The Writers’ Trust of Canada presents the Bronwen Wallace Award

Despite being founded in 1620, The Puritan prides itself on its voyages into the literary frontier. Age doesn’t matter in this regard—P.K. Page was knocking socks off posthumously—but it naturally falls to the young to reinvent the wheel, overcome dumb bigotries, reinvigorate a national literature, etc. The problem is that you usually get recognized for that latter task well after the work is done—if you’re lucky.

In the meantime, a young poet is walking on glass. You trudge on, earning money however you can on the side, hoping the glass holds. That’s why something like the 2013 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers is so important. It puts a temporary girder beneath a poet’s feet, maybe even providing scaffolding to a higher, more solid plane. So we’re glad that past Puritan contributor Suzannah Showler and upcoming contributor Laura Clarke have been shortlisted for this year’s award. Way to represent the hood. (We wouldn’t mind adding Laura Matwichuk to our archives too—her prize entry shows great range).

As Showler has written in The Puritan, “glass never forgets how it began: viscous, easily blown open.” Easily shattered too. This is probably a stretch, but maybe that’s why each of the short-listed entries mentions glass at least once. A Matwichuk poems even reads “I never wanted to break glass…until now.” Again, I’m stretching my metaphor out here, but it’s hard not to read the precariousness of the young poet into that line, even if she’s not talking about poetry; it’s as if the glass wants to be broken.

So it’s good to see that, for now at least, these three poets get at least a grand to shore themselves up, and at least a prominent shortlist to add to their CV. If you come to the ceremony tomorrow (5:30, TELUS Centre for the Performing and Learning on Bloor in Toronto), you can see the finalists read, and find out who gets the five grand.

It will be like the Oscars, except these poets actually need the money.

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