Home > Awards > “Inheritance” by Carla Drysdale wins the Earle Birney Poetry Prize

Earle Birney (1904-1995)

PRISM international is proud to announce that the winner of the coveted 2013 Earle Birney Poetry Prize is none other than Carla Drysdale for her smart, sincere, heartbreaking poem “Inheritance,” published in PRISM 52:3, available now!

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 and gentlemen, Carla Drysdale:


One of my two sons devours books
as I did, bespectacled, silent.

There are childhood facts I’d like to check,
but the past is unpopular

with my mother. Her husband wasn’t a reader.
His eye was on me during the day

and at night, when the door opened
and carved a wedge of hall light

into my dark room. I would wait for it.
Her pain was mine when

I heard the hush through the wall
after one of their bedroom fights

and her fall into Valium numbness.
My other son peers into

the legacy behind my eyes,
at what I’m trying to hide.

His pleasure and pain
are always mine

as when he kisses his cat or bends
his pen in half and yells at me,

enraged by the words
on the page

in front of him.

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

Carla Drysdale’s first book of poems, Little Venus, was published by Toronto’s Tightrope Books in 2010. Her poems have been published in such literary journals as The Same, LIT, the Literary Review of Canada, Canadian Literature, The Fiddlehead, Global City Review, Confrontation, Come Horses, 97 Inc. and in the anthology, Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo. She is currently completing her second manuscript of poems, All Born Perfect. She lives with her husband and two sons in France, near Geneva, where she works as an editor and journalist.