Who better to judge our inaugural Magpie Award for Poetry, than Vancouver’s inaugural Poet Laureate, George McWhirter?
The much-lauded poet, novelist, translator and editor has been instrumental in the development of BC’s literary scene, both as a long-time editor and advisor at PRISM international, and as a well-loved professor and Head of the Creative Writing department at UBC. He has been awarded too many prizes for writing and teaching to list here, and we are thrilled and honoured that he has agreed to judge our first ever contest.
For a small sample of his vast body of work see this poem on the blog of Alex-Waterhouse Hayward (whom we have to thank for putting us in touch).
The closing date for entries for the Magpie Award for Poetry is 15 June 2014. Contest guidelines are here.
To celebrate the start of our first Magpie Award poetry contest, let me honour Max Plater, a poet from my very first writer’s group who passed along the best writing advice I ever received: trust your reader. As I continue to work through the submissions pile in our inbox, it is clear in the first paragraph which writers have learned to trust and respect their audience’s ability to perceive and follow the delicate rabbit trail. The writers with a true voice, that elusive quality so much sought and praised, reveal an intense intimacy and vulnerability (even if it is only leaked through the cracks.) Lesser writers smack of explanation, of grand action spelled with capital letters, and leave no room for lingering footnotes in the reader’s mind. The Golden Rule of Writing is this: trust your reader as you trust yourself. A writer must dig inside his own soul, wrestle with his art, and dare to go all the way down the rabbit hole. Because if he does, we’ll follow.
Above dry canyons where our worlds meet
not one word is lost between us
We step across them on a string bridge.
–Max Plater, Winter Fires (1998, Exile Editions)