Salt Spring Island resident Alessandra Naccarato has won the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize.
Her poem Postcards for my Sister was selected by a jury from more than 2,400 entries.
Naccarato will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Naccarato, who splits her time between the Island and Toronto, said she was honoured to win the award and recognition for her poem.
“I wrote Postcards for my Sister to honour the many faces of motherhood. I wanted to recognize the strength of caregivers — of all ages and many genders — and the sacrifices they make,” she said in an email. “If this work inspires anything, my hope is that it encourages people to sit down with the elders in their community, ask them about their lives and listen”
Her poem will be published in the December issue of enRoute magazine, which is distributed on Air Canada flights.
Naccarato is an essayist and arts educator as well as a poet.
She is a recipient of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and has been a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize before, in 2014.
Her writing has been published in Canada and the U.S. She is set to launch a chapbook, Highly Sensatave Femme, with Victoria’s Frog Hollow Press after winning their chapbook contest.
She also facilitates the newly formed Salt Spring Writers Circle, hosting workshops and retreats and works with Raising Voices in Victoria to offer spoken-word workshops in high schools.
The four runners-up in the contest will also receive $1,000.
They include Cornelia Hoogland from Hornby Island, as well as Laboni Islam from Toronto, Sarah Kabamba from Ottawa and Harold Rhenisch from Vernon.
The judges for the CBC Poetry Prize, Gary Barwin, Rosanna Deerchild and Humble the Poet, said of Naccarato’s poem: “In beautiful and arresting language, the poem introduces us to matriarchs, “big-mouthed women, fat/as trees,” and the patterns which join grandmothers, mothers, sisters and their children to the sometimes difficult realities of birth and death, but also to nature and each other. The reader is powerfully moved by their tenderness, vitality and compassion, their knowing wit, their savvy joy.”