Contest Winner Profile: Ellie Sawatzky

In anticipation of the upcoming deadline for the Foster Poetry Prize, we’ll be sharing the profiles of past winners each week from now until the contest closes on November 1st. First up is 2017 winner Ellie Sawatzky! Read on to hear about her experience winning the contest and what she’s been up to since.

“Right after I found out I had won the Young Buck Poetry Prize, back in January of 2018, I went and treated myself to my first ever French manicure and had a very hard time sitting still. Poetry can be a lonely pursuit, but that was a sparkly moment of feeling seen and feeling connected.

My winning poem, “Crystals”, comes from a suite of poems I wrote about being a nanny, featured in my debut collection, None of This Belongs to Me. In nature, crystals form when the molecules in cooling liquid gather together in repeating patterns, attempting to become stable. This made me think about childhood development, what “sets in”, what begins to take shape. The poem compares and contrasts mother-daughter relationships and ponders the nature of child-caregiver attachments. What trickles down through the line, what do we give and take from each other? “Crystals” ends with the image of a little girl at a festival holding an abandoned rabbit kit, and a larger social question is asked about human impact on the earth.”

Ellie Sawatzky grew up in the woods of Kenora, Ontario. A 2019 Bronwen Wallace Award finalist, her work has been published widely in literary journals and anthologies such as GrainThe FiddleheadPRISM internationalBest Canadian PoetryThe Matador Review, The Puritan, and Room.

She was the recipient of CV2‘s 2017 Foster Poetry Prize (formerly known as the Young Buck Poetry Prize) for “Crystals”, a poem about the strange/lovely/terrible experience of working as a nanny. Her debut poetry collection, None of This Belongs to Me—which includes her prize-winning poem—is being released on October 31st, 2021 and is currently available for pre-order (Nightwood Editions)!

She works as an editor for FriesenPress, and she is the curator of the Instagram account IMPROMPTU (@impromptuprompts), a hub for writing prompts and literary inspiration. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, and lives in Vancouver with her partner and a cat named Camus.

Find Ellie at, or on Instagram as @elliesawatzky or @impromptuprompts. Find out more about her soon-to-be-released book here.