Clearly, I'm behind on my information, having discovered only today through reading Arc Poetry Magazine #95 (summer 2021) that Ottawa poet and above/ground press author Karen Massey won the annual Diana Brebner Prize last October (I'm completely willing to blame Covid-distractions on all of this) for the "best poem written by a National Capital Region poet, who has not yet published in book form." The prize was judged by BC writer Susan Musgrave. A belated congratulations! Musgrave selected Karen's “Mary Oliver in the Hereafter” for the $500 grand prize; Dessa Bayrock’s “What Do You See” was named the honourable mention for this year’s prize.
Here’s what Susan Musgrave had to say about “Mary Oliver in the Hereafter”:
First of all, I loved the title. And then I loved the first line. And then…anon. I like the Big Philosophical Questions the poem asks but doesn’t answer. That’s what a good poem will do. It doesn’t give you any answers, just unanswerable questions. I also love the way the poem uses abstractions — hope, joy — but renders them concrete. By the time I get to the last line, I feel lighter, the grass smells sweeter.Karen Massey's poetry has been published online and in anthologies and journals in Canada, the United States and the UK, including Aesthetica, Arc, subTerrain and experiment-o. She has two chapbooks-to-date with above/ground press, Bullet (1999) and STRANGE FITS OF BEAUTY & LIGHT: Erasure Poems from Archibald Lampman’s Sonnets (2014), and she was part of the anthology Decalogue: Ten Ottawa Poets (Chaudiere Books, 2006). And Karen isn't the first above/ground press author to win such, as Marilyn Irwin won the same prize back in 2013, and natalie hanna had an honourable mention in 2019!
And if such prompts, they are currently taking poems for this year's competition! Pay attention!