Annal: 2013 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2013.

Book:North End Love Songs

North End Love Songs

Katherena Vermette

A self-described “tuff grrl with two ffs” there is no doubt that after poet Katherena Vermette’s first collection of poetry, North End Love Songs, she will also be known as one “tuff” poet. Chronicling several short lived affairs that follow the break-up of a long term relationship, North End Love Songs recounts a quest for love in all wrong places. In it poet Katherena Vermette pulls out all the stops with gritty stripped down lyrics about the kind of love doesn’t always talk nice, sometimes drinks way too much, smokes when it shouldn’t and winds up in bed with people it barely knows or trusts.

But North End Love Songs is more than just a poetic road trip to the wrong side of love. Described by critics as having “a complicated sense of beauty,” there is undeniable eloquence at work in Katherena Vermette’s poetry. These poems go way deeper than the usual explorations of loss and self discovery, grappling with the destructive social and cultural constructs…[more]

Book:Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain: Poems

Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain: Poems

Russell Thornton

The crows pick at the waste on the asphalt.
The men push jingling shopping carts. Or stand and mimic life
in a prison yard. The wild white swan is dead. Where I caught
trout as a child, no trout swim now. The drives
and crescents gouge ravines, make creeks disappear. Where wild
baby fish run, they run the gauntlet of penned fish. They are eaten alive…
— from “Nest of the Swan’s Bones”

Russell Thornton’s latest collection of poems, Birds, Metals, Stones and Rain, explores powerful, primary human…[more]

Book:Bite Down Little Whisper

Bite Down Little Whisper

Don Domanski

From a master poet, meditative lines running like veins through the dark grace of being alive.

Award–winning poet Don Domanski’s new collection, Bite Down Little Whisper, delves into the interconnectedness of all life with spiritual gravitas and powerful mindfulness. These are poems brimming with mythological and scientific energies, with a multi-dimensionality that opens itself to both complexity and clarity. Domanski shows us seams and fastenings that unite our longings with the earth itself, with the nonhuman vitality that surrounds us. The heart’s need for unity and reverence is present in these poems as a whisper we hear in occasional moments of quietude, when it’s possible to perceive the workings of a larger existence.

Quietude is called returning to life Lao Tze says…[more]
Book:The Polymers (Adam Dickinson)

The Polymers

Adam Dickinson

The Polymers is a bold and brilliant new work from one of our most ambitious poetic minds. Structured as an imaginary science project, the varied pieces in this collection investigate the intersection of poetry and chemicals, specifically plastics, attempting to understand their essential role in culture. Through various procedures, constraints, and formal mutations, the poems express the repeating structures fundamental to plastic molecules as they appear in cultural and linguistic behaviours such as arguments, anxieties, and trends. Adam Dickinson’s poems challenge our understanding of the world around us while simultaneously demonstrating the plasticity at work in the very words we use to describe this world.

A wildly experimental and chemically reactive work, The Polymers thrills and provokes. You’ll never look at the world of a poem — or the world itself — in the same way again.

Book:Where the Sun Shines Best

Where the Sun Shines Best

Austin Clarke

Three Canadian soldiers awaiting deployment to the war in Afghanistan beat a homeless man to death on the steps of their armoury after a night of heavy drinking. The poet, whose downtown Toronto home overlooks the armoury and surrounding park, describes the crime, its perpetrators, the victim, and a cast of homeless witnesses that includes the woman, a prostitute, who first alerts police. The subsequent trial evokes reflection on the immigrant experience the poet shares with one of the accused, and on the agony of that young soldier’s mother.

From Kandahar to Bridgetown to Mississauga, Ontario, Where the Sun Shines Best encompasses a tragedy of epic scope, a lyrical meditation on poverty, racism and war, and a powerful indictment of the ravages of imperialism.

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