April 8, 2008
Hi All, just a short update. As stated in the news section we ended up getting some fairly extensive publishing in the Minnesota Review for several poems. We also just made another appearance in the March Edition of the Monitor, put out monthly by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Thanks to Ed Finn for helping us out. I will still be trying this spring and summer to get the anthology completed. I believe we have a good shot at getting around 90 poems published. So I will be following up with many of those poets who were selected during the contest judging in the various stages of screening to seek permission for publishing.
I am also thinking that given the success, it might be worth it to give it all another shot, say "Being At Work in 2009". If you would like to give me a hand in organizing or sponsorship, please email me at, mostlyacog1(at)yahoo(dot)ca
Hope all is well.
It has been awhile but it looks like three groups of poems will soon or have been published. The first will be published in Our Times, Canada's independent labour magazine. They will be publishing 3 poems over a period of time so have a look in their latest issue amd past issues. A second set of 9 poems will be published in the summer edition of the Minnesota Review. Jim Daniels, the poetry editor of the MR coordinated the article and selected the poems. Many thanks go to Jim and those at the MR. The third grooup will be a small collection of 5 poems to appear in the summer edition of the "Moniter", a monthly publication by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
We tried, given the review process, to select poems from the two short lists. Hopefully there will be more opportunities for publication.
After a bit of a break from the contest, I will be working on the next stage of the project which will comprise getting the anthology off the groud. I have found a small Canadian publisher who has shown interest so far. I will be researching other opportunities before going ahead. If you know of any publisher's that might be interested contact me here.
(the email for this site has been badly spammed too many times so I no longer check it)
Gary Geddes runner-up in the contest has announceda new book that will be arriving this fall.
On June 17, 1958, Vancouver’s Second Narrows Bridge collapsed while under construction. Eighteen men plunged to their deaths and later a diver in the rescue effort. On the cusp of the 50th anniversary of the disaster, critically acclaimed poet Gary Geddes in his upcoming book, Falsework provides an intimate portrait of the many lives affected by the toppling of that seemingly indomitable structure. With a mix of poetry, archival photos and narration, Geddes has created a unique retrospective that explores the subtle relations between workers , their work ,families and everyday life amidst both the suddenness and eternalness of such a disaster. His book offers the reader a passageway to a unique observation post that provides an up close yet panoramic emotional journey.
For more info see his publisher's site:
At long last the final results. Congrats to all.
1. Feeding Rena, Paul Tyler, ON, Canada
2. Ladies and Escorts, Gary Geddes, BC, Canada
3. The Pickers, Andrena Zawinski, CA, USA
4. Last Year in Nitinat, M.C. Warrior, BC, Canada
5. Check Out Girl, Joan Mazza, VA, USA
1- Fourteen Hours, Teri Anderson, CA, USA
2- Marketable Skills, Cindy Dean- Morrison, SK, Canada
3- Re:Search, Terry M. Dugan, NY, USA
4- The Way Back to the Shelter: Talking With Angels, Richard K. Weems, NJ, USA
5- Strike, Peggy Smith Duke, TN, USA
I would like to thank the judges Tom Wayman, Susan Eisenberg, Maureen Hynes, the United Steelworkers, the Canadian Autoworkers and the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers for their support in this project. Also a special mention to Bob Hatfield, Colin Morton, Mary Lee Bragg, Sherri Linkon, Jim Daniels, Nic Coles, David Carpenter, Eric Lee, Ann Schibli, Derek Blackadder, Philip Levine, Kate Braid, Sandy Shreve, Douglas Roy, David O'meara, my son Andrew and the many others who helped inspire, guide, and teach me and then helped ensure that the pieces stayed together through the entire process.
Latest Update: Dec. 18, 2006
We are almost there, just waiting on 2 more judging results. I have been informed that we should receive these sometime over the holiday season.
Thank you for your patience.
