Tree Press Chapbook Contest

2017 WINNER

Electric Garden, by Amanda Earl

Stephen Brockwell was our judge. He wrote: There’s a willfully joyful complexity to Electric Garden’s exploration of female ageing and its accompanying social silences and invisibilities. These poems never settle into mere complaint. Amanda celebrates the potential energy—physical and creative—in the transition by engaging with other texts and mucking about with the declining pronouns for the self in the rust-belt of our later years.

 

 

 

 

2016 WINNER

The Binders, by Doris Fiszer

Sandra Ridley was our judge. She wrote:
 
"The Binders is brave, compassionate and pitch-perfect. From concentration camp to new country to nursing home, poised between worlds, here is a compelling sequence of poems that documents and collates life’s difficult transitions. It is a deeply human work with feisty authenticity and a dignified fidelity to common language. This poet has an exceptional ability to salvage the spark of experience—and we bear witness. This chronicle is lovingly gathered. Each poem is a sheaf full of life."

 

 

 

2015 WINNER

Small as Butterflies, by Lesley Strutt

rob mclennan was our judge. He wrote:
 
"There is something quite exquisite about a number of the poems in Small as Butterflies. I was taken by the pauses, hesitations and halts that swim throughout, and the writer’s ability to articulate a deftness through quick turns, narratives through a series of collage-fragments, and an indirectness through precision. What might be seen as a confusion of lines, spacings and sounds, Small as Butterflies utilizes the proper play of language into something else, entirely unexpected. These poems read as a welcome breath of air, fresh and sweet and rich."

 

 

 

 

2014 Winner

Portal Stones, by Frances Boyle

 

Bruce Taylor was our judge.

 

Taylor wrote: "The poems in Portal Stone are personal and particular, evoking certain rooms and moods certain rivers and roads, and certain members of a certain family; but while the subject matter is local and sometimes "pebble-small," as the poet puts it, there is an expansive, even adventurous metaphorical intelligence at work here, fanning out to explore the wider connections that run between one thing and another."

 

 

 

2013 WINNER

Winter Music, by Mary Lee Bragg.

 

Judge, Mathew Tierney, said: 

"With such restrained, tender endings, you might say that the poems in Winter Music are slentando: gradually slower. Beginning with the ode “Winter Saga”—where a squirrel crossing snow “swims with four splayed feet, / sculls with its tail”—the poet shows a deft touch with the painful particulars of the cold north, a “deep blue, / with outer space behind it.” There’s a constant battle in these poems between an inner tranquility and an outer chaos, a fight to make sense of an ambivalent world that leaks in through our best defences. “Nothing says luck / like lightning,” begins the poem “Good Luck,” and whether it’s a soldier in Kandahar, a revolutionary in Portugal, or a friend for whom life and love disasterizes, one can never predict whether you’ll survive the strike or not. In the meantime, intimates the poet, let your heart and mind rove, listen closely, and learn to “cherish your fears.” A thoughtful, subtle collection."

 

Honourable Mention: Elbow Grease, by Leslie Strutt

 

2012 WINNER

David Blaikie won the Tree Press chapbook contest, blind judged by Jason Heroux. His manuscript Farewell to Coney Island will have 50 copies printed by Tree Press.

Judge Jason Heroux said:

"Like the old ghostly roller coasters of Coney Island itself, David Blaikie’s poems whisk you along sudden turns and steep descents, and then stop right back where they started: paused between life’s breathless mysteries, ready for the next thrilling ride. His poems evoke the phantom landscapes of the past, as well as the uncertain terrain of our ever-changing modern world, a place where horizons “lay mute / and thin as dimes / along the sky” (Farmland ghosts)[...] These poems are a potent blend of casual, conversational tones and incantatory rhythms, spiked with startling images: “His eyes were vacant ice cubes / and his mouth a twist of lime” (The man who wasn’t there).

 

Second place was Janice Tokar, third place was Jennifer Pederson, with honourable mentions to Lesley Strutt and Grant Savage.