Concordia poet Kelly Norah Drukker wins — twice!
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated on Wednesday, November 23.
Kelly Norah Drukker’s first collection of poems, Small Fires, (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016) has won the Concordia University First Book Prize and the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.
The awards were presented at the annual Quebec Writers' Federation (QWF) Awards Gala this Tuesday, November 22, at the Corona Theatre.
Drukker's poems had already earned her a CBC Literary Award and a Norma Epstein Foundation Award in Creative Writing. She was also a finalist for the 2016 Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. Her work has appeared in The Malahat Review and enRoute, among other places.
Currently, Drukker is pursuing a PhD in humanities at Concordia.
Her poem, “Niamh,” is from the first section of Small Fires. It’s set on Inis Mόr, the largest of the three Aran Islands, off the west coast of County Galway, Ireland.
You go down deep. Touch the white pelt of winter
ocean, stroke the sand that rolls like bear fur, white-edged
softness of loosed minerals. Hair from the shore, seaweed
bands cold mouths around your burnt and salted skin.
You swim every winter’s day; the ocean calls your feet
to make their way to the violet mouth of foam
and periwinkles. You feel them, clipped and silvered
under the ocean’s shell, for cold makes us immune to slights
and slivers. A sliced toe on beach glass blooms to anemones
beneath the ocean’s skin, four months of slicing open winter’s
white-capped belly, sliding in. Once I saw you swim, an otter
or a winter bear, and stopped myself, for why does woman
become some other animal when she enters winter water, hair
curly and gold-tipped with salt and frost? Niamh, you move
slowly, shoulders rounded, fleshy pink. If I painted you
another way, if I only said you lived alone, cuticles raw
with coal dust, I’d be forcing emptiness into your days that isn’t
there—for the ocean’s mouth, barbed with blue, and sea grass
moving soundlessly across your feet receive you: free of flesh
and time, swimming out to meet the waves as all sea creatures do.
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