After much work we are ready to announce a final short list of poems that will be considered in the final round of judging. It has taken some time to get to this point and I want to thank all of those involved. A local group of poets, artists and labour representatives met several times this summer and fall to perform the pre-screening and their hard work is deeply appreciated. There were so many good poems submitted that getting to a final short list was a difficult process. The pre-screening and preliminary judging was based mainly on those poems that reflected the poets own experiences within the labour process. I apologize for the delay, but given the unexpected large response to the contest, we did the best we could and I appreciate your patience. I still do not have a specific date in which the final judging will be completed but I am hoping before the end of the year. Mostly like within the next three weeks.
In no particular order here is the short list of experienced poets along with the title of their poem.
Bless the Babies, Laura Heidy, VA, USA
A Good Place to Start, Linda Lee Crosfield, BC, Canada
Ladies and Escorts, Gary Geddes, BC, Canada
Shelley Shrink Wrapping, Barry Butson, ON, Canada
Relief Assembler, Leon Shann, VIC, Austrailia
At Midnight Talks Failed, Susan McMaster, NS, Canada
Undertows, donnarkevic, WV, USA
Last Year in Nitinat, M.C. Warrior, BC, Canada
Behind the Barricade, Keith Inman, ON, Canada
Veepees, Jim Boring, FL, USA
What's My Mother F***ing Name, Amber Dawn Upfold, BC, Canada
Substitute Teacher's Lament, Richard Stevenson, AB, Canada
Check Out Girl, Joan Mazza, VA, USA
The Summer I Made the Headlines, Srinjay Chakravarti, New Delhi, India
Resignation Fantasy, Alisa Gordaneer, BC, Canada
White Cars and Communists, Kath MacLean, AB, Canada
Feeding Rena, Paul Tyler, ON, Canada
Taking A Pulse, Blaise Allen, FL, USA
Johnny Doe, Yvonne M. Estrada, CA, USA
Maid to Order, Lea Harper, ON, Canada
The Pickers, Andrena Zawinski, CA, USA
And finally, here is the short list for beginning and emerging poets. Some amazing poems here. In no particular order they are:
Marketable Skills, Cindy Dean- Morrison, SK, Canada
Re:Search, Terry M. Dugan, NY, USA
You're Not An Innocent Check-out Girl, Anne Baldo, ON, Canada
Wake UP, Ayodeji Fadimu, Nigeria
Trees, Ammy Attas, ON, Canada
Fourteen Hours, Teri Anderson, CA, USA
National Blank Book, Sally Bellerose, MA, USA
Eshet Chail, Yossie Faybish, Belguim
Copy Girl, Donica Daughtry, CA, USA
Glory Days, Carla Winter, BC, Canada
Life in the Mail Processing Plant, Cindy McCallum, MB, Canada
Half Lives and the Nuclear Family, C.B. Sikstrom, Russia
Safety's Job 1, Howard Brown, BC, Canada
The Way Back to the Shelter: Talking With Angels, Richard K. Weems, NJ, USA.
From One Hoot' to the Next, Cassie Ann Ross, PA, USA
Angela, Hope Payson, CT, USA
Sweater Factory, Beth Williams, Michigan, USA
Atlantic Steeds, Nancy Bennet, BC, Canada
Strike, Peggy Smith Duke, TN, USA
$14/hr, Steven Mundy, ON, Canada
Things I Have Learned at the Office, Rhonda Douglas, ON, Canada
Tombstones, Susan Keith, CA, USA
Congratulations to all; and for those that did not make it to the short lists, we still have the anthology to get yourself published.
An Anthology On the Horizon
I would also like to announce that once the contest is completed we will be exploring the notion of putting together an anthology of a selection of poems submitted. It should prove to be an interesting and worthwhile adventure. I have started putting together an editorial advisory group for the project and I am quite excited by some of the activity and successes we have had so far.
First off I am very honoured to make the announcement that Philip Levine has generously donated an unpublished poem to be included in the anthology. It is a treasure of a poem and will be under lock and key until the anthology comes out.
