The 2019 Raymond Souster Award goes to…
I left nothing inside on purpose by Stevie Howell (McClelland & Stewart)
From the publisher: Poems of stringent aesthetic demands and volcanic emotional release make up Stevie Howell’s wondrous I left nothing inside on purpose. These poems–bewildering in their linguistic beauty–verge on prayer in their intense plea to be truly seen by another, a sort of devotional sequence addressing the psychological construct of attachment. Can we change? Has anyone ever changed? Does it matter? Lives marred by injury and violence, both physical and psychic, emerge in the book as meditations on trust, endurance, faith, destruction, and love. Howell’s voice combines ferocious intimacy and moral rigour with precision and compassion. The Hawaiian surf, the neuropsychologist’s lab, the deliriums of social media, and the recovery room. From geology to theology, lyric pain to the contemplative mind of the quasi-saint, I left nothing inside on purpose is a deeply affecting, glittering analysis of who we are when we claim to be ourselves in the world.
From the jurors: 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.
Stevie Howell is a psychometrist & writer who lives in Victoria, BC. Stevie’s second collection of poetry, I left nothing inside on purpose, was released last spring by Penguin Random House Canada. Stevie is currently writing a thriller, & forever working on her afterlife.
To see the 2019 Book Awards shortlists, click here.
Thank you to our 2019 jury: Kathy Mac, Maurice Mierau, and Concetta Principe.