Dawn Watson Memorial Prize

Single Poem

        • Single poem
        • Up to 100 lines
        • First Prize $200, Second Prize $100, Third Prize 1 year WFNB membership

        2024 Judge: Jeanette Lynes

        Jeanette Lynes is the author of seven books of poetry and three novels. Her third novel, The Apothecary’s Garden (HarperCollins Canada, 2022) was a finalist for a High Plains Book Award and two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Jeanette’s fourth novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins Canada in 2025. Jeanette’s personal essays, Apron Apocalypse, won the John V. Hicks manuscript competition in 2023. Jeanette’s most recent poetry book, Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems (Wolsak and Wynn/Buckrider Books) won the 2016 Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award. Jeanette directs the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan.

        2024 WINNERS

        First Prize: A Crack in the Idyllic – Author, KC Clark, Saint Andrews

        Judge's Comments: This is one of those poems that feel like no part of it could be removed, and nothing more is needed to add. The writing is spare, but the imagery works hard. There are some striking sonics here, like “bolt-hole.” This is a dystopian landscape of few words, yet a vivid one. The sensory elements are rendered with skill, like the layering of touch (“open lame”/heat/fire), visual (shadows) and sound (“a haunting dirge in D minor”). The penultimate line is a common concept, but it feels earned because of the imagistic heavy lifting that preceded it. The line breaks are a nice balance of enjambed and phrasal. The final line strikes like a hammer. The poem exhibits an admirable degree of restraint.

        Author Bio: Born in Fredericton, KC worked as a reporter in NB before transitioning to a career in communications. A recent corporate escapee, she is now a full-time donair aficionado, part-time writer and lover of short stories. She holds a BA, B.Ed. and MA in Creative Writing.

        Second Prize: Time Moves Backwards for Herakles in the Dollhouse – Author, Grace Taylor, Fredericton

        Judge's Comments: This poem is dark but balancing its grim content is a tight structure comprised of couplets and the she/you pendulum that lends propulsion to the couplets. It’s challenging to sustain a poem with lines that are full sentences, but this poem pulls it off. The poem is like a map, tracking the locations of the “she” through various domestic settings to the final movement into the grass, which stands as a strong metaphor for death. The tension between the “she” and the “you” is palpable. There’s a lot left unsaid in the poem, with respect to this relationship between the two people, but the poem is stronger for those silences. The cat bookends the poem in a chilling way. This poem is quite ‘noir’ but pulls back before descending into pure melodrama – except for the poor cat in the final line.

        Author Bio: Grace R. Taylor (They/Them) is a queer, disabled writer obsessed with the murderous women of Greek Mythology. They have a MA in English from the University of New Brunswick and their poetry received the Bliss Carmen Memorial Prize for Poetry in 2020. Their poetry has been published in The Angle and TransCare+’s Comfort Food Zine. For two years, they were an editor for Qwerty Magazine, first the Lead Poetry Editor and then a Co-Managing Editor and has since gone on to work at Goose Lane Editions and now works with The Fiddlehead and volunteers for the Word Feast literary festival.

        Third Prize: Expiration – Author, Melanie Craig-Hansford, Hampton

        Judge's Comments: This poem launches with an understated yet striking opening line: “Water will find its way home.” There are some strong, memorable images, like “softened sea glass” to show the passage of time. The whimsical turn of personifying Grace is fun. The stanzas feel organic, and the poem is unified by the way each stanza points towards a future point in time. The final stanza’s images are quirky and poignant: “sand flecked with plastic soldiers;” “neon pink barbie shoes;” “extinct bones and titanium joints.”

        Author Bio: I taught high school visual arts and was a high school Teacher-Librarian for 27 years in Kingston, Ontario. I retired in 2014. I have written over a hundred opinion editorial newspaper columns for the Kingston Whig Standard (Kingston, Ontario) I co-wrote a book called Prayers for Women Who Can’t Pray published by Wintergreen Studios Press and contributed a poem and a cover illustration for three chapbooks under the same imprint. I had a poem published in In/Words magazine (Fall 2016). In 2017 I was awarded the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick mentorship scholarship and in 2018, 2020 and 2023 I won first prize in the WFNB Dawn Watson Memorial single poem contest and in 2023 I also won third place.  I had three poems recently published in a book called Hope and Resilience in the Time of Covid, published by Bishop University, 2021. In 2023 my first illustrated poetry collection was published by Chapel Street Editions in Woodstock, New Brunswick. It is called Tonight We Sleep With the Window Open.

        Honourable Mention: Red Mug – Author, Jennifer McMullin, Fredericton

        Judge's Comments: An unstated poem that uses its humble, domestic images to good effect. Visual and sonic images are deployed well (holes in lace curtains, kettle’s “angry puffs of steam” it whistles, the clocks tapping pulse). The last line is killer, like the turn of a knife.

        Author Bio: I have lived in the Maritimes my whole life. I have written a children’s picture book titled, Molly the Perfectly Imperfect Dog, illustrated by Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo which was released in March 2022. I have also written Gertrude the Great, a children’s chapter book in late summer 2022. Both of these books are self-published.I have always enjoyed writing both fiction and poetry. I have a B.A. with First Class Honours in Economics from St. Thomas University as well as a M.A. in Economics from the University of New Brunswick. I am a Senior Economist for the Province of New Brunswick.

        2022 - 2023 Judge: Dr. Sean Wiebe


        First Place: Melanie Craig-Hansford (Hampton, NB), My other ride is your Mother

        Second Place: Heather Gunn (Shediac, NB), Cosmopolitan Magazine says I should be Tangled in the Sheets

        Third Place: Melanie Craig-Hansford (Hampton, NB), The Night I Lost Her

        2021 - 2022 Judge: Leigh Faulkner


        First Place: Edyn Clowater, The Story Never Told

        Second Place: Shaun Cunningham, Grid Road, Saskatchewan

        Third Place: Shari Andrews, Her Open Mouth

        Honourable Mention: Shari Andrews, Snow on Evergreen

        Honourable Mention: Frederick Mundle, One Sighting

        As a past prize recipient in the categories for the Dawn Watson Memorial Prize (2022) and the Alfred G. Bailey Prize , I encourage all members to enter the annual WFNB Literary Contest. Even though I have had the support of mentors and a writing group through the years, the act of putting words on paper is a solitary one. In the end the discipline required has to come from within. To have my work judged by knowledgeable and accomplished peers has given me much encouragement and validation to continue. As well, it is always a pleasure to receive the judge's helpful critique. Wishing you luck and success in this year's competition!

        Shari Andrews

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