Contemporary poets from Prince Edward Island

This section contains poems by a winner of the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, by winners of the Atlantic Poetry Award, and by authors who have published numerous volumes of poetry. It also contains poems submitted by new and unknown poets. Rather than separating these, we have chosen to set them together, side by side (see a full list of contributing poets on the right-hand side of this page, or further down the page if viewing on a small-screen device).

Poets and readers will inevitably have their own responses and make their own comparisons.

Ranjana Banerjee

Lady Night

The Darkness veils the scene
And spreads out its carpet, unseen
The Sun washes off its brushes
Into the pool of clouds that passes
Everything around halts their motion
Even the Wind hushes off its notion
And then she enters; She, the Lady Night-
Sashaying in style, with her Lilly Bright.

Marcia Gardiner

Monastery Flowers

Lush lover’s lips,
too good to live,
lose petals
serenely to air;
slow rain tickles
road-dusted panes.
Low bush, tall tree,
new green stars
each delicious shoot;
daffies sweep
a courtly bow.
monastery tulips
are quietly famous;
the monks bow too.



The red mud
is washed off the toes
of my rubbers,
by the puddles on the shelf.
It smells
of wet grass
masses of ice are attempting
to break
their tether
down below.

I hold your battered hat
on my head,
fighting the pull of the wind.

At my hip,
the Eagle Feather
on its own axis,
reaching toward rough
red cliffs,
then falling back

I look over the edge
to see the ocean
running into the sky
at the horizon.

This is the place where
the divine
the mundane,
producing one vast
earthly miracle.

Mike Dixon

Wedge Avenue Wars

Baby pine cones
army green
stony and sticky with
make effective
against invading kids
from three streets
who have already
suffered the
first strike
of our devastating
low-rental wit
and now wait behind
tipped picnic tables
or a neighbour’s car
for the inevitable hail
of endless ice-cream
buckets of dog berry

Gaylene Nicholson

My Two Dads

I had two dads,
Like one tree that shares two trunks,
Mine had one soul that shared two bodies.
My first dad left me one branch at a time,
While my second dad felled all at once.

My first dad was hardy and strong,
His body was his greatest tool,
Whether he was working in the fields,
Or holding a child in his arms,
His instrument never let him down.

My second dad grew fragile and weak,
His body was not his friend,
It hindered him when needed most,
No longer an ally in his battle for life,
So many betrayals for which to atone.

My first dad bubbled like a fresh water stream,
His lively face sparkled wherever he went,
Even in the face of chaos, he flowed calmly,
He drew others in with his frothy side,
Like running water, he never realized his own power.

My second dad was like a November day,
He grew grey and quiet with scraps of light here and there,
Like an early snowfall, he was soft and gentle,
Eroded by time and disease, his shiny demeanor worn down,
Our roles reversed as he became mine to protect.

I had two dads,
I loved both dads alike but in different ways,
Like the tree with two trunks,
My first dad offered safety and shelter,
While my second dad’s girdling roots took him away.

Mark Belfry

What is it Makes Me want to Read Your Poem?

What is it makes me want to read your poem?
I get them every day in my emails,
little flashes of diverse mind in rainbow colours
like sunlight flares off a choppy sea.
I like that.

I’ll tell you.
It’s not the flash, it’s the depth.

Which wouldn’t matter
(what makes me want to read your poem)
except you could substitute other words
and still be true—stitch in
any other subject and predicate
in this fed media world
and the message would be the same.

What is it makes me want to watch your movie?
read your book?
kiss your lips?
vote you President?

Let us not be buried in the shallow.
Poetry is the voice of places
we now too often only pretend to go.

Inge van Opbergen

as one

they’re young
like puppies

yet mature
and aware
of their path
just married
gently loving

their puppy-dog
in love with
the newborn
bending down

we see them leave
little dog dancing
on her leash
the three of them
kindred spirits

like once
on these rolling hills
and red-green plains
in these forests
Indians and horses
rode as one

flowing from one
into the other
on their island
in the ocean
Arctic wind melting
into Caribbean breeze

one breath
a union between
animal and men
sea and land
body and spirit
heaven and earth

© Inge van Opbergen
Prince Edward Island 16.06.14

Why do I, a lady from Amsterdam send in a poem?

Why? because I fell in love with the Island
visiting Dutch friends in lower Belfast.
In fact they’re Canadians now.

