The Walrus Foundation is delighted to announce that Michael Prior has won both the $4,000 Walrus Poetry Prize and the $1,000 Readers’ Choice Award, which are generously supported by the Hal Jackman Foundation.

Ventriloquism for Dummies
By Michael Prior

Pine plosives, alveolar carpentry:
my life, lived like an elaborate glove.
Tilt my head, a pale seashell scribed by lathe,
and listen to the few unfurling thoughts,
the dry shake of dust. Semper idem, no?
I loved that girl with the Cheshire-cat grin
inked across the nape of her neck’s vellum.
My hinged digits once traced its glow as if
it were a sliver of moon. Nowadays,
she works nights on an alabaster lake.
My first thought was, he lied in every word,
and I wasn’t wrong. Charlie McCarthy
may be my homeboy, but that suede coffin
became my home. Evenings in the valley,
I dreamed a redwood forest. At its heart
was another jester with a cheap suit
and misplaced mandible. Drop me, toss me,
and I lie limp: a tidal tryst of bleached
branches, a good joke gone bad, or a line
soured by time. Got wood? It’s all I’ve got.
Try not to notice these synchronized lips,
that hoary cripple, with malicious eye.

Photograph of Michael Prior

“It means so much to have my poem selected by the judge and voters,” Prior says. “It’s an honour to be included in the pages of The Walrus.” Prior is an emerging poet, a Vancouver native, and a graduate student at the University of Toronto’s creative writing program.

“Ventriloquism for Dummies” will appear in the December issue of The Walrus magazine and can be read online at this address. Prior’s forthcoming book of poetry, depicting the legacy of his Japanese Canadian grandparents’ internment during the Second World War, will be published in 2016 by Véhicule Press’s Signal Editions.

The Hal Jackman Foundation’s generous support makes the Walrus Poetry Prize and Readers’ Choice Award possible. In the prize’s inaugural year, the foundation’s president, Victoria Jackman, expressed her belief that “Canadian poetry deserves the position of prominence it enjoys in the pages of The Walrus.” The Hal Jackman Foundation, she said, is proud to be part of an initiative that finds “new voices and admirers” for Canadian poetry.

The Walrus Poetry Prize 2014 Hal Jackman Foundation