With only eight days left to submit to our 2016 Poetry Contest, we thought it would be appropriate to have this Thursday’s throwback be last year’s poetry contest winner. Phoebe Wang’s chapbook, Occasional Emergencies, was published with Toronto’s Odourless Press in Fall 2013. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Arc Poetry, Canadian Literature, CV2, Descant, Grain, Malahat Review, Ricepaper Magazine, and Diaspora Dialogues’ TOK 6: Writing the New Toronto anthology. She currently serves as Reviews and Outreach Coordinator with Puritan Magazine.
Click here to submit to our 2016 Poetry Contest and to check out guidelines. And if you’d like to read first runner-up Jessie Jones’ poem “Morning Bells are Ringing”, you can check out our digitized archives here, courtesy of UBC Library’s Digitization Centre.
Bringing the future into the present—
I tell my students it should be clear
what the participle’s modifying, not to misplace
meaning or to leave it dangling.
The billboard’s out of date,
the line already built, though I’m still
running behind. A ten-year-old
asks if the world was always
in colour, and I say yes but we lacked
the means to capture light’s crowded spectrum,
wavelengths of visible difference.
All he knows is grainy,
spent soil and farmhouses fading to white,
juxtaposed with jewel-toned
box stores, condos leveling up beside
the spiciest Szechuan north of the expressway.
Let’s take a step back—
my accent’s flat as these fields,
cadences climbing up the old bed
of glaciers that stalked off without a word.
It took me ages to get here. One minute
fitting my essays into narrow departmental slots,
the next driving home the take-aways,
the bigger picture. From the Old French essai
we get the sense of a trial, an attempt.
The wind’s doing its best to make it
up to Newmarket by six. Each week, I show how
to make transitions. They follow my example.