Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! 2018 Contest submission deadline

Title: Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! 2018 Contest submission deadline

Date: April 1, 2018

Location: Canada
Description: Founded in 2012 in New Westminster, BC, Royal Literary Arts Society (RCLAS) is a vibrant community of writers in the Lower Mainland and beyond. RCLAS has once again flung open the doors for aspiring writers to submit their best efforts in any of three writing genres (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) for the Society’s annual Contest.

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Good Morning Sun of My Land

by Donald Nicholson-Smith, translating from the French by Abdellatif Laâbi



Good morning sun of my land
how good it feels to be alive today
so much light
so much light around me
Good morning empty exercise yard
you have become familiar to me
I cross you with a lively step
and you suit me like an elegant shoe
Good morning ponderous and philosophical oxpecker
perched up there
on the wall that hides the world from me
poking at your ribcage
with distracted little movements
Good morning sparse grass in the alley
quivering in opalescent flurries
at the wind’s teasing touch
Good morning great lone palm
erect on your cross-grained trunk
blooming at your peak
like a glorious tulip
Good morning sun of my land
tide of presence abolishing exile
So much light
so much light around me

***

I have a thousand reasons to live
to vanquish day-to-day death
the joy of loving you
and walking in step with hope

***

Notes on the Poem

"Good Morning Sun of My Land" is another inspirational selection from In Praise of Defeat, a collection of the work in French of poet, novelist, playwright, translator, and political activist Abdellatif Laâbi, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. In Praise of Defeat was shortlisted for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize. As we observed in a previous selection from this collection, Abdellatif Laâbi's experience of political imprisonment and exile deeply informs and permeates his work. As the 2017 judges acknowledge, this is so well communicated in English by Laâbi's dedicated translator Nicholson-Smith, and the exercise was clearly an epic labour of love for him. The use of repeated words and phrases as mantras aiding in his survival appears again here, as it did in "Chronicle of the Citadel of Exile". "Good morning" and "so much light" are deployed with determined positivity. Again, the poem is absent of punctuation, but each "Good" of "Good morning" is pointedly capitalized (as "Bonjour" is capitalized in the original text in French). The "empty exercise yard" illustrates that he is dealing with both imprisonment and further enforced isolation, but he contends with that by anthromorphizing the things around him, including the yard itself. How fortunate that another living creature that shares this space with him is the oxpecker, a bird native to sub-Saharan Africa that is related to starlings and mynahs - talkers, even if they are "ponderous and philosophical". As Laâbi brings his confined space to life and sheds light on it, he also introduces traces and suggestions of colour, culminating in the comparison of the "great lone palm" to "a glorious tulip". Tulips conjure many colours, all of them symbolizing hope and love, which segues beautifully to the quatrain concluding this selection. In this poem, Laâbi has truly generated a "tide of presence abolishing exile".

Liveforever

by Robin Blaser



‘Where is Abraham buried?’ you ask. Well, in the Kabbalah, God has a terrible time getting Abraham to agree to die. In the Zohar, where Abraham is initiate and David calls God by the name ‘Midnight,’ the splendour is woven in the energies of the Hebrew alphabet, a creation in language that is never still. Now, looking at the three religions of Abraham – Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim – I would say that Abraham, though very much changed since 1700 BCE, is not dead. There’s only so much that a post-Catholic, polytheist exodic can say just now.

for Samuel Truitt
August 1996

Notes on the Poem

As we've mentioned before, when it was recognized with the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2008, Robin Blaser's The Holy Forest was over five decades in the perpetual making ... and amending, and augmenting. "Liveforever" is a concise, potent selection both illustrative of Blaser's many powers and gifts and emblematic of how his work has endured and will endure. The Griffin Poetry Prize citation for The Holy Forest, which combines the observations of the Griffin judges and reviewer Brian Fawcett, describes beautifully how the collection holds within it Blaser's intellectual rigour, disciplined craft, ongoing scrutiny of that craft, all leavened with fine and well directed wit.
“There is an irony in the presumption that the universe contains the ‘collected’ poems of Robin Blaser. Within the five hundred pages of The Holy Forest moves a lifetime’s thought such as we are not used to or prepared for. Whitman was not fooling when he said that a poet, an extraordinary poet, can himself be a cosmos. But as sidereal as Blaser’s lines become, we never forget that the purpose is human living every day inside what is. In a review of an earlier volume with the same title (bravely published in Canada by Coach House and later listed by Talonbooks), Brian Fawcett wrote: ‘His truest poetic instinct is that cosmology is at once humanity’s fundamental pursuit – and the source of our most screamingly funny ironies, misapprehensions and pratfalls.’ Blaser is solemn enough to approach Dante Alighieri as a ‘Great Companion,’ and serious enough to maintain that ‘the truth is laughter’ we might find some afternoon on the darkest pavement.”
In "Liveforever", Blaser takes a weighty question: "'Where is Abraham buried?'" and immediately responds to it with invitingly colloquial irreverence: "Well, in the Kabbalah, God has a terrible time getting Abraham to agree to die." The entire poem has a breezy, good-humoured tone ("Now", "I would say", "There's only so much"). The tone does not mean, however, that the narrator is making casual or facile assertions, but rather is applying an open, warm, accessible nature to potentially fraught subject matter, as religion in general and different religious interpretations of something in particular can be. The inconclusive but fair summing-up of "a post-Catholic, polytheist exodic" makes for a fine punchline. The phrase "a creation in language that is never still" at the mid-point of the poem offers sly, delicious ambiguity. It's also testament to the importance of revision that Blaser observed, and to the value of finding new revelations in language with every new visit and reconsideration. "Abraham ... is not dead." Nor is the poet.