I have received quite a few emails asking me why I am running this contest. So I will answer with the following short bit and a follow up poem. I have spent a majority of my worklife (about 14 years) studying labour and work. Both from a practical and theoretical standpoint and of course from an experience basis. I have created some quite large surveys that attempted to define and measure various concepts of work. However, I have never witnessed a vehicle that can capture the essence of worklife like that of a poem. I have read stories from workers, watched video documentaries, been subjected to a whole variety of data sets that monitor work, traveled around to study many varieties of shop floors, but the most sophisticated method I have witnessed is through the artistic abilities of the poet and their poems. So with that as my back drop I embarked on a mission to capture and add to the small but existing compendium of the poetry of work.
After reading all of the over 700 poems sent in to the contest, I wish I could share the thoughts that developed within me. It would do no justice to the range and depth of experiences by writing up some report. So I thought that I would write a poem to convey some notion of the poems we received. This whole project has been the most fascinating experience I have had with my studies of work and I appreciate those poets that took the time and made the effort to submit their work. So I humbly offer up the following in reply that although it may not exclusively represent all of the poems, it captures a fairly large dynamic within the majority. I think!
Labouring Away In the Cosmos
by Paul Tulloch
The need of the one strikes the drum of the social,
Generating the beat for our singing through time.
The plodding of an eternal cycle of dreams;
and realities filled with the bulldozers of our ideas,
break apart and transform the flesh of the earth.
Forging deeper and deeper the rhythmic lesions and bruises
of cultures and struggle.
To continue on the survival and labour of the one.
Each generation given its turn at the wheel
of discovery and experience.
Holding the reins of history and the interpretation,
of the life world.
The dead and the living walking,
forever and ever hand in hand.
History is not something you read in a book,
it surrounds you completely, transparent in its suffocating grasp.
Every object, thought and idea,
debated, redesigned, critiqued,
planned and rethought.
Generational cycling of reproduction.
That table, that chair, and your plastic hair.
Your morality, religion and wars.
Experience; change; reproduce.
ever so finely, crudely, and somewhere in between.
The living, continuously congealing its layers
of additions and mistakes,
into the twisting nether
of the thoughts of the dead.
So utterly and completely has been the success,
that labour of the many is now nothing more than,
breathing life into the dead.
From the once trembling arms of our unsure spears,
to the nuclear arsenal hidden and waiting for annilation's call.
Every thought subjected and no object untouched,
to the blessing and nod of the now compiled dead.
Even gods and religion’s fleetingly flail
as they are swept into the dust bin of history,
replaced by the religion of science and new quest to know.
Fads, tradition and fancy, and the
conspicuousness of consumption.
Guided by the profits and losses that now account for the ends.
All reproduced by the commodity called labour.
Movement of arms, gears and electrons through CPUs,
liberate our need as our souls are bought
Individualim beaten and battered, staggers across the factory floor,
punching the time clock of worth.
Schedules become the hammers of life, pounding senseless,
The essence of humanity. Forging us into,
Our neat little packages of weekends and holidays,
15 minute breaks and union drives.
So much potential within our grasp,
to rewrite the books of survival, life and humanity.
What is it that I should call, I
you and me- us.
Not many ideas break free from the clutches of the dead,
just a few muffled banners and barricades asking where are
the rules for rulers.
No one politics seems to offer change.
Just different bureaucracies
and the same iron cage.
How can we ever change the minds of the dead!
Our poetry contest is now closed for submissions and judging has begun. I want to thank all those that made a submission to our poetry challenge. We had a tremendous response with over 700 poems submitted from just over 400 poets. We had submissions from right across the world from as many as 25 countries. Originally we were targeting Canada and the United States, but word about the challenge went through the internet and made it to many parts of the world. I only wish that we could have eased the language barrier somehow and potentially would have received many more. In fact we did have some poets translate their poems from their everyday language into english, and we thank them for their efforts.