The velvet air took me by surprise in Halifax.
As did the gentleness of the people.

On the island this appeared to double.
Never thought of a place in your part of the world
as relaxing; a place where people have time
to tell stories about ancestors, about the effect
of a full moon on the snow. Time to talk about
everyday life as if it were grand.

To weave on winter nights. In fact, I realized,
this boils down to cherishing life and connecting …

Inge from Amsterdam

Kayla Morningstar

Euston Street

When I walk past your house, it talks to me. It looks older now, weathered. Like all the fighting we did took a toll on its structure. Sometimes I can see in your windows. I don’t want to, but always my eyes move of their own accord.

I guess you taught me the art of self destruction.

I wonder if there’s another girl whose found my bobby pins, who cleans up after you’ve had a hard day. I wonder if she is naive as I was.

Your house whispers, it coos with familiarity. I see the curtains I helped you choose, the pavement where I learned the truth . I somehow expect it to be stained from my tears.

After too many shots of cheap liquor I know I’ve been outside your building too long. somehow it’s like the blurrier my vision the clearer my thoughts. I hear laughter – look up. Does this girl love you as I tried to?

I shake off the urge to go upstairs.

This house holds nothing but broken promises and disappointment.

Wendy Jones

The Devil’s Gate

Arms upraised
she rises high
breathes deep of a life
above reproach.
For an effervescent, glistening,
radiant instant
is born again
free of sin.

Guilt far flung
returns too soon.
Censorious, soul numbing
Jacob Marley’s
chain dragging
flanking every move,

Waves in the quagmire
goading, prodding.
Impelling, compelling
weigh her down
until once more she dives
beneath redemption
beyond righteous realms
to the devil’s gate.

Margot Maddison-MacFadyen

Things to Do around Charlottetown

Call hel-lo, hel-lo to raucous birds at a crow ceilidh in Victoria Park.

Breathe sea air deeply.
Hold it.

water, lustrous, like the satin lining of abalone shell, shimmers
seagulls drift on soft puffs of air
a crimson boat races, its sails trimmed tight

Let it go.

Give two bucks to hungry youth hunkered down by the Post Office.
Give ten more.
Get lost on Richmond.
Get found on West.
Walk up and down Queen.
Look for the Bog and never find it.

Slip off shoes.
Eat moon cakes at Winnie’s Tai Chi Gardens.

a small Maitreya Buddha smiles
a potted philodendron climbs the wall, circling conversation
someone at the corner table sighs, her eyes miniature lotus flowers

Put shoes on.

Visit BIG art at the Confederation Art Gallery.
Purchase a first edition signed copy of Pride’s Fancy at the Bookman.
Take a ride on a trolley bus.
Skip classes at Holland College
or UPEI.
Pray at noon.
Sing Amazing Grace, quietly.
Look for a friendly tree to love.

Slide into seat.
Devour yabrak at Shaddy’s Mediterranean Cuisine in the arbor by the lane.

voluptuous grapes beckon
pendulous, they wink mischief, rustle leafy nests above
“Pluck us,” they whisper, purple, succulent, forever unabashed

Climb out of seat.

Read The Buzz
get hip.
Buy Island Sunshine free-range eggs and Wood Islands maple syrup
at the Farmers’ Market.
Imagine happy chickens, fine in feather
a verdant treetop canopy, in fine fettle.
Visit Mike in the Culloden Hills Artisans stall.
Admire golden-grained wooden bowls polished with a poet’s soul.

Stand at counter.
Gobble spiced potato samosas at Out of Africa with a taste of the world.

jostled by frenzied samosa lovers, pushed by feverish spice addicts
“Excuse me!” one says, elbows up, desperate for just one chillied bite
“Please do go first,” says another, exercising pay-it-forward caution

Step away from counter.

Read a poem at the Haviland Club Tuesday night.
Resist (or feast on) a Marilla’s truffle at Anne of Green Gables Chocolates.

Sit on Victoria Row bench with Sir John A.
Imagine the past in the future.

poke him in the eye for Louis Riel, for Gabriel Dumont
poke him in the other for Big Bear, for Poundmaker
poke him in both for Shubenacadie, for the others

Stomp a silent jig of protest.

Call hel-lo, hel-lo to raucous birds at a crow ceilidh in Victoria Park..

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