Posted on March 24, 2023
Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of The Fiddlehead. We are thrilled to congratulate Moni Brar, winner of the 33rd Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize for Best Poem! We’re grateful to our contest readers, Evan Jurmain and Rosie Legott, as well as to our three contest judges: Michael Prior, shalan joudry, and Dominique Béchard. On Brar’s winning poem, “Dispossession in Five Acts [or How to Be a Model Minority or Not],” joudry notes that the poem “demonstrates complexity” through “nuanced rhythm and imagery” while Béchard had this to say: “I appreciate this poem for its depth of emotion — it is often hopeless in a way that resists lazy poetic hope. I also like how this poem moves between states of feeling (anger, fear, despair) with — if not confidence — a sincerity that devalues (or questions) confidence. Besides, I enjoyed the image of a voice lost “between the seat cushions” — a “space / filled with big voices and big, luscious lives.”
In Brar’s winning poem, the speaker finds it difficult to “swagger,” interrupted by a complex discomfort around inhabiting stolen lands. Spring is a time of walking, of wandering, inhabiting the re-woken land. But how do we walk, here, with caution and respect? The unease of dwelling as settlers on Turtle Island pervades many of the works in this issue. So, too, does the question of swagger, of styles of movement, appropriate gait. Kawai Shen walks us down a flight of stairs and into a basement fetish party, heady with the smell of oud. Chelsea Peters tours us through muddy riverbanks where trash becomes treasure. Kirsten Madsen tracks the awkward soaring of shuttlecocks. Nicole Boyce bounds, agile as a rabbit. Jan Conn pauses to reflect: “If you stand still long enough the trees forget you exist and draw nearer.” All the works in this issue have a literary swagger about them, a sureness in their hesitations. One of the joys of reading is the moment of arrest, passing from wandering to wondering — we wish you happy reading, and copious pauses along the way.
— David Huebert
Ekwpahak / Fredericton