New frontiers for art in the age of Covid-19: The Montreal International Poetry Prize

06 May 2020 - 10:57
Poetry still reigns supreme - even in the age of a pandemic.
Poetry still reigns supreme - even in the age of a pandemic.
Image: Supplied

Calling all nascent - and published - poets. Entries for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, which awards $20,000 CAD (about R263,000) to the writer of a single poem, are now open. Entries are anonymous, and a blind, mobile-friendly judging process has enabled past winners — including a Torontonian bartender and an Anglican priest — as well as non-professional poets from around the world, to engage in a global digital arts community.

In addition, we’ve already received several impressive submissions from SA.

Worldwide digital poetry competition will award $20,000 for the best English poem of 40 lines or fewer

In an age marked by global quarantines and climate change, the Montreal International Poetry Prize presents people everywhere with the opportunity to engage in a revolutionary creative community in a digital space, turning the often solitary pursuit of writing poetry into a communal endorsement of the arts and opening new digital frontiers for poetry and artistic connection in a time of crisis and isolation.

About the Prize

The Montreal International Poetry Prize, a biennial competition founded in 2010 on donations from Leonard Cohen, Asa Boxer and others, will award $20,000 CAD to one poem of 40 or fewer lines.

This year’s judge, distinguished Pulitzer-Prize winning American poet Yusef Komunyakaa, will select a winner from the 50-poem shortlist selected by an international jury of acclaimed poets hailing from Canada, Australia, the US, the UK, Haiti, Iran, and India. Shortlisted poems will be published online and in print in a global poetry anthology. The Prize has already received more than 1,500 entries from over 53 countries. Deadline: June 1.

A crowdfunded “poet to poet” prize

The prize’s cash award is crowdfunded from entry fees, and its digital application allows entrants to donate an entry fee to an unknown poet who cannot otherwise afford to enter. For many, entering is in itself an experiment in community building and altruism in the arts.

A global poetry network

International prize entrants both join and endorse a digital poetry network collectively working to disregard the limits of status, border, and stratification so often constraining major national prizes in the arts.

A blind, mobile-friendly submission and selection process removes barriers for entry, allowing people of all ages, creeds, and nationalities to engage in a global arts community.

This year, entries have already come in from countries around the world, from Saudi Arabia, St Lucia, Hong Kong to Pakistan, Poland, SA, Cameroon and more.

  • Issued by Prof Michael Nicholson, Department of English, McGill University (Quebec, Canada)