Poetry Contest 2023: The Winners

It’s finally here, and we hope you’re just as excited as we are. We are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2023 Poetry Contest. A huge congratulations to the following three poets whose works were handpicked by esteemed judge, John Elizabeth Stintzi. We won’t keep you waiting any longer: here they are!

FIRST PLACE: Sorry I Couldn’t Come to Your Baby Shower But, by Megan Morrison

Originally from Vancouver, Megan Morrison now lives on Pender Island, BC. When not hammering away at writing, she works as a speech-language pathologist and opera singer. Her writing has appeared in FRONT Magazine, published by the artist-run centre Western Front Society. Recently, her work has been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Writers’ Trust Mentorship Program. She is currently finishing her first collection of short stories.

“Sorry I couldn’t come to your baby shower” is such a nimble, playful poem, and it grabbed me right away. I love the way it fences with the reader, how it dukes between its laugh-out-loud humour and the poem’s very serious undercurrents. Reminiscent of the work of David Markson, this is the poem that kept drawing me back, and at each reading surprised me more, as I saw a little further and further past the laughs to the dark hallways our best humour often obfuscates. — Judge John Elizabeth Stintzi

 

SECOND PLACE: What should be safe, by Livia Meneghin

Livia Meneghin (she/her) is the author of Honey in My Hair and the Reads Editor at Sundress Publications. She is the winner of Breakwater Review‘s 2022 Peseroff Prize and was a 2022-2023 Writers’ Room of Boston Poetry Fellow. Her work has found homes in CV2, Gasher, Mom Egg Review, tenderness lit, Thrush, So to Speak, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Emerson College, where she now teaches writing and literature. She is a cancer survivor and currently resides on the traditional homelands of the Pawtucket Massachusett people.

I’m a sucker for a well-done list poem, and “What should be safe” accomplishes that—constantly surprising, and consistently moving the reader forward, rather than circling a drain as many less successful list poems tend to do. I think since the pandemic began, and was followed by so many frightening realities we have been and are living through, a simple poem like this has a lot of power. Because, fuck!, these things should all be safe. We all should be.— Judge John Elizabeth Stintzi

 

Alanna Schwartz (she/her) is a performance writer and poet as well as a fierce advocate for housing and harm-reduction, having spent the last four years working with people experiencing homelessness and childhood sexual exploitation in her hometown of Calgary in Treaty 7 territory. Most recently, she has written for the internationally acclaimed webseries Abracadavers. She is currently an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph and lives in the Willow River Watershed.

“I don’t believe in God but I do believe we should” shines in its capturing in a very tender frame a fleeting, last hurrah moment where prolonged, exuberant youth gives way to serious adulthood. I was particularly moved by the way the poet tethered their speakers’ friends to their bodies—as well as liberating them from those same bodies. “To lay my hand on the muscle that connects Scott’s laugh to his shoulders” and “The way I tell Jordan that I wish we could be like raindrops, slipping together / into a fat and heavy blob on the car window”—simply gorgeous. — Judge John Elizabeth Stintzi

 

You’ll be able to read Megan and Livia’s poetry in Room 47.2, to be published in Summer of 2024. Lucky for you, you can check out Alanna’s poem right now, at the link above!

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

Last but not least, a huge thank you to John Elizabeth Stintzi for the time and care they put into selecting a shortlist and three winners – a decision that does not come easy! We are so grateful for your time and energy.

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 2024.

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ROOM 47.1 Utopia
Join Room and Augur Magazine in our wanderings through dozens of different conceptions of utopia. Featuring new poetry by Larissa Lai and an interview with Whitney French.

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ROOM 46.4 FEVER DREAM
From nightmares of forests, birds, compulsions, and the otherworldly, to dreams that bring the comfort of our ancestors, slip into the unconscious with this issue of Room.

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