Sample Poem from Carmelita McGrath’s Winterset Award Nominee, Escape Velocity

Escape Velocity

This month, the province’s richest literary award, The Winterset Award, announced the shortlist for its $10,000 prize. The Winterset recognizes “excellence in Newfoundland writing” in all genres, from children’s books to poetry, and novels to nonfiction. This year’s shortlist is comprised of Lisa Moore’s novel, Caught, Paul Bowdring’s novel, The Strangers’ Gallery, and Carmelita McGrath’s terrific collection of poetry, Escape Velocity. It’s a collection Anne Simpson called “a rare achievement.” McGrath is a favourite local poet to many poetry readers, and every poem, every line  in this collection shines. Should she win it this year, she’ll be the first female poet to do so, and only the second poet to win the award since its inception in 2000.

Below is a poem that plays off of some famous graffiti in St. John’s

“My Heart Beats Kelly”

ED ❤ Kelly
…..MAN – graffiti on a wall, downtown St. John’s

Red as the tidal pools, their rock and wrack
Red as eyelids shuttered to the sun
Red as the sun itself, its livid dawn
Red as dawn’s glow upon empty space
Where you should lie, my heart beats Kelly

Red as the envy of every other man
Red as the heels you wore to catch their eye
Red as the pulsing lights that fired your form
Red on the dance floor, your backlit blood
I’m watching offstage, my heart beats Kelly

Red as rose, red as valentine
Red as every lie our love was sold
Red as your lacquered nails upon my skin
Red as the bloodied rising moon, each like the last
Until the last, my heart beats Kelly

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