The Descant Arts & Letters Foundation is pleased to announce the winner of the Winston Collins/Descant Prize for Best Canadian Poem for 2013.
“Bringing the Farmhouse Down”
By John B. Lee
The Winston Collins/Descant Prize for Best Canadian Poem is an annual prize awarded in memory of Winston Collins, writer and enthusiastic teacher of literature at the universities of Cincinnati, Princeton and Toronto. This prize, established in 2007, perpetuates his remarkable talent for encouraging self-expression through writing. The winner receives an award of $1000 and is published in an issue of Descant.
The judges for this year’s prize, Mark Kingwell and Leanne Shapton, provided Descant with a statement describing their choice:
"Bringing the Farmhouse Down" deftly and tenderly evokes the past life of a family home with refreshingly unsentimental texture. There is a wealth of concrete detail in the description of the house’s destruction, an act evoked with precise, even blunt, language that nevertheless reveals the aura of beauty that can surround things in our tough material world: "from the peen-bruise of the punched studs / and the dry-lime fragrance / of the splintering slats." The short lines, hyphenated adjectives, incidental rhyme, and alliteration create a jangly Anglo-Saxon rhythm reminiscent of Hopkins, just as the close attention to objects and tools recalls Ted Hughes or Galway Kinnell: "in the long hall / the wicker wheelchair / winced like a toy / while the girls played / broken-legged doll." Thematically, we found the shifts in time particularly effective in executing the major conceit and house-as-memory, and acknowledging the delicate, ever-haunted structures we call consciousness and identity. The poem works like a tiny ghost story: images, voices, and children gliding in and out of its rooms.
For more information about the prize, John B. Lee and the judges click here.