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THE WINNER IS ROBIN RICHARDSON


WITHOUT A ROOF

Good god I'm gorgeous, open
     on the operating table, so impeccably pink
pearl you could drape me on a hotel heiress,
     make a mint. It is a costly transformation:

girl to goddess, curve to cosmic pin-up,
    star-strong in my homemade aristocracy.
The ring, I mean. The one he gave me days
    before I lifted like some unfeeling winged

thing on a plane that didn't crash.
    What's worse I'm well, not huffy, hidden
from the day, not having ended anyone,
    unsympathetic in the most exquisite way.

Nude, open on a billboard in the Amazon
    as pythons crawl inside to please. He disapproves:
the carefree sovereignty of solitude,
    almost anorexic silhouette. They say

it's tactless to be happy, living is an exercise
    in letting go, existence as a river runs
its course regardless of our ripples, but
    they're wrong. I'm running with it wrapped

around me, a translucent, minnow-print
     kimono, full of flow and following
a pathless cut through woods. There's freedom
     in what no one knows.


- winning poem by ROBIN RICHARDSON

Robin Richardson is the author of two collections of poetry, and is Editor-in-Chief at Minola Review. Her work has appeared in Salon, Hazlitt, Poetry Magazine, Tin House, Partisan, Joyland, The North American Review, and many others. She holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She has been shortlisted for the CBC, Walrus, and Lemon Hound Poetry Prizes. Richardson’s latest collection, Sit How You Want, is forthcoming with Véhicule Press. Poems from the collection have been adapted to song by composer Andrew Staniland for The Brooklyn Art Song Society, and premiered in 2016 in New York. Richardson’s Memoir “Like Father” is represented by Samantha Haywood at Transatlantic Agency.

whip-smart as Emily Berry

Judge's comments: Of the over 350 poems considered, this one (along with that by Emily Osborne, my runner-up, and someone any press would be happy to snap up) particularly stood out for seeming to combine the unlikely elements of eroticism, environmentalism, science and myth, with wit and surprise. Readers in North America will not be surprised - Richardson is a rising star there, and this poem shows why - its contemporary twist on metaphysical poetics is as dark as P. Lockwood's, her self-examination as Algonquin Round Table whip-smart as E. Berry's; there are perhaps a dozen younger women poets now writing in English, vying to be our age's Plath. (Hera L. Bird also comes to mind). Here we have Canada's answer to that seemingly futile, morbidly appealing quest. But this poem is far more than that would imply - its own glamorous volatility, medical weirdness, and brilliance of metaphor, is rather original. - DR TODD SWIFT, London, 18 May, 2017

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