Poetry Competition

Every year, in celebration of National Poetry Month, the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) Public Art Committee invites writers to submit original poems for the Poet’s Pause Poetry Competition.

The winning poems are displayed for one year at the Poet’s Pause sculptural sites in Alta Lake Park at the southwest lake shore alongside the giant chairs and alongside timber chimes.

Poet’s Pause Poetry Competition and Mayor’s Poetry Challenge Terms of Reference.

2014 Winning Poems

In 2014, the RMOW received 56 poems from 26 poets on the two themes (Togetherness and Listening). The winning poems were presented at the April 15, 2014 council meeting. 

This year, the winning poems were from Caroline Carter, for her poem Drew Drive, in the category of Togetherness and Sandra Cairns for her poem The Way of the Listeners, in the category of Listening.  

Drew Drive
By Caroline Carter

Along a seam of yellow paint
that lines this summer land of lakes,
new footprints and tires leave their mark,
and wildflowers sustain.

Sun-spun fluff of cottonwood
drifts lazily on the wind.
The air born from this garden was
the last my grandma took in.

I inhale and hold its sweetness
as I listen
in this wild, green lot
she created so we might be free

to architect with a bucket and spade,
our soft pink flesh on dark coarse sand,
to swing in the shape of a smile,
clutching to chains with ice cream hands.

Back flipping off like monkeys,
hanging upside down like bats,
getting pricked by thorn bushes,
at the unkempt edges of our Eden.

And she was kindness in rose prints,
tanned dry hands with glittery rings,
bearing bowls of blackberries, and sugar, and cream,
a Queen in joyful chaos.

Why do mosquitos always bite?
and weeds always multiply?
and why can’t the things we -love- come back…
like other constants of July?

At night I can hear the train by Nita Lake.
It has pierced through all my summers,
a song I will always know the words to
as the years let down my youth.

It’s the navy mountains and a glittering creek
that align my present with her past.
I come to this summer shadow box
to recall joy, and be together at last.

The Way of the Listeners
By Sandra Cairns 

The Way of the Shore Listeners
is to lean into the lake on hollow staffs,
sounding the spangled waters
between the stones of lake bottom stories
and the torn surface of old waves’ song
for the soft mudded step
of the Lakebed Listeners.

The Way of the Lakebed Listeners
is to stand submerged below the chiming sky,
tracking the pause of a paddle,
the splash of offerings to the sloshing waves,
the gunwale slap of a gold-finned diver
joining the Nightswimmers’ Way.

The Way of the Nightswimmers
is to stickhandle cedar nets and copper pails,
culling the echoes of lapsed time:

When the lake learned to be a lake, or was born into lakeness
in the minor key of ebbing floodwaters.
When traditional greetings morphed into tongues of all the world
as life and lives stepped ashore

And the winds they brought with them sounded the chimes of
Old Worlds passing.

2013 Winning Poems

In 2013, the RMOW received 20 poems on the two themes (Togetherness and Listening). The winning poems were presented at the April 26, 2013 council meeting. 

Pemberton resident Trish Belsham won for her poem “Let Birds Fly,” and Whistler resident Joan Baron won for her poem “Your Turn.” Joan Baron is the creator of the Poet’s Pause sculpture in Alta Lake Park, and this is the first time she has participated by submitting a poem. 


Your Turn
By Joan Baron

You came here first.

Water softly lapping shore, the island calling out ‘there’s more’.
Ducks quacking, bills snapping – here you stand.
      Strong. Silent. Waiting to be heard.

Who should be so bold to begin, amongst this world of calm.
Is there something else we should hear,
      As we inch closer to be near.

Hold me tight, hear my song, ringing out amidst all this throng.
Now closer to the notes held in our hearts,
     Let them dance.

Your turn. 

Let Birds Fly
By Trish Belsham  

Skirt hem scraping dips and folds into
The rough wooden floorboards
Open spacious barn, I circle palm
In hand to his velvet touch
Starlings swoop and scream high in the hole
To sky, where the roof peaks,
Making room for clouds to enter, curious.

I walk slowly now
Dragging my treasures behind me,
Small nuts, gathered broken branches
And beetle carcasses, remnants
Of a dead forest salad on loaded plate
Hard to Mother’s floor
Swiftly passing, like my lover.

He steps lightly tween my dancing slippers
Hand pressed firmly to my back
Timely footsteps push blistering
Courtly rhythms scratched out of tune
Twining the shuffle of older shoe music.

We meet and list to a new candour
Cheek on cheek
Jacket and skirt flying out to the shredded walls,
Where light seeks our broken bodies,
Winkled now
With fond memories
Printed on our fragile skins.
We snuggle warm in comfort
There for each other, sweet
Medicine for our coming demise.

Cradled in the lap of the big wood chair,
The dreamer awakes, birds fly
The mountains shake their wild hair
Breathing a love song
For the lake and the silent fresh air.

2012 Winning Poems

In 2012, the RMOW received 20 poems on the two themes (Togetherness and Listening). The winning poems were presented at the April 17, 2012 council meeting. 

Pemberton resident TJ Cheverie  won for his poem “Time” (Togetherness theme) and Whistler resident and former Poet’s Pause winner Mary MacDonald  won for her “Homage” (Listening theme).

RMOW Poetry Challenge, Homage by Mary McDonald

RMOW Poetry Challenge TJ Cheverie

Previous Winning Poems

View a compilation of previous winning poems.