Harold Rhenisch’s poem Saying the Names Shanty is on the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist, with the winner being announced Wednesday, Nov. 22. (Photo submitted)

Vernon poet makes poetry prize shortlist

He’s been involved with the craft since the ’70s, gaining recognition along the way

He’s been involved with the craft since the ’70s, gaining recognition along the way.

Vernon poet, editor and fruit tree pruner Harold Rhenisch is on the shortlist for the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize for his poem, Saying the Names Shanty.

“The poem was written with a few things in mind,” Rhenisch said. “It came to me, the best way to honour these places was to say their names, the original indigenous names of the area.”

Drawing inspiration from influential Canadian poets Al Purdy and Patrick Lane, Saying the Names Shanty is an imaged journey following Purdy, Stan Rogers, Franklin and Rhenisch in a journey across Canada, honouring the poets who prove influential for Rhenisch and his love of the land.

And it’s a story Rhenisch is honoured to have running alongside works by other shortlisters Cornelia Hoogland of Hornby Island for Tourists Stroll a Victoria Waterway, Laboni Islam of Toronto for Lunar Landing, Sarah Kabamba of Ottawa for Carry and Alessandra Naccarato of Salt Spring Island for Postcards for my Sister.

Rhenisch, who won second in the contest in 2007 for a poem about going to a Father’s Day powwow near Sugar Lake and made it to the longlist two years ago, went up to bat with Saying the Names Shanty against about 2,400 other submissions.

The winner will be announced Wednesday, Nov. 22 and will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the arts, a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, as well as having their story published on CBC Books and in Air Canada enRoute magazine. The remaining finalists each receive $1,000.

“It’s always good to be on the shortlist. Just to have someone who likes one’s poem, it’s pretty great,” Rhenisch said. “To have my poem chosen, it’s kind of humbling. It’s an honour.”

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