National Poetry Month is about celebrating poetry.
The League of Canadian poets proudly celebrates the Pat Lowther Memorial Award Longlist. Congratulations to all the incredible poets on this list.
The Pat Lowther Memorial Award is 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. This award honours woman-identifying poets who have released a book in the past year.
Adèle Barclay – Renaissance Normcore (Nightwood Editions)
Renaissance Normcore beautifully demonstrates the lyrical nature of Barclay’s talent, and not just because this collection is rife with musical references. Compulsively readable, Adèle Barclay’s tender, personal and wide–ranging collection takes the reader through a meditation on life, joy, power and intimacy.
Roxanna Bennett – Unmeaningable (Gordon Hill Press)
“What meaning can be made of a life lived in pain and isolation?” Unmeaningable is a sharp, incisive and truly personal answer to this question and many others. With poems that are truly evocative, Bennett has produced an eye-opening collection that confronts the reader with the many assumptions of an ableist society. Unmeaningable is bold, surprising and notable and truly showcases Bennett’s impressive talent.
Catherine Black – Bewilderness (Guernica Editions)
Bewilderness is a wild, twisting exploration of the wild elements found in urban and suburban settings. Catherine Black takes us through the familiar settings of playgrounds, subdivisions, backyards and makes them fresh, living and wild with her words. With beautiful, insightful and direct language, Bewilderness provides a lens to view the world anew and leaves the reader with a feeling of seeing and being seen.
Chantal Gibson – How She Read (Caitlin Press)
In How She Read, Chantal Gibson has created a work that reflective, meditative, and incisively sharp in its observation and beauty. This collection subverts genre and boldly uses changing poetic styling and the result is both stunning and illuminating. This collection showcases the full breadth of Gibson’s poetic talents. How She Read has been shortlisted for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize Canadian List.
Maureen Hynes – Sotto Voce (Brick Books)
Sotto Voce is a meditation on the worlds and lives that exist under threat. This passionate and insightful collection moves the reader through a sense of grief and morning for a natural world in peril and lacking in mercy. This collection explores tragic themes, though Hynes is unafraid to tackle issues with stark honesty, these poems leave the reader feeling refreshed and almost hopeful, returning to read and reread passages.
Doyali Islam – heft (McClelland & Stewart)
Tender and bold, questioning and insightful, heft is a collection that brings together the personal and the universal in a powerful collection where each poem is packed with insight, tenderness and a truly impressive sense of the physical world. Doyali Islam is brave and exploratory in her form, changing style fluidly and deftly to best communicate meaning. Heft has been shortlisted for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize Canadian List.
Sonnet L’Abbé – Sonnet’s Shakespeare (McClelland & Stewart)
Sonnet’s Shakespeare is a truly inventive work of poetry in which Sonnet L’Abbé painstakingly redefines and reinvents the structure of the sonnet and calls into question the colonial concepts inherent in the English language. Sonnet’s Shakespeare is masterful in its creativity – a truly brave, dismantling and disarming work. Sonnet L’Abbé artfully uses and reinvents the well-known sonnet structure to create a collection that is wholly unique and beautiful to read.
Alessandra Naccarato – Re-Origin of Species (Book*hug Press)
Re-Origin of Species is a mature, thoughtful and timely connection that brings together Alessandra Naccarato’s personal ancestry with themes that are universal. This seamless debut collection explores the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things and prompts the reader to examine their own relationship with the natural world.
Michelle Porter – Inquiries (Breakwater Books)
Inquiries is a fitting title for a collection that so bravely questions and explores experiences that are both personal and universal. The poetry in this collection is powerful, with each word carefully and precisely placed to create meaning and demonstrate a truly unique perspective. Readers will find themselves lingering over passages as they ruminate and question alongside Michelle Porter.
Anne Simpson – Strange Attractor (McClelland & Stewart)
How do we navigate the multiple roles we play in this life? In this powerful and truly thought-provoking collection, Anne Simpson takes the reader on a journey of exploration. The poems in Strange Attractor take us on a ranging journey from childhood experiences to times of being ill and even the role of death. Anne Simpson explores the big questions and shifting roles of our lives in poetry that is revelatory and beautiful.
Karen Solie – The Caiplie Caves (House of Anansi Press)
The Caiplie Caves is a timely and truly relatable collection. Based on the life and philosophical questionings of Irish missionary Ethernan, this collection explores how human beings contemplate and respond to times of change and crisis. Karen Solie explores the range of human emotion and experience when living in doubt and uncertainty in this beautiful and sharply written collection of poems that range through time and experience.
This Is How We Disappear explores the many way that women are forced to disappear – emotionally, physically, and even in death. Tackling tough truths with beautiful word choice, this collection is a celebration of the legacy and power of women and the truly creative and heroic acts they undertake to survive and thrive. With distinctive lyrical poetry, Sonuga’s voice can clearly be heard in these beautiful, insightful, and shockingly honest portraits of the life of women.
Souvankham Thammavongsa – Cluster (McClelland & Stewart)
Both minimalist and immensely striking, Cluster is a collection dedicated to understanding and meaning. Each word in this collection is perfectly chosen to succinctly and arrestingly call into question what meaning is, and why it matters. Thammavongsa explores how the evolving process of understanding and attributing meaning push us to shape and reshape our lives.