By Linda Leith
"This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love."
-- Vladimir Nabokov
Launch of $50,000 Montreal International Poetry Prize
Literary Montreal is the source of an audacious new literary prize announced late last week: the Montreal International Poetry Prize, which will award $50,000 for a single poem of up to 40 lines written in English. Billing itself the “World’s Largest Poetry Competition,” the prize is “designed to bring more attention to poetry and to encourage people from all over the world to enter their poems.”
What is innovative about the prize is its encouragement of poems using “any English dialect” and its openness to poets from all over the world, whether previously published or not.
The $50,000 is a gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. “We are currently seeking a sponsor or patron for future years,” explains Peter Abramowicz, the business consultant who is one of the Montreal Prize’s three founders; the others are former investment banker and aspiring writer Len Epp and poet and literary critic Asa Boxer.
Asked to comment on the audacity of launching a globe English poetry prize in Montreal, Epp says, “It’s not necessarily audacious. It’s certainly interesting. We think it’s a great thing for Montreal, not just for the English-speaking community, and we hope that people will share our belief that Montreal is a great cultural city.”
An editorial board of distinguished poets includes Montreal’s Stephanie Bolster and Michael Harris, former Montrealer Eric Ormsby, Australian John Kinsella, Jamaican-born Valerie Bloom, Malawian Frank M. Chipasula, as well as the Nigerian Odia Ofeimun, Mumbai poet Anand Thakore, Sinéad Morrissey from Belfast, and London-born Fred D’Aguiar, who grew up in Guyana of Guyanese parents.
The early entry deadline for the competition is April 22, with a final deadline of July 8, 2011. The editorial board will choose the top 50 out of the poems submitted, and these will be published in print and in e-formats by Montreal’s Véhicule Press in Fall 2011. The winner of the inaugural prize, chosen by 2011 judge Andrew Motion, will be announced in December.
For more information on the Montreal International Poetry Prize, including entry fees, contact Len Epp or visit http:/www.montrealprize.com.
[Also posted on the Globe Books "In Other Words" site on Monday, March 28, 2011.]