Gerry Eggert had never written a poem in his life. He’s not even a writer.
But earlier this month, the first poem he ever wrote won a provincial poetry contest.
Eggert is the grand prize winner of this year’s annual Ode to a Farmer poetry contest put on by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets.
“It flabbergasted me,” says Eggert. “I never wrote anything in my life before. I thought, at best, it would get an honourable mention.”
It all came about one night after his wife went to bed. Eggert sat down with a diet Pepsi, picked up The Progress, and read about the contest.
“The words just came. I got a pen and paper, jotted it down, and went to bed,” he says. “I did it in about 20 minutes, and in the morning I changed a few words.”
His poem, The Farm Wife, is about “loyalty and dedication and sticking by your man through thick and thin. Some of those farm men, and men in general, can be difficult to deal with.”
Eggert should know. He’s been married for 52 years.
“It’s an ode to all wives, as corny as that sounds. My wife cried when she read it. It was a good cry.”
So he mailed it in and forgot about it.
“When I got the call and she said I won, I said ‘I won what?’ And she said ‘everything.’”
It came as a shock to Eggert who, along with not being a writer, isn’t even a farmer.
However, he’s always appreciated farming.
He grew up in the farming community of Ottawa Valley, his grandparents were farmers, and he’s visited a number of farms in Saskatchewan through people he met while in the navy. He then moved to Chilliwack, surrounded by farms.
“You can’t live in Chilliwack without appreciating the large Dutch families and European farms. They have good ethics,” he says.
Eggert didn’t hate poetry in high school (hate is such a strong word, he says), but he definitely disliked it.
It’s a good thing that passed, if only for one night, because his well-worded poem won him a $150 gift certificate to the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market.