Poetry Contest 2022: The Winners

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the winners of our 2022 Poetry Contest. A huge congratulations to the following three poets whose works were handpicked by esteemed judge, Lillian Allen. We won’t keep you waiting any longer: here they are!

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First Place: The Withholding Map, by Dora Prieto

Dora Prieto is a Mexican-Canadian emerging writer interested in ideas including longing, grief, and home. Her fiction, poetry, and comics have been published or are forthcoming in Acentos Review, Capilano Review, Catapult, GUTS Magazine, Maisonneuve, and Room Magazine, among others. Raised between rural Nova Scotia and southern Chiapas, Dora is now at home in central Mexico and the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (also known as Vancouver), where she is completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

The Withholding Map names an unnamed war and the river of time itself flows-on differently in arrivals and departures. The poet creates a wandering imagistic journey of choices without choice submerging language evoking song, memory, self, and searching and seeking. The land becomes memory and memories are stored across multiple points inside and outside of time, inside and outside of nature, stored in the psyche even as one grasps for that one moment of deep awakening flowing to merge longing and discovery. – Judge Lillian Allen

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Second Place: There Are No Streets Named Marie, by Jennifer Adese

Jennifer Adese (otipemisiwak/Métis) (she/her) is a poet, academic author, and professor. She is a Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Jennifer is the author of Aboriginal™: The Cultural and Economic Politics of Recognition. While she is new to creative publishing, she’s been writing and dreaming in poetry since she was 8 years old.

This poet is adept at the aesthetic of information with a story of specificities, countering the unpeopled abstractions and generalities which provide a cover for slanted truths, official-line, and erasure.  Colonial violence predicates itself on obfuscating individual action/culpability in performing its violence. It is a poet of enormous commitment to the beauty and rightness of justice and equality that will resurrect and honour the humanity of those who are subjected to such violent indignities. The poet’s artful telling of facts swims in the river of injustices; an unknown war and skilfully coheres a map of impunity weaponized in a City bent on erasing her presence. A City where care is withheld, truth withheld/whitened, justice withheld, and a woman is flung from spaces of belongings to create her own map of survival. While Marie’s story could never be a metaphor it stands as shared history and experience of aspects of BIPOC and poor women’s struggles, reminding, as the revolutionary Indigenous author and poet, Lee Maracle implores us, “to remember to remember.– Judge Lillian Allen

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Third Place: Viewer Commiseration is Contrived, by Vironika Wilde

Vironika Wilde believes that poetry is medicine. She is a Ukrainian and Russian indigenous poet, spoken word artist, activist, and cat fanatic. Those who have read her poetry books, “Love and Gaslight” and “the blood in her honey,” call her raw, honest, and willing to spill tough truths about trauma, society, and the human condition. When she isn’t writing, Vironika loves getting lost, stargazing, dancing, and eating pickles (sometimes, all at once). You’re welcome to follow her on Instagram (@vironikawilde).

Sometimes a poem is just a thing, something that burrows into the zeitgeist. Sometimes a poem is like a tonic, putting that little bit of pep into your “what the hell is all this?!” attitude. It’s also a calling out to a culture that watches the interest rates dance and sip Latte and vote for lower taxes! Viewer Commiseration is Contrived attempts to place us on a map; a physical map and a map of conscience. It’s not only about one kind of war, but it is also about a war within our society and within ourselves that makes us unsure about what the realities of other people who are not us, mean for us if at all the real can be discerned from another day on social media or the news cycle. In these days of capitalist vulgarities and of life imitating the digital, emotions can easily be manufactured, and every moment is a marketing scheme. – Judge Lillian Allen 

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You’ll be able to read Dora and Jennifer’s beautiful poetry in Room 46.2, to be published in Summer of 2023. The good news is that you can read Vironika’s work right now, at the link above!

As we’ve said before, a big thank you to every writer who trusted us and our judge, Lillian Allen, with their poems. It takes courage to put your writing forward for scrutiny, and we encourage you to keep at your craft.

We couldn’t be more grateful to Lillian Allen for the time and care put into selecting a shortlist and three winners – a decision that does not come easy!

In case you missed the previous announcements, you can check out our Poetry longlist and shortlist, here.

Room‘s annual poetry contest will open again in June 2023.

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