Home > Awards > “Gran Vals” by Ben Ladouceur wins the Earle Birney Poetry Prize

Earle Birney (1904-1995)

PRISM international is proud to announce that the winner of the coveted 2012 Earle Birney Poetry Prize is none other than Ben Ladouceur for his lovely, idiosyncratic, iridescent missed connection of a poem “Gran Vals,” which originally appeared in PRISM 51:1 and which is reprinted below with permission.

Earle Birney established UBC’s MFA program in Creative Writing in 1965–the first university program in Canada. The Earle Birney prize, awarded annually and worth $500, is PRISM‘s only in-house prize. A very special thanks to Mme. Justice Wailan Low for her generous ongoing support!!

Without further ado, ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in-between or beyond, Ben Ladouceur:

Gran Vals
Ben Ladouceur

Text message from Daniel:

I don’t know where you are but if you can see the point on the horizon where the sun is about to set, it’s beautiful. The clouds look (1/2)

And the second part never came.

That week the sky was always violet at dinnertime, and some ducks always resided in its bottom right-hand corner, punctuation marks, to render the gorgeousness legible.

I left my windowless office and made for the waterside, the locks.

Violet and matte like a belly smeared in lube because the bottle cracked – how hard, that one night, did we laugh!

Something arrives and grants you faster access to those driest, smallest zones. Now I understand. I have been a problem. I have been ameliorated.

The clouds look what, Daniel?

— [The clouds look] like the ghosts of men who died while procuring oil from the sea before you were born, before even I was born. (2/2)
— [The clouds look] like a type of candy floss they don’t make anymore. (2/2)
— [The clouds look] so weary, from what, who could say. (2/2)
[The clouds look] at me and I look at them and there is nowhere I cannot go, Ben, I have all the materials I need. (2/2)

Thanks again for the great writing Ben! Keep up the good work!

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