CBC Books, CBC’s online home for literary content, together with its partners the Canada Council for the Arts and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, recently announced the winner for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize.
The Grand Prize winner is Charlottetown-based writer Bren Simmers for her poem collection Spell World Backwards.
“My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. As I started writing about her deterioration, I became interested in how language is affected by the disease,” Bren says, about the inspiration behind Spell World Backwards. “In this series, I try to mimic some of the looping, nonsense words, and holes in her speech. As she progresses into late-stage Alzheimer’s, it has become increasingly difficult to communicate with her, outside of touch. She still loves to dance though!”
As the grand-prize winner, Simmers received $6000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and her poetry collection has been published on CBC Books. She will also receive a two-week writing residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
In sharing her poetry with CBC Books, Bren says, “I thought the experience of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s would resonate with many readers across the country. By sharing this journey with others, I hope to create space for a conversation about how to cope with ‘the long goodbye’ and the different ways to honour a person whose faculties are being eroded by this disease.”
Simmers’ is the author of four books, including the wilderness memoir Pivot Point (Gaspereau Press, 2019) and Hastings-Sunrise, (Nightwood Editions, 2015) which was a finalist for the 2015 City of Vancouver Book Award. Her most recent collection of poetry is If, When (Gaspereau Press, 2021). The collection links her living experience in Squamish, BC with those of her great grandparents, who lived in the near by town Britannia a century earlier.
Born in Vancouver and raised in North Delta, BC, Simmers has lived in Charlottetown, PEI for approximately five years.