We were not expecting to receive such a response, and therefore we will have to take more time than we thought to organize and complete the judging. Originally we optimistically estimated that judging would be complete by early September. Given the number of entries we will have to implement a pre-screening process and then pass on a more manageable number of poems to our distinguished judging panel. This will delay the contest and the announcement of the winning entries at least until late October or most likely early November. Sorry for the delay but we do not want to over work our judges.
I also want to thank all those that sent in a donation for the Movement For Canadian Literacy Organization. We raised just over $500 and we have sent every donation to them. All those that sent in a donation should receive a thank you note and a tax deductible receipt. We sent all of the donations recently (Sept 20) so please allow a bit of time for them to respond.
(Contest now closed)
Work in the hustle and bustle of the now is central to the human experience, yet rarely do we sit back and think about how work has come to define our being. In an attempt to explore this notion we are challenging experienced and beginner poets to submit poetry that captures their worklife experiences. We’re looking for poems by people about the work they personally do or have done, paid or unpaid, blue- or white- or no-collar. And for poems about the work of looking for work, how our hours at work affect the rest of our lives and the process of retiring from work.
In an attempt to reach people from all walks of life we have organized two contests; one contest for experienced poets and another contest for everybody else. Challenge our unique panel of judges and tell us about your work.
Susan Eisenberg - is an active, nationally-recognized artist/scholar from the USA. Licensed as a master electrician, she is involved in shaping the cultural expression and analytical thinking of the tradeswomen's movement nationally and internationally.Her latest book, “We’ll Call You If We Need You”, drawn from oral histories of tradeswomen pioneers, was selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, and is currently under development by MGM as a feature film. Susan continues to be involved in the tradeswomen’s movement nationally and internationally.
Buzz Hargrove - is the National President of the Canadian Autoworkers Union. Buzz has held this position since 1992 and has been active in the labour and arts community for many years.
Maureen Hynes - is an educator, poet and activist. Maureen won the Gerald Lampert Award for best first collection of poetry in 1995.In the fall of 2002, Maureen was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Prince Edward Island. She is also the poetry editor for Our Times, Canada’s national labour magazine.
Ken Neumann - is the National Director of Canada for the United Steel Workers of America. Ken has been an active member with the Steelworkers for over 30 years. He is a long time supporter of the labour and arts community.
Tom Wayman - has edited two groundbreaking anthologies of U.S. and Canadian poets writing about their employment, most recently Paperwork (Harbour, 1991). He has been active in both the radical and mainstream union movements; currently he teaches English and writing at the University of Calgary.
Experienced Poets: First Prize: $300, second prize $150. third prize $75
Beginning Poets: First Prize: $300, second prize $150, third prize $75. (prize amounts are a minimum)
Our Times, Canada’s independent labour magazine will be publishing a small selection of winning poems.
Closing Date: July 31, 2006. Winners announced in early September.
Entry Fee: Free, donations will be accepted. All donations will be given to the Movement for Canadian Literacy a national non-profit organization. Include a cheque or money order with your submissions, made out to the Movement for Canadian Literacy. Donations are tax deductible so include a return address.
Experienced Poets Contest Details :
Maximum of 3 poems, maximum 120 lines per poem. Send only original, unpublished material. The contest will be judged blind; do not put a name or other identifying marks on poems. Include a separate covering sheet that includes your identification and title of poems submitted. Entries will not be returned.
(Please note that we would like to focus on poems outside of the work involved in the writing process. Experienced poets are those with least 6 works published in literary magazines and/or have one of their collections published by a reputable publisher.)
Beginning Poets Contest Details:
Maximum of 3 poems, maximum 120 lines per poem. Send only original work Entries will not be returned.
Submissions can be sent regular post or emailed.Please indicate which contest you are entering.
P.O. Box 41171
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Help promote the contest!
We have prepared a printer friendly .pdf version of the call for submissions. Download it. print it out and post at your local library, workplace, union local, or any other place. We appreciate any help in getting the word out. Download it here.