Celebrating the Raymond Souster Award Longlist

National Poetry Month is about celebrating poetry.

The League of Canadian poets proudly celebrates the Raymond Souster Award Longlist. Congratulations to all the incredible poets on this list.

The Raymond Souster Award is 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.

Billy-Ray Belcourt – NDN Coping Mechanisms (House of Anansi Press)

With NDN Coping Mechanisms, Billy-Ray Belcourt forges a new kind of brilliance: an insistence, a haunting, an unignorable aliveness in its language, its purpose and its essence. The book takes back time, place, space, and language in an aching reclamation, and cutting demand. 





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. 





Lindsay Bird – Boom Time (Gaspereau Press)

Boom Time is an exploration of Lindsay Bird’s time working in isolated construction camps in Northern Alberta. This impressive collection details the unique social experiences of working in these camps, artfully bringing the inhabitants and setting to life. With wit, sensitivity, and a sharp eye, Bird opens a world of characters, and offers true depth of insight and understanding to readers. 





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 stylinand 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.





Brian Henderson – Unidentified Poetic Object (Brick Books)

In Unidentified Poetic Object, the prolific Brian Henderson has brought to life a poetic study of objects in the world. Each poem in this beautiful collection shimmers with life and insight, drawing and inspiring the reader to think and consider in new ways. These urgent, engaging poems range in topic, invoking a poetic journey that ranges from the everyday to the extraordinary.  





Sonnet L’Abbe – 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.





Cassidy McFadzean – Drolleries (McClelland & Stewart)

In Drolleries, readers will find themselves grounded firmly in a familiar everyday rhythm that defies itself—poems that lift gently out of the grocery store and into the stars, out of your home and into a prehistoric past, out of the bedroom and into the impossible. Drolleries, with sincere and unflinching language, challenges its reader to liminality, dares us to find the solid state of inbetweenness that defines us across time, space, and perception. 





Shane Neilson – New Brunswick (Biblioasis)

Shane Neilson’s New Brunswick is a re-imagining—it is a lesson, a history, and a rewriting. A deeply personal excavation of the poet’s home province, this sequence of long poems is brimming with carefully crafted, rhythmic storytelling, questioning, and recollection.





Armand Garnet Ruffo – Treaty # (Wolsak and Wynn Publishers)

Treaty # is an exercise in dismantling language: Ruffo incisively separates a history of what has been said compared to what has been done, underscoring the power language has to harm, fail, and erase entire communities, entire histories. With sharp, observational poems, Treaty # quietly shatters one perception of the past to reveal the shrapnel of truth within it, exploring new ways to bear witness. 





Anne Simpson – Strange Attractor (McClelland & Stewart)

Anne Simpson’s newest book is a powerful investigation of the self, of the many selves that we find, make, fall into, and have forced upon us throughout our lives. Poems step delicately into, out of, through the self, the reader (a youan I) to traverse familiar territory, unfamiliarly reassembled before us for closer examination. 





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. 




Douglas Walbourne-Gough – Crow Gulch (Goose Lane Editions)

Douglas Walbourne-Gough’s debut poetry collection is a resonant, atmospheric resurrection of an untold story. Walbourne-Gough writes that “this book is an attempt to resurrect dialogue and story to honour who and where I come from,” and the vivid, immersive language draws the reader into this intimate portrait generously, kindly, and relentlessly.