StAnza Poetry Festival

Title: StAnza Poetry Festival

Start Date: March 7, 2018
End Date: March 11, 2018

Location: St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Description: StAnza’s mission is to celebrate poetry, to bring poetry to audiences and to enable encounters with poetry. The organisation works all year round to deliver poetry events and projects in Scotland and beyond.

StAnza’s main focus is its annual festival in St Andrews each spring. Now recognised as one of the leading poetry festivals in the UK and Europe, StAnza has over the years featured a strong list of contemporary poets from within Scotland and also from across the UK and the rest of the world. StAnza has brought a range of major poets to the festival, commissioned art works from leading artists, featured both past and present Poet Laureates, and has brought poets from over 50 countries worldwide to the festival.

Learn more here.

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Cork International Poetry Festival

Title: Cork International Poetry Festival

Start Date: February 13, 2018
End Date: February 17, 2018

Location: Cork, Ireland
Description: Ireland’s largest annual poetry festival features poets from across the English-speaking world as well as poets working in other languages. This year’s lineup includes Ken Babstock, Emily Berry, Ishion Hutchinson, Mary O’Donnell, D.A. Powell, Mark Roper, Jane Yeh and more.

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Muldoon’s Picnic

Title: Muldoon’s Picnic

Date: February 12, 2018

Location: New York, New York, US
Description: The critically-acclaimed feast of music, storytelling, poetry, and more—now in its eighth season—has become a staple of New York’s cultural diet. Led by Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon, this words-and-music jamboree features an evolving lineup of world-class special guests from across the spectrum of arts and letters.

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Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival

Title: Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival

Start Date: March 1, 2018
End Date: March 4, 2018

Location: the traditional, unceded, and ancestral territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish peoples
Description: Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival is Room magazine’s annual literary festival, a celebration of diverse Canadian writers and artists. This year’s lineup includes Amber Dawn, Caroline Adderson, Carleigh Baker, Marie Annharte Baker, Adèle Barclay, Farzana Doctor, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Jen Sookfong Lee, Emily Pohl-Weary, Vivek Shraya and more.

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Hot Ottawa Voices and Canisia Lubrin at Tree Reading Series

Title: Hot Ottawa Voices and Canisia Lubrin at Tree Reading Series

Date: June 26, 2018

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Description: Running since May 9, 1980, the Tree Reading Series (Tree) is one of Canada’s longest-running literary events and an essential part of Ottawa’s vibrant literary community. Tree is a non-profit organization that supports established and emerging writers from Ottawa and across Canada by offering a supportive public venue for writers to present their own work and to benefit from exposure to the work of other writers. In providing this service, Tree hopes to inspire and sustain the development of the literary community in Ottawa and to promote Ottawa as an important community for Canadian literary arts.

The evening features readings by Canisia Lubrin and a selection of poets from Ottawa, followed by an open mic.

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Tanis MacDonald and rob mclennan at Tree Reading Series

Title: Tanis MacDonald and rob mclennan at Tree Reading Series

Date: June 12, 2018

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Description: Running since May 9, 1980, the Tree Reading Series (Tree) is one of Canada’s longest-running literary events and an essential part of Ottawa’s vibrant literary community. Tree is a non-profit organization that supports established and emerging writers from Ottawa and across Canada by offering a supportive public venue for writers to present their own work and to benefit from exposure to the work of other writers. In providing this service, Tree hopes to inspire and sustain the development of the literary community in Ottawa and to promote Ottawa as an important community for Canadian literary arts.

The evening features a workshop on a topic to be announced with Henry Beissel, readings by Tanis MacDonald and rob mclennan, and then an open mic.

Learn more here.

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Whitney French at Tree Reading Series

Title: Whitney French at Tree Reading Series

Date: May 22, 2018

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Description: Running since May 9, 1980, the Tree Reading Series (Tree) is one of Canada’s longest-running literary events and an essential part of Ottawa’s vibrant literary community. Tree is a non-profit organization that supports established and emerging writers from Ottawa and across Canada by offering a supportive public venue for writers to present their own work and to benefit from exposure to the work of other writers. In providing this service, Tree hopes to inspire and sustain the development of the literary community in Ottawa and to promote Ottawa as an important community for Canadian literary arts.

The evening features a workshop on a topic to be announced with Claudia Coutu Radmore, a reading by Whitney French, and then an open mic.

Learn more here.

Return to the International Poetry Calendar.