award: Cicely Belle Blain, Jillian Christmas, Joel Robert Ferguson, Kama La Mackerel, Valerie Mason John, Noor Naga, Bahar Orang, Tyler Pennock, Natasha Ramoutar, Tamar Rubin, and Yusuf Saadi. 
Pat Lowther Award: Cicely Belle Blain, Jody Chan, Jillian Christmas, Afua Cooper, Sadiqa de Meijer, Jennifer Hosein, Kyla Jamieson, shalan joudry, Evelyn Lau, Canisia Lubrin, and Pearl Pirie.
Raymond Souster Award: Sadiqa de Meijer, Klara du Plessis, Phil Hall, Jessie Jones, Canisia Lubrin, Jessica Moore, Tyler Pennock, Michael Prior, Meredith Quartermain, Lisa Richter, John Elizabeth Stintzi. 
The Response of Weeds by Bertrand Bickersteth: A Misplacement of Black Poetry on the Prairies

At the end of his debut collection, The Response of Weeds, Bertrand Bickersteth includes a page, “A Note on Names.” His end note states, “words can enforce silence because namers have power.” And it is this thinking that propels Bickersteth’s vivid interrogation of the colonial history of the place we now call Alberta.
With rich language that evokes the rhythms of jazz, Bickersteth bears witness to the erased stories of Black identity in Alberta. This collection is a revisioning of place, the so-called land of opportunity. The book opens with the poem, “The Negro Speaks of Alberta” — “I know these rivers that flow past me/I’ve peered over their banks and know you do not see me,” and the revision begins. The poems reach back to the early nineteenth century and move through time to reclaim an unseen/unspoken narrative of Black settlement on the prairies.
A stellar collection, The Response of Weeds creates a poetic space that questions a colonial concept of belonging. Beginning with the book’s dedication “For anyone who has had to answer to (various versions of) ‘where do you come from?’” Bickersteth’s poems push back against the dominant narrative as they invite the reader to take part in his celebration of Black history in Alberta. — Nancy Jo Cullen 

Washes, Prays by Noor Naga: Transformations in Heartbreak 

Noor Naga’s debut poetry collection, Washes, Prays, tells the story of Coocoo through verse. Coocoo is a young Muslim immigrant woman in Toronto who has an affair with her married professor, Muhammad. The book’s premise is straightforward, but Naga’s poetry makes you, the reader, feel all the gut punches, aches, and heartbreaks alongside Coocoo. Washes, Prays doesn’t wait for the emotional impacts to set in gradually.
Coocoo’s devastating loneliness is offset by her beautiful friendship with Nouf, whom she meets on her first day in Muhammad’s class. When Coocoo sinks into grief following Muhammad’s rejection, Nouf shows how deeply one can care for another person. While the relationship between Coocoo and Muhammad sets the book’s plot into motion, Nouf’s care and friendship depict the expansive possibilities of love. 
“nouf how can I show you joy? mama says the first time I tasted chocolate at the age of two I burst into applause in that synaptic gap”
One of the many brilliant aspects of Washes, Prays is how subsequent reads of the book reveal further interpretations. As Coocoo’s relationship with Muhammad deteriorates and she becomes more desperate, she begins an animalistic transformation into a dog, loyal and submissive. Naga takes full advantage of the ability of poetry to make itself both literal and metaphorical at the same time. The imagery heavily suggests that Coocoo does indeed undergo a physical transformation, adding a surreal element to the narrative. 
Washes, Prays is a brilliant debut that explores loneliness, grief, and care through poetry. Naga’s words and Coocoo’s story will stay with you for a long time after reading. — Manahil Bandukwala 

Word Problems by Ian Williams: Puzzling Over Social Issues 

In language that often self-corrects and rewrites itself while leaving the leavings on the page, Ian Williams presents a speaker whose self-reflexivity replays lived racial micro-aggressions internally like a background track to unfolding problems. 
“I’m sorry. No. A boy a man falls fell falls fell / from a the balcony of his apartment building. […] Un homme, un tom / beau, il tombe, est tombé, tombe, est tombé.” 
The poems of Word Problems quite literally intersect in formally inventive ways as they highlight how the daily lives of marginalized people are burdened by invisible variables that the questioner doesn’t see or compute. The first poem, “It is possible to move on without moving forward,” supposes a Black you waiting in an airport. Two women offering credit cards to everyone else ignore you; an officer approaches while you eat a scone at the gate and tells you to move. The poem then asks you to calculate the possibility that the same thing would happen to a white you
“and you are forced to sit in / invited to sit in / an overcrowded holding area / among trusted travellers / who see security direct you” 
This poem threads itself through and across the others that follow; the stakes in each are multifold and cumulative. Throughout, the speaker prompts/is prompted to “show your work” and carry the burden of proof. 
Word Problems strikes me as a follow up–in–verse to Reproduction. Each poem, unique like a chromosome. You’ll even find a fingerprint stamp and voiceprints along with other visual and textual surprises. This work of an expert at play explores a double helix of racism and chronic depression with innovation, vulnerability, and the confidence of a virtuoso poet with an imperative message. — Margo LaPierre 

