Poetry Month may be over for 2019, but there is still lots to celebrate in the world of verse. Today, the League of Canadian Poets has shared the winners of their annual poetry awards, including the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for Spoken Word, which this year switched from a lifetime achievement award to a prize based on portfolios submitted by spoken words artists from across the country.
The winners were announced on Saturday, June 8, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at an awards ceremony held during the League of Canadian Poets’ Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting.
Congratulations to the winners and their publishers, as well as all the nominated authors. For more information about the prizes and the League, please visit their website.
Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Given in the memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized authors’ tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers. The award recognizes a debut book of poetry published by a Canadian. The award carries a $2,000 prize and is sponsored by the LCP.
2019 Gerald Lampert Memorial Winner:
Obits. by Tess Liem (Coach House Books)
Jury's comments: “Tess Liem's Obits. is a rare success for any book, let alone a debut. Namely, it manages to create what feels like an entire intellectual world: whole ethics, aesthetics, aspirations, fears, and philosophies, line by line and trope by trope. The book takes real risks dangling over the edge of amateurism with its emotive openers and its centre-alignment, and relies on nothing but prosody and guts to win a skeptical reader back. It contains one of the most complete treatments of depression in Canadian poetry and an expansive, challenging, new approach to the idea of mourning. Most importantly, Liem's ability to manage the collection itself as a gestalt object, tying images to one another across pages and reusing titles, sounds, and lines, is downright symphonic. It feels like someone's life’s work.”
2019 Jury: Adebe DeRango-Adem, Amanda Earl, Jacob McArthur Mooney
Pat Lowther Memorial Award
Given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $2,000 prize and is sponsored by the LCP.
2019 Pat Lowther Memorial Award Winner:
Ekke by Klara du Plessis (Palimpsest Press)
Jury’s Comments: “An intelligent book constructed of long poems, Ekke reflects on the strange vagrancy of meaning and slippage of sounds between different languages. Both politically conscious and aesthetically beautiful, Ekke reads like a combination of the best parts of Lisa Robertson and M. Travis Lane: brainy and beautiful meditation with a beating lyric heart.”
2019 Jury: Robert Colman, Brenda Leifso, Shane Neilson
Raymond Souster Award
Given for a book of poetry by a League of Canadian Poets member. The award honours Raymond Souster, an early founder of the League of Canadian Poets. The award carries a $2,000 prize and is sponsored by the LCP.
2019 Raymond Souster Award Winner:
I left nothing inside on purpose by Stevie Howell (McClelland & Stewart)
Jury's Comments: “Stevie Howell’s poems create a dazzling sense of contemporary experience, with all its wounds, as well as the bruising quality of the past: an AI bot named Tay learns to be racist and sexist from “Talking w/ humans;” Kintsugi pottery and fragments from Kierkegaard, D.H. Lawrence, and the vocabulary of self-help rattle through the deceptive transparency of Howell’s lines. The voice here insists on ironic distance and uncomfortable intimacy, poetic history and the banality of the present, “crowdfunded innocence” and “how pain never knows when to stop.” This collection is sophisticated, funny, and sad, often within the same line.”
2019 Jury: Kathy Mac, Maurice Mierau, Concetta Principe
The Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for Spoken Word
As of 2019, awarded based on micro-portfolios submitted by spoken word poets all across Canada, for excellence and innovation in selected poems (previously a lifetime achievement award). $2,000 prize founded in 2007 in partnership with the Calgary Spoken Word Society.
2019 Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for Spoken Word Winner:
Jury’s Comments: “Andrea Thompson is a Canadian icon of Spoken word and her submissions reflect her long and praiseworthy career. The work is well-written and professionally produced with top notch recordings—as Andrea presents a strong-woman voice filled with spirit and fierce power, intelligence and musicality. Andrea Thompson explores and pushes boundaries—as artist practitioner, activist, educator and historian. The gifts she brings to Spoken Word on all levels is insurmountable, memorable and extremely valuable!”
2019 Jury: Sheri-D Wilson, Kevan Anthony Cameron, Dwayne Morgan