“How We Live On,” a poem written by Canadian poet, Heidi Sander, has won the International Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry. The poem is part of her collection, The Forest Of My Mind, which Sander completed in 2020. In this time when many people are feeling loss and the need for connection, her words are a touching salve of healing.
Opening with “The wind empties its pockets of seeds while I fill mine with apples,” is a sweet memory for Sander but it also invites readers to understand that life has no beginning and has no end. Instead, it is tied to the wind and held within the seeds that are planted and the moments that grow from them.
“I am deeply touched by this piece. The language is fluid, impactful, and spare and the attention to sensory detail is divine. The voice is genuine and absolutely breaks my heart, “ says Stacy R. Nigliazzo, prize judge and award-winning poet. “I found myself haunted by it, returning again and again to the sanctuary of that sacred kitchen.”
Canada has long been known as a land of compassionate people and the world needs more of that right now. Poets from nineteen countries submitted poems to the competition. The prize includes publication in Issue 199 of Prime Number Magazine in October 2021, USD $1,000 and a Pushcart Prize nomination. “The competition for the Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry is always strong,” Kevin Watson publisher and editor in chief of Press 53 and Prime Number Magazine said.
“How We Live On” is a moving and thought-provoking poem that explores the strength of connection through generations: the persistent hope carried during war and immigration, the traditions that bind pain and beauty, and love that overrides everything. The poem is written in numbered sections, with each stanza exploring a particular moment or ideas as part of a larger poetic narrative spanning decades. This multi talented poet bursts onto the scene with her own piano score to accompany the audio reading of the poem. “I’m honoured that my poetry has received this kind of attention,” Sander said. “This poem has deep meaning for me, with its particular references to my mom, who passed on a few years ago.”
What’s next for the poet? Sander feels strongly about the power of words and she’s currently working on another collection and is developing an online program to help other poets. “I’m continuously writing. I live and breathe words,” says Sander. “Since winning this prize, other opportunities have opened up for me and I’m excited to explore them and work with other artists and art forms. The arts help us heal, and at its core, everything starts and revolves around a story. That’s the magic of words.”