BC Poetry 2016: An Introduction

Dorothy Livesay
In late 2013 I was asked to judge the 2014 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, given to the top book of poetry by a BC author published in a given year. The turn-around time for judging was quick, but I figured I could handle it. After all, there couldn't be more than 15 books in the running, 20 at most. I could think of six or eight titles off hand and figured maybe twice as many as that were out there, unknown to me.

Then a few weeks later two large boxes, containing more than 50 books, arrived on my doorstep. Needless to say I was stunned, and had a far busier winter of reading than anticipated. And yes, there were a few duds in the bunch, but far fewer than I expected. I was struck by the depth and range of poetry being written in this province, and by how little of it got any media coverage at all. I came away from the experience with at least a dozen books that had some kind of memorable impact on me, all of which I would never have heard of or read if not for my position as competition judge.

That fact has niggled at me over the intervening two years, but LIFE has had its all-caps ways of keeping me too preoccupied to do anything about it. This April, though, my family and I will be celebrating National Poetry Month in Ameliasburgh, Ontario, where I will be writer-in-residence at the Al Purdy A-frame. The A-frame Association asks writers-in-residence to perform some sort of community outreach during their stay - usually visits to local schools or libraries, or some 1-on-1 mentorship. I am going to do such work myself, but I also thought that - as the first BC writer-in-residence at the A-frame - I should put a little work into the poetry community in my own province, as well.

So, the idea of the "BC Poetry 2016" celebration was born. Throughout April I will be featuring a forthcoming, or just published, poetry book each day (Monday to Saturday - we'll rest right alongside the Lord on Sundays). There will also be the occasional Fall 2015 title, which may have been overlooked at that time. All of the books will be written by BC authors or published by BC publishers (or, in a great number of cases, both). If you've arrived late to the party, you can catch up on what's already been posted here.

Though it's unlikely this will carry over to 2017 or 2018 editions (I doubt the A-frame will have me back!), I hope this month of features will encourage fans of local poetry to dig deeper than the biggest two or three poetry publishers and take a look at what's happening at the smaller-small presses - you'll be rewarded for the extra effort.

Participating Publishers

Anvil Press
Caitlin Press
Leaf Press
McClelland and Stewart
Mother Tongue Publishing
New Star Books
Nightwood Editions
The Porcupine's Quill
Quattro Books
University of Alberta Press

Some publishers were contacted and did not reply.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.


Maureen Bayless said...

I'm looking forward to this, Rob. :-)

Maureen Bayless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.