Our To the Core Poetry Contest is eliciting tons of participation—thank you! It's a beautiful thing to read each submission (in the comments field below this post). They're all so different and each contributor writes eloquently about how they felt when first discovering their poem. When we dreamt up the contest, we thought we'd reach out to a few poetry enthusiasts to get the contest rolling—you'll have seen the selections of Janet Somerville, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Miranda Hill, and Jack Illingsworth in the original post. So as not to make that post too long, we'll post the remainder of our guests' contributions here.
The editorial team at Geist magazine chose three stanzas of "The Speed of Rust, or, He Marries" by Karen Connelly, saying:
"It's been a favourite around the office since it was published in Geist 84. It's intensely visual and evocative, and speaks to the sometimes tenuous nature of connections between two people."
From "The Speed of Rust, or, He Marries"
You and I walk the wide sand flats,
slick grey acres of seaweed,
cracked shells, crabs scuttling sideways
like our desire. We are so close
to the barges that we see
a modern galley slave moving
feverishly about on the long deck.
He is silent in labour, I am silent
in sympathy, listening to you …
Writing your way into (toward) a landscape is a tricky thing, a continual process of navigation, negotiation, re-visioning. I’m in awe of those who do it well, and turn often to the likes of Candace Savage and Sharon Butala, Robert Kroetsch, John Newlove, and Di Brandt.
I was talking with poet Nora Gould about this a handful of months back; her book I see my love more clearly from a distance, set in the ranching country of southeastern Alberta, has become a touchstone for me. We were deep into a conversation about the similarities between farming and ranching life, mostly the close attention to the natural world in all weather. I’ve spoken of this before with other rural friends, and usually the discussion shifts to the differences between ranching and farming: mobility versus stasis, that certain hardship out on a cattle drive versus the farmhouse just back over the rise if anything goes wrong. But with Nora, I felt the deep companionship inherent in setting those dividing lines aside and focusing on commonality: the weather, the seasons, the sto …