The winner of the inaugural Montreal International Poetry Prize was announced Dec. 15 and although none of the four Victoria poets shortlisted took home the $50,000 prize, a poem written by the city’s outgoing poet laureate, Linda Rogers, was selected to be the basis for the limited edition broadside (or illustration poem) by American painter and sculptor Eric Fischl.
Rogers’ poem, The Grasshoppers’ Silence, was inspired by the story of Rumana Monzur, the UBC student who was blinded by her husband in Bangladesh in July (interestingly, Monzur’s husband was found dead in early December, just a little over a week before the winning broadside poem was announced).
Rogers found out her poem was chosen by Fischl during a press conference when the $50,000 winner, Australia’s Mark Tredinnick, was made public.
“It was a total surprise,” says Rogers. “The poem is very sad, that’s one reason I wouldn’t expect it to be chosen. I had another poem on the shortlist about Haiti that I thought would be suitable. But [Fischl’s] got the poem and he’s got free reign. It will be really fun to collaborate with him and see what he comes up with.”
The broadside will be a high-quality, highly-collectible print, signed by the artist and poet and is being produced by Montreal Book Press. It will be available sometime in the new year.
“I’ve chosen this poem because the image of the one-legged grasshopper won’t let me sleep,” Fischl says of his selection.
The other Victoria poets among the 50 shortlisted from the more than 3,200 entries world-wide include Night Thoughts from Somewhere Past High Noon by Iain Higgins, The Old Man and the Beanstalk by Alina Wilson (A Uvic student), and Tamarind Tree by Patricia Young. Gary Geddes, who had two poems on the shortlist, lived many years in Victoria but now lives on Thetis Island.
The Montreal International Poetry Prize is the largest monetary prize for a single poem. Find out more about the Broadside here: montrealprize.com/anthologies/the-broadside. M