Saturday, February 23, 2008

CBC Poetry Prize

The Pow-Wow grounds in the Esket meadows, waiting for another season of fancy dancing.

Catching a Snare Drum at the Fraser's Mouth

I came to earth on the grasslands, and it's only hours later that the wind that blows over my new house here on the east coast of Vancouver Island eases through the bluebunch wheatgrass there. My poem about the pow-wows of the Interior Grasslands has won second prize in the 2008 CBC Literary Awards, and will be published in the June issue of Enroute Magazine. Prizes were given out in Montreal on February 21. I first entered this contest in its first year, 29 years ago.

British Columbia culture is the creation of the confluence of first nations and European cultures. This poem celebrates that heritage, and brings it into confluence with the new cultures of multi-cultural Vancouver, as British Columbia strips down to her voice and sings in a jazz club in the city, with all the heartbreak and joy of the pow wows behind her and the new cultures of Mumbai and Hong Kong before her.

The Chilcotin River appears, with its salmon, in the heart of this poem. The poem opens at Redstone in the Chilcotin, and quickly moves here to Sugarcane,

where the horses of the Williams Lake Band run free below the pow-wow grounds. It was the 2006 Fathers' Day Pow Wow which brought me to this poem. From there, the poem moves downriver to the Coast. Here we see it in the Thompson Canyon,

above the railroad, the highway, an old village site, and a blood-red outcropping that the glaciers buried in gravel ten thousand years ago and which is slowly falling away. Sometimes it pays to stop the car and climb up a hill for the view.

Next, it's off to Marpole, at the mouth of the Fraser.

Thanks to Arthur C for this great pic.

And the rest is song.

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