and the 2020 Pat Lowther Memorial Award goes to…
How She Read by Chantal Gibson (Caitlin Press)
From the jurors: Chantal Gibson’s How She Read creates its illuminating poetics through language, image, and a hieroglyphic that only slowly reveals its significance. From a song of praise to Black girls; to an homage to the poet’s grandfather, a member of the 1967 CPR Mixed Bowling Team; to the dark wit of women in a daguerreotype and an oil painting considering their place in art and science, Gibson shows us how we are taught racism, and opens a door to its unlearning. What she asks of the reader is to read closer; to decipher what has been hidden; to acknowledge what has been said and said all along. Calling to many Black women in Canadian literature – Dionne Brand, Afua Cooper, Lorena Gale and M. NourbeSe Philip, among others – Gibson’s work is both communal and wholly its own, How She Read is unforgiving and unapologetic, fierce and adoring.
From the publisher: How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of Black women, their hearts, minds and bodies, across the Canadian cultural imagination. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art, media and pop culture, Chantal Gibson’s sassy semiotics highlight the depth and duration of the imperialist ideas embedded in everyday things, from storybooks to coloured pencils, from paintings to postage stamps. Thoughtful, sassy, reflective and irreverent, How She Read leaves a Black mark on the landscape as it illustrates a writer’s journey from passive receiver of racist ideology to active cultural critic in the process of decolonizing her mind.
Thank you to the 2020 Pat Lowther Memorial Award Jurors: Annick MacAskill, Billeh Nickerson and Soraya Peerbaye
Read an exclusive interview discussing poetry, process and pandemic with Chantal Gibson
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 books by woman-identifying folks. The award carries a $2,000 prize and is announced annually in May.