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Power poets

Students awarded honours during Gregory J. Power poetry contest

Student Life

Local multidisciplinary artist Matthew Hollett has received the Gregory J. Power Poetry Award for his poem, With Tongue.

Mr. Hollett, who is also the Newfoundland Quarterly’s first Creative Non-Fiction Fellow, won first prize in the annual competition honouring Memorial’s poets.

From left are Gregory J. Power Jr., Reuben Canning Finkel, Lisa Bartlett, Matthew Hollett, William M. K. Hilliard, Mary Germaine, David Pittman and Julia Power.
From left are Gregory J. Power Jr., Reuben Canning Finkel, Lisa Bartlett, Matthew Hollett, William M. K. Hilliard, Mary Germaine, David Pittman and Kelly Power.

His work has most recently been published in The Malahat Review and Riddle Fence, and previously in anthologies such as The March Hare Anthology, and Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry. He was recently longlisted for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize, and won the Malahat Review’s 2017 Open Season Award for Creative Nonfiction.

“Taste, texture, temperature are all here, all evocative.” — Dr. Joel Deshaye

Mr. Hollett was presented with a cheque for $300 by Kelly Power, granddaughter of the award’s namesake, at a ceremony on Wednesday, April 5. Gregory J. Power Jr. was also present at the ceremony.

“The cleverly tongue-in-cheek, tongue-twisting vocabulary of With Tongue is sonically playful and semantically rich, one of the combinations I love most in poetry,” said Dr. Joel Deshaye, who chaired the awards committee and hosted the ceremony.

With Tongue is a self-reflective commentary on the materiality of the body used to make words. Taste, texture, temperature are all here, all evocative.”

An extract from With Tongue by Matthew Hollett follows below.

Months after you moved

I found half a cherry Chapstick under my bed, and you lived

at the tip of my tongue for a week. The full meaning of a language

is never translatable into another. Someone warned me once

that if I licked a nine-volt it would stick,

and I lapped it up. I’m still reluctant to trust

bus-stop poles in winter, but can’t resist

the sriracha nozzle — sharp plastic and sudden heat

pricking like a syringe. When my language

waggles too quickly I trip up in it, start to

slip. The full meaning of a tongue is never translatable

into another. Licking my lips

usually fixes that.

Second, third and honourable mentions

Mary Germaine took second place, valued at $200 for The Look on Your Face when You Learn They Make Antacids out of Marble.

Ms. Germaine studies philosophy and English at Memorial, and will begin her master’s at the University of Toronto this September. She was recently awarded a Canadian Graduate Scholarship to write pastoral poems about garbage.

William M. K. Hilliard came in third, valued at $100 for Our Father’s Ghost. Mr. Hilliard is a mature student who recently returned to Memorial to complete majors in English and anthropology.

Honourable mentions were awarded to David Pittman for Words about Drugs that Do Not Rhyme, Reuben Canning Finkel for Augery and to Lisa Bartlett for On Water Street East. 

Lisa Bartlett reads from her Jeroboam award-winning poem, Cape Spear.
Photo: Janet Harron

Jeroboam Poetry Prize

The Jeroboam Poetry Prize was presented to Ms. Bartlett for Cape Spear.

The award was established by the founding members of Jeroboam, a student publishing house, to honour a poem with a subject unique to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The competition is open to all Memorial undergraduates and graduate students. This year, the judges were Dr. Joel Deshaye and Prof. Mary Dalton.

Gregory J. Power was born in Dunville, N.L., in 1909 and first achieved recognition as an athlete. In 1930 he represented Newfoundland at the first British Empire Games. He was a member of the House of Assembly for Placentia-St. Mary’s from 1951-59, serving as both minister of Finance and minister of Highways in those years.

The Gregory J. Power Poetry Awards recognizes Mr. Power’s literary gifts; he twice won the O’Leary Newfoundland Poetry Awards and published two important books: Gems of Newfoundland Poetry (1967) and The Power of the Pen (1989).

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