Roots music poetry: winners announced!

After some debate (much of which seemed to focus on the semantics of our theme, Canadian roots music) and arduous blind judging, we here at Roots Music Canada are very happy to announce the winners of our Leonard Cohen poetry contest.

We had over thirty submissions to this contest, and were so amazed with the talent to be found within our community. The image you see above is a word cloud made from all of the poems submitted — a pretty good portrait of Canadian roots music, wouldn’t you say? Many, many thanks to everyone who contributed.

The winners and their poems are listed below, in alphabetical order, according to the poet’s last name.

I Am Not Your Man

Leonard Cohen interviewed by Jian Gomeshi

Before I was old, you didn’t ask me
how I felt about dying.

Now, being both old and a poet,
I ought to know.

I answer with words you don’t use –
the alliterative “can’t command the consequences”;

I want the truth to sound like me.
We are all caught in this charade of slogans.

I can’t abide glory, but glory pays the bills.
Trophy, atrophy. Rest is how the rust gets in.

Beyond the horizon everything comes together
into nothing but survival. Hallelujah.

If you fall prey to pretty virgin words
you can lie, really lie.

The teller and the tale.
Shape-shifting. Myth making.

“Get anything interesting?” I ask.
The crew want lunch.
— David Haskins


a note from spring.
to sing in barks and harks
and hallowed luyahs.
roots from the land up over.
music to my soul.
music to my ears clears the fears,
and releases the pitch that listens as the tears flow freely
marking the path to my trebled soul.
let go, suck in and lift me more
song and chord and pluck and bow
the music of your soul i know…..
she hums…he smiles
they tap and laugh and barely look away
with eyes of their hoovering ears
Stef Laramie

True North Sound

From the hallowed pen of Len, that dime store prophet
To the clarion notes that ring from kd lang
I have tasted vintage wine from northern vineyards
Purer offerings than a choir ever sang

How I love to eat at Ian Tyson’s table
Feast on decadent delights from Sexsmith’s muse
And if I could turn back time to change one headline
Keeping Stan off of that plane is what I’d choose

I’ve heard Jackson Browne extol the gleaming virtue
Of Bruce Cockburn and his mystical guitar
All the diamonds in the world don’t shine as brightly
Look no further to find where the lions are

Up above the 49th we often quibble
Thinking we are small and that nobody knows
But Lynn Miles is spoken of in foreign places
And the talent from this nation blooms and grows

There’s a Lightfoot and an Arden and a Valdy
Fredheads and folkers all around
So let them play, let the everlasting echoes
Fill the mountains and the plains with true north sound
Hazel May Lebrun

Fiddle and Bow

The earth tipped just so,
the long season dips into darkness, hour upon hour.
Blow into coals left from this morning.
Ash burns slow.
Put on the kettle.
Pick up the bow with a well-worked hand.
Play the song that bleeds from work, to meal-sharing, to love-making
As the calico queen slices bread,
Her cheeks flushed with frostbite.

Sing the song fathers used to sing to mothers.

The calico queen will sing harmony.

Blow out the candle, crawl under the down.
The rest is done in whispers.
Fiddle and bow listen from the kitchen table.
— Alana Levandoski



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