Community Papers

Kootenay poet Tom Wayman wins Acorn-Plantos Award

Tom Wayman - Jude Dillon photo
Tom Wayman
— image credit: Jude Dillon photo

A collection of poems which considers the effects of Canada's military involvement in the Afghan War on the daily lives of ordinary Canadians has been awarded the 2013 Acorn-Plantos Award.

The prize, which was just announced, went to West Kootenay author Tom Wayman's Dirty Snow, published by Harbour Publishing. The annual award goes to a book of poems in the accessible tradition of such major Canadian poets as Al Purdy, Dorothy Livesay and Milton Acorn.

"Wayman has always been a political poet," the Pacific Rim Review of Books said about Dirty Snow, "from his earliest days striving to reintegrate the presence of working people in poetry. Now he has set the national record straight, creating a poetic testament that will serve to refute the glossy official version of events."

"Dirty Snow is a reminder of where poetry should be: at the forefront of political thought, drawing the connections that help us to deeply consider our relationship to the actions of our country and the world around us," said Vancouver Weekly's review of the volume.

"Tracing the lines between life at home and war abroad, the collection explores the murders committed and deaths suffered by Canadian troops during the military involvement in Afghanistan. Primarily though, it's concerned with the connections we'd rather not draw — the ways Canadian war affects us personally, and, perhaps most unsettling, the ways that it doesn't."

Wayman said he was pleased that the Acorn-Plantos Award committee felt his book follows in the footsteps of Purdy, Livesay and Acorn, whose writing he said he admires.

"At a time when our politicians at every level are devoid of any sense of shame, and when the traditional upholders of a moral sense such as the union movement or the churches stand silent, public poetry is more important than ever.

"To write public poetry well is thus a vital responsibility," Wayman said. "I'm happy that the Acorn-Plantos Award committee feels Dirty Snow fulfils that responsibility."

The award carries a $500 prize, and a medallion based on one given to Acorn in 1970 when he was designated by his peers the "People's Poet."

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