REPOST: Prize Culture: You’re Next! : The Winnipeg Review

A very interesting article published in THE WINNIPEG REVIEW today. have you checked out THE WINNIPEG REVIEW? you should! it’s my favourite new Winnipeg online magazine about literature, arts and stuff.

first of all, i love a smartly written editorial. a smartly written editorial is like a smartly dressed man. mmmm

this piece is a total conversation starter. i’m not sure if i agree. i’m not sure if i disagree. but, well, gee, i am thinking about it….and i really wanna talk about it….


Prize Culture: You’re Next!

By Shane Neilson

The next poetry contest in Canada is coming!  It’s a contest that competes… with other contests. It takes all the winners of the other contests conducted in a calendar year and decides upon one winner (there can only be one) that, because they are the one winner, are forwarded all the loot from those other, lesser contests. This meta-contest will have a game show name like Jackpot Enjambment! or Stanza of Fortune! Scott Griffin will try to be the game show host, just as he is for the current Canadian programming, but we’ll trade up for a poetry-loving billionaire who will soon buy all the poetry presses in Canada. To save them, of course! Then we’ll have a single press, the homogeneity that we all strive for, ultimately, with what I call Prize Culture.

What is Prize Culture?

Prize Culture is about the belief that a poet isn’t any good until they’ve won a prize. The poetry that got them to the cusp of the prize is only validated upon the receipt of that prize. In other words, the writing of poetry matters less than the winning of awards, which leads to careerism and reputation cultivation, friend-making and logrolling. All of which happened before the advent of Prize Culture, but when Prize Culture took over, poetry was doomed.

No poet is safe. Prize Culture Vultures swoop upon the very first book a poet publishes. In this country it starts with the Gerald Lampert Prize. A new poet is instantaneously taken seriously upon a shortlist spot. They bask in attention, and Prize Culture anoints them as a poet “to watch.” I’ve been careful how I’ve phrased that: not a poet “to read.”

The masses of other debut poets become acquainted with neglect. Prize Culture can only love a few poets. The rest of the poets languish in obscurity, and they feel this obscurity acutely, because Prize Culture is their culture. It’s how they were raised. I was born an Anglophone in rural New Brunswick. I worked on a farm. I watched cartoons on Saturdays. I was a Catholic, was baptized, and confirmed. My parents tried to raise me right. Prize Culture has the same kind of indoctrination.


oh there is much more… check out the full article here!!!


...happy thursday, that is like a friday, but it’s really a thursday,




Katherena Vermette