2023 Senior Online Qualifiers Judges

Elizabeth Bachinsky

Poet Elizabeth Bachinsky was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and raised in Prince George and Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Her second book, Home of Sudden Service, was nominated for a Governor General’s Award for Poetry. Bachinsky, who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, lives in Vancouver, where she teaches at Douglas College.

David Bradford

David Bradford is a poet, translator and curator based in Tio'tia:ke (Montréal). He holds a BA from Concordia University and an MFA from the University of Guelph, where he was an Ontario Graduate Fellow. A lifelong Montrealer raised in an allophone household, Bradford’s work emerges from critical mediations of historically dominant narratives and personal interventions in the archive. He is the author of Dream of No One but Myself, an interdisciplinary inquiry into the versioning aspects of Bradford and his family’s histories with abuse and trauma. The hybrid collection won the A.M. Klein QWF Prize for Poetry, was a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize, Governor General Literary Award and Gerard Lampert Memorial Award, and longlisted for the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal and the Betsy Warland Between Genres Award. His work has also appeared in BrickPrairie FireThe FiddleheadfillingStationThe Literary Review of CanadaThe Capilano Review, and elsewhere. Bradford's second book of poetry, Bottom Rail on Top, works to complicate prevailing conceptions of Blackness by staging one personal present alongside American histories of antebellum Black life. The collection is forthcoming in 2023.

Véronique Cyr

Born in Montreal in 1978, Véronique Cyr has published five books of poems and a story, La jeune fille des négatifs, with Les Herbes rouges in 2022. She has given several public readings in Quebec and Europe, and has been published in the magazines ExitMoebiusLe Sabord and Estuaire (she was literary director of the latter from 2014 to 2017). She received the prix Joseph S-Stauffer from the Canada Council for the Arts in 2011. In 2014, she was awarded the Jean-Pierre Guay Scholarship from UNEQ and her book Force de traînée was a finalist for the prix Alain-Grandbois. In 2020, she received the prix Félix-Antoine-Savard from the Festival de poésie de Trois-Rivières. Her favourite themes are childhood, memory, intimacy and the collective, and familial and romantic ties.

Carole David

Carole David (1954 - ) is a Quebec poet and writer who has won the Prix Émile-Nelligan and the Prix des Terrasses Saint-Sulpice from the journal Estuaire. Her complex and striking poetic language investigates the very structure of poetry, and highlights the abyss between the written voice and the real voice. Transparent and enigmatic, her poems explore true access to life, an openness to the world, and the challenge of love. Strong emotions are scattered throughout her poems and are manifested in everyday themes. Her poetry lives in the vertigo of what is truly alive.

Ariel Gordon

Ariel Gordon (she/her) is a Winnipeg/Treaty 1 territory-based writer, editor, and enthusiast. She is the ringleader of Writes of Spring, a National Poetry Month project with the Winnipeg International Writers Festival that appears in the Winnipeg Free Press. In 2019 Wolsak & Wynn published Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests, a collection of essays that combines science writing and the personal essay. It received a honourable mention for the 2020 Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize for Environmental Humanities and Creative Writing and was shortlisted for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. Her most recent book is TreeTalk (At Bay Press, fall 2020), a public poetry project where Ariel hangs poems in trees and asks passersby to add their thoughts, ideas, and secrets. It was nominated for three Manitoba Book Awards. In winter 2022, she was the Writer in Residence with the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.

Chloé LaDuchesse

Born in Montreal, Chloé LaDuchesse has been published in several magazines and collectives. A feminist with a passion for words, music and boxing, she lives in Sudbury, Ontario. She is the author of  Exosquelette and of Furies, a poetry collection published by Mémoire d'encrier in 2017 and a finalist for the Trillium Award. She was the Poet Laureate for the City of Greater Sudbury (2018-2019). She also founded Expozine Sudbury, an annual zine fair, in 2017, and has participated in several festivals, literary evenings and book fairs as an author and presenter.

James Langer

Born in Kitchener, ON, but raised in Heart’s Desire, Trinity Bay, NL, James Langer is the author of Gun Dogs (Anansi), which won The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. In 2013, he co-edited The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry. He has written both formal and free verse and hybrids of the two. His primary influences have been Seamus Heaney and Les Murray though he cites many authors as influences: Robert FrostElizabeth Bishop, Derek Walcott, Carol Ann Duffy, and Alice Oswald, among others. He earned his master’s degree in English from the University of New Brunswick in 2006 and has taught creative writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He lives in St. John’s.

Y S Lee

Y S Lee is an emerging poet. Her work has been shortlisted for Australia’s 2021 Peter Porter Poetry Prize, longlisted for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize, and a finalist for the 2022 Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize. Her poems also appear/are forthcoming in EVENT, Rattle, Room, The Literary Review of Canada, The Australian Book Review, The Malahat Review, and Arc Poetry. She’s at work on a first collection that explores the effects of colonialism, the Second World War, immigration, and language, on her extended family. Ying is also the author of The Agency (Candlewick Press), an award-winning young adult mystery tetralogy about a women's detective agency in Victorian London.

Jacob Scheier

Jacob is a Governor General’s Award-winning poet from Toronto. His third full length collection Is This Scary? — which engages mental and chronic, physical illness — was published in spring 2021 with ECW Press. The book was called "witty and affecting" by the Toronto Star. He has facilitated poetry workshops for over a decade, including being the former poet in residence at Madonna Catholic Secondary School, in Toronto, through Descant’s Writers in the Schools program. He has also facilitated writing workshops with Indigenous communities in Western Ontario and the Yukon. He is most interested in writing out of personal experience, and particularly about being a psychiatric consumer-survivor, in the tradition of the confessional poets like Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell. He is, additionally, interested in writing from a Disability Studies or ‘Crip’ perspective, and often incorporates humour in his poems — inspired by the wit of Leonard Cohen, Al Purdy and the New York School poets, such as Frank O’Hara. 

Neil Surkan

Neil Surkan was born in Penticton, BC. He is the author of the poetry collections Unbecoming (Fall 2021) and On High (2018), both from McGill-Queen’s University Press, and the chapbooks Their Queer Tenderness (Knife-Fork-Book, 2020) and Super, Natural (Anstruther Press, 2017). His poems and reviews have appeared in numerous Canadian literary magazines.

Neil earned a PhD in English from the University of Calgary in 2021 after completing an MA-CRW at the University of Toronto and a BA (Hons) at the University of Victoria. He currently lives and teaches in Nanaimo on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples - the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation - with Luca, Edi, and Lloyd.

Neil loves poems that make the world feel unfamiliar and, therefore, more precious — poems that merge vibrant descriptions, startling observations and intimations, and bewildering approaches to form. Poets who're influencing him right now include Craig Santos Perez, Diane Seuss, Ange Mlinko, Mark Ford, Sarah Howe, Michael Hofmann, Durs Grunbein, Tess Liem, A.E. Stallings, Tomas Tranströmer, Eduardo C. Corral, Natalie Diaz, Bill Knott, Natalie Shapero, Wendy Xu, Lisa Robertson, and Elizabeth Bishop.

Website: neilsurkan.com

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