Meet the $20,000 Prize Winner
This year’s winning poem is “The Antenna” by Mia Anderson. For the text of the poem, please scroll down.
Without seeing author names, the 2013 Prize Judge Don Paterson selected “The Antenna” from a manuscript of 52 poems from 12 countries, comprising the 2013 Global Poetry Anthology. The 2013 Montreal International Poetry Prize garnered just under 2000 entries from 70 countries.
Catch Anderson’s CBC Radio interview with Cinq à Six host Jeanette Kelly here.
Mia Anderson – Biographical Note
Mia Anderson is a writer, a gardener, an Anglican priest, an erstwhile shepherd, long-time actress and a once-familiar voice in CBC radio dramas. Hers is the voice of Atwood’s The Journals of Suzanna Moodie recorded by the CBC. Born and raised in Toronto, where she graduated in English Language and Literature from the University of Toronto, Mia Anderson spent the next 25 years on the stage in the U.K. in London, Edinburgh, and Manchester, and across Canada (including 5 seasons at the Stratford Festival). A national tour of her one-woman show 10 Women, 2 Men and a Moose showcased then-contemporary Canadian writers. She has published four books of poetry: Appetite (Brick, 1988), Château Puits ’81 (Oolichan, 1992), Practising Death (St Thomas’ Poetry, 1997), and most recently The Sunrise Liturgy (Wipf & Stock, 2012). Her Long Poem “The Saugeen Sonata” (in Appetite) won the 1988 Malahat Long Poem Prize and “from The Shambles” won both the 1992 Malahat Long Poem Prize and the National Magazine Award’s Gold for poetry. She has written a short thesis on Margaret Avison: “‘Conversation with the Star Messenger’: An Enquiry into Margaret Avison’s Winter Sun” (Studies in Canadian Literature, 6:1, 1981). As an Anglican priest she served a parish in Québec City, whence she retired to the shores of the St Lawrence with her philosopher-husband Tom Settle.
“What I’m proud of, actually, is Montreal, and Québec my adoptive home, for having created this Prize. As to winning it, that was a total unhoped-for-unthought-of. I was so glad just to make it into the Global Anthology! But it’s uncanny, the pleasure it gives that the judge seems to have ‘got’ what I was trying to toss aloft. I’m immensely grateful.” - Mia Anderson
Comments from the 2013 Prize Judge
Don Paterson, editor of Picador (the poetry imprint of Macmillan) and 2013 prize judge of the Montreal International Poetry Prize said of Anderson’s poem “The Antenna”:
““The Antenna” is that rare thing – a conceit which has the good taste not to outstay its welcome, but which also makes us think again about its subject in an entirely new way. This poem about our spiritual “receivership” is clever, musical, funny, and full of memorable lines; it manages – deliciously – to be simultaneously lyric and ironic in tone, and is full of delightful shifts of register. (To get from WD40 to the evening sky in a couple of lines without crunching the gears really is some feat.) It also has a nugget of real Jack Gilbert-ian wisdom at its heart – “wisdom” being something one often thinks one has found in a poem, but which usually turns out to be the fool’s gold of mere sentiment. We will, indeed, need more than a chisel and some elbow grease if we’re to pry out that damn thing – that long–unused, rusted head–ariel; however poems which broadcast as confidently as this one give me hope that it might really be down there.”
Without Further Ado, The 2013 Winning Poem!
For Mike Endicott
The antenna is a growth not always
functional in all people.
Some can hoist their antenna with
remarkable ease—like greased lightning.
In some it is broken, stuck there in its old winged
fin socket way down under the shiny surface
never to issue forth.
Others make do with a little mobility,
a little reception, a sudden spurt of music
and joy, an aberrant hope.
And some—the crazies,
the fools of God—drive around
or sit or even sleep
with this great thin-as-a-thread
home-cobbled monkey-wrenched filament
teetering above their heads
and picking up the great I AM like
some hacker getting Patmos on his toaster.
And some, with WD40 or Jig-a-loo
or repeated attempts to pry the thing up
or chisel at the socket
do not give up on this antenna
because they have heard of how it works
sometimes, how when the nights are clear
and the stars just so and the new moon has all but set,
the distant music of the spheres is transformative
and they believe in the transformation.
It is the antenna they have difficulty believing in.
by Mia Anderson