Annal: 2012 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2012.

Book:Monkey Ranch: Poems

Monkey Ranch: Poems

Julie Bruck

Comic and sober by turns, these poems ask us “what is sufficient, what will suffice?”

… a mandrill, a middle-aged woman, a shattered Baghdad neighbourhood, a long marriage, even a spoon, grapple with this unanswerable conundrum—sometimes with rage, or plain persistence, sometimes with the furious joy of a dog who gets to ride with his head through a truck’s passenger window. Julie Bruck’s third book of poetry is a brilliant and unusual blend of pathos and play, of deep seriousness and wildly veering humour. Though Bruck “does not stammer when it’s time to speak up,” and “will not blink when it’s time to stare directly at the uncomfortable,” as Cornelius Eady says in his blurb for the book, “in Monkey Ranch she celebrates more than she sighs, and she smartly avoids the shallow trap of mere indignation by infusing her lines with bright, nimble turns, the small, yet indelible detail. Bruck sees everything we do; she just seems to see it wiser. Her poems sing and roil with everything complicated and joyous we human monkeys are.”

Book:Any Bright Horse

Any Bright Horse

Lisa Pasold

When Marco Polo was captured by the Genoese he whiled away his year in prison by dictating a memoir, the Livre des Merveilles. Polo’s Book of Wonders became a raging best seller before printing presses even existed—Christopher Columbus travelled with his own carefully-annotated copy. Poet Lisa Pasold takes Polo’s stories about Afghanistan, Russia, and China to speculate on the transformative effect of journeys, especially upon those who insist on finding marvels.

Book:Li'l Bastard (David McGimpsey)

Li'l Bastard

David McGimpsey

“McGimpsey displays erudition, clever insights and a knack for the wickedly funny wisecrack.”—The Washington Post

Melding the deeply personal and the culturally popular, Li’l Bastard is confessional poetry as written by a chronic trickster and a committed liar. Written in part as an homage to John Berryman and Robert Lowell, this sequence of sixteen-line poems—“chubby sonnets”—explores the poet’s obsessions (food, aging, baseball, beer, and Barnaby Jones) and map his midlife crisis on a wild flight through Montreal, Chicago, Nashville, Texas, and Los Angeles. Poignant and often achingly funny, Li’l Bastard will cement David McGimpsey’s status as a beloved original.

Book:The New Measures: Poems

The New Measures: Poems

A.F. Moritz

The follow up to The Sentinel, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize, A.F. Moritz’s The New Measures is a bold collection of fiery, passionate, visionary, and fiercely singing new work. These poems make unique music, by turns tender and forceful, terrified and assured, grateful and enraged. They revel in pleasure, and the thirst for more pleasure. And they insist on the hope — perhaps paradoxical, perhaps impossible, yet never extinguished — for the perfection of a world both natural and human. The New Measures makes fear and grief into prophecy and joy at each turn of phrase. It is a brilliant new work from one of our greatest poets.

Book:Sailing to Babylon: Poems

Sailing to Babylon: Poems

James Pollock

Sailing to Babylon is the first full-length collection from James Pollock. These are poems of exploration and discovery of the self and the universal. Closer to home, there is the schoolboy fascination with the English teacher; the grandmother’s old Bible; a Dantean-style extended account of a hiking adventure with a young son, fully realized in terza rima. Further out in time and geography, Pollock muses on figures from Canadian history—explorers Henry Hudson, David Thompson, and John Franklin; pioneering literary theorist Northrop Frye; and pianist Glenn Gould. Each of these quests has accompanying trials or triumphs. This is a collection full of surprises and pleasures, with a treasure-chest mapped for discovery in “an image of the world/ made small enough to hold inside the mind.” A book that has the power to take you “to the place/ exactly where you always meant to go.”

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