Tues., June 15, 7 p.m. EST: Tree Reading Series ft. Natasha Ramoutar & Marianne Chan
Wed., June 16, 6:30 p.m. EST: Decolonizing the Narrative Conversation Series: Cris Derksen and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

SUBMIT HERE to Arc's Fall Issue "Islands of Influence" guest edited by poet and spoken word artist Brandon Wint before the July 31, 2021 deadline. 

The issue welcomes poems, essays, interviews, craft essays and visual art that celebrate, explore and elucidate the ways that Caribbean life and Canadian life have intersected to create unique literary and artistic possibilities. Islands of Influence seeks work from self-identifying Caribbean and Caribbean-Canadian writers who are keen to express the ways that Caribbean life, culture, politics, spirituality and artistic tradition augment, enrich and complicate the notion of literary possibility within a Canadian context, and throughout the English-language literary world.

Brandon Wint is an Ontario born poet and spoken word artist who uses poetry to attend to the joy and devastation and inequity associated with this era of human and ecological history. Increasingly, his work on the page and in performance casts a tender but robust attention toward the movements and impacts of colonial, capitalist logic, and how they might be undone. In this way, Brandon Wint is devoted to a poetics of world making, world altering and world breaking.

For Brandon, the written and spoken word is a tool for examining and enacting his sense of justice, and imagining less violence futures for himself and the world he has inherited. For more than a decade, Brandon has been a sought-after, touring performer, and has presented his work in the United States, Australia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Jamaica. His poems and essays have been published in national anthologies, including The Great Black North: Contemporary African-Canadian Poetry (Frontenac House, 2013) and Black Writers Matter (University of Regina Press, 2019). Divine Animal is his debut book of poetry.

spring promises FUTURES 

View this stunning choreographed poem by Morgan Amirah and Brandon Wint. 

This moving piece features the choreography and movement of Morgan Amirah (Atlanta) and the poetry of Brandon Wint (Vancouver), presented by the Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta. Click here to view the text of Brandon’s poem, Tomorrow Promises Futures.

Submit to the Arc Award of Awesomeness for a chance at half at the cash and a fancy vintage vintage doo-dad! And all the clout!  

June's prompt, judged by Sarah Tsiang, is: Tell me a story.

We want your narrative poems! These narrative poems don't have to be strictly logical (happy to receive surreal narratives as well) but we want you to take us on a journey — whether that's a journey through your day, your past, your imagined life, or the tale of another, bring us along. 

Deadline is June 30, 11:59 p.m. EST. Submission fee is $2 per poem. More details here
Congratulations to David Epstein! He's the winner of the April Award of Awesomeness, for his poem in response to the "Maps" prompt: "A Map of Absence." April's judge was Margo LaPierre. Read his winning poem HERE. 

Congrats also to April runners up Amy Leblanc for "Spatial Awareness" and Neil Surkan for "Span."

June 15: Bywords (Ottawa Poets) 
June 16: The Anti-Languourous Project (Emerging Writers Theme) 
June 16: Sequestrum (Place Theme)
June 21: Understorey Magazine (Rural and Remote Living Theme) 
June 25: The Puritan Magazine 
June 30: Cloud Lake Literary Magazine 
June 30: The Fat Coyote (Neurodivergent Writers)
June 30: Open Minds Quarterly (Mentally Ill Poets) 
June 30: Vallum Mag
July 1: The Temz Review 
July 7: The Mantle Journal 
July 31: Arc Poetry Magazine 

Where in my annual report do I put that I fell in love because that is very much an extension of my poetic practice 

A Love Like Glass: it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson
(Nightwood Editions, 2020)

Review by Tanis Franco

it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson is a moving collection of razor-sharp poems. Broken into four parts, part one opens with the speaker asking to be called sea glass, which is smooth, round, and beautiful. Glass is a recurring image throughout the collection, signifying both the potential to cut, and the potential to break.

Read full review HERE
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Arc Poetry Magazine · PO Box 81060 · Ottawa, On K1P 1B1 · Canada

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