Congratulations to John Wall Barger (Halifax, Nova Scotia) and Délani Valin (Nanaimo, British Columbia) on winning The Malahat Review's 2017 Long Poem Prize. Both winners will receive an award of $1,000, and their winning poems will be published in the Malahat's Summer 2017 issue. Their poems were chosen from close to 200 entries by contest judges Louise Bernice Halfe, George Elliott Clarke, and Patricia Young.
Of John Wall Barger's poem, "Smog Mother," the judges said: "[the poem] is a lyrical travelogue interspersed with passages of introspection. The poem, which at times reads almost like a chant, is propelled forward through its use of repetition and rhythm. Due to its stance of 'slumming' in the so-called Third World, it is anti-Romantic, as opposed to giving one pretty 'exotica.' 'Smog Mother' could be seen as an extended riff on Cohen's 'Suzanne,' juxtaposing garbage and seaweed, beauty and ugliness, in ballad-like measures."
Of Délani Valin's poem, "No Buffalos," the judges said: "What immediately strikes one when reading 'No Buffalos' is the clarity and authenticity of its voice; it is a dance of thought among words. The use of quatrains recalls balladry while singing a Song of Myself—so to speak--and an Ode to the People. There's an uncampy quality to the poem, an actualized sense of a culture and the identity conflicts resulting from the claims of Tradition and the definitions of Law/Government. The poet skillfully injects the Self into her revelations of observation and experience, thereby giving her words weight and substance."
John Wall Barger's poems have appeared in Rattle, The Cincinnati Review, Hotel Amerika, and Best Canadian Poetry. His third collection, The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press), was a finalist for the 2016 JM Abraham Poetry Award.
Délani Valin studies Creative Writing at Vancouver Island University. She won subTerrain's 2016 Lush Triumphant Literary Award for her suite of poetry, "Modern Myths." Her writing has appeared in subTerrain, the Canadian anthology Those Who Make Us, Adbusters, Soliloquies Anthology, and Portal, among others. As a Métis person, as a woman, as a bisexual person, and as a person who has openly struggled with mental illness, Valin often explores questions of identity and community in her work. She is in the process of assembling her first book of poetry, tentatively called Postmodern Myths and Muses.
Interviews with both winners will be included in our May newsletter!
We would also like to congratulate the Long Poem Prize finalists:
Antony Di Nardo, "Istanbul Modern"
Steven Lautermilch, "Boat on a Folding Screen"
Marion Quednau, "Freshet"
Claudia Radmore, "sea oyster leaf, sea olive: Fogo"
Bruce Rice, "Walking with Norval"