Leon E. and Ann M. Pavlick Poetry Prize

In 2021, two prizes of $10,000 were awarded, to Andrea Thompson and Canthius. With an abundance of excellent applications, two runners-up prizes of $2,500 were also awarded, to Armand Garnet Ruffo and the Poets’ Corner Reading Series.

The Leon E. & Ann M. Pavlick Poetry Prize commemorates Pavlick’s Passages – a biography of Leon & Ann’s love story written in a unique poetic form – and the life and work of Leon E. Pavlick, who was a celebrated Canadian poet and member of the League. This award is made possible by a generous donation from Larry H. Mueller and Ann Pavlick in Leon’s memory. The League of Canadian Poets extends our exuberant thanks to Larry H. Mueller and Ann M. Pavlick whose contribution made this wonderful award possible. Through the Leon E. & Ann M. Pavlick Poetry Prize, we had the chance to provide a Canadian poet and a Canadian poetry group with funds to encourage their growth, furthering our organization’s goal of nurturing a professional poetic community in Canada. We are honoured to have had this chance, with thanks to Larry and Ann.

This prize is being awarded to Andrea Thompson because an investment in Andrea Thompson is an investment in the future of Canadian poetry. Thompson’s work will continue to change hearts and minds, and giving her the opportunity to focus on her own work will allow us all to reap the benefits when the work makes it out into the world. We are excited to see what Andrea Thompson will bring us next.

From the jurors: “It’s about time spoken word artists begin to receive the recognition they deserve. Thompson’s work is powerful and critical. I look forward to not only her new work but the inspirational ripples it will cause throughout the community.”

Read Andrea’s statement on winning the Pavlick Prize

Andrea Thompson is an artist. Her spoken word albums and performances have been critically acclaimed, and her work in Canada’s spoken word community has been foundational and trail-blazing. Throughout her career, she has dedicated herself to nurturing and supporting youth and emerging artists of all ages, sometimes putting her own work on a back burner to do so. With a passion for using poetry and performance as a tool for empowerment, Thompson has helped hundreds of vulnerable and disenfranchised students to develop their craft and literacy skills while increasing their emotional well-being and self-esteem. Throughout the 90s, she worked to help Canadian spoken word gain national and international recognition through radio, documentary, performance, and more. Learn more about Andrea at andreathompson.ca

This prize has been presented to Canthius to allow them not just to continue the great work they are already doing, but to encourage and enable them to push boundaries, working towards moving beyond the language of diversity and representation toward a truly equitable, joyful, and welcoming literary space. We look forward to seeing how this investment will enrich Canada’s poetry landscape.

From the jurors: “Only to explain difference must no longer be the requirement of our artistic labours. What is needed are avenues that can allow for exposure and examination with fullness, that gesture towards both criticality and care. Canthius is able to be one such avenue.

Read Canthius’ statement on winning the Pavlick Prize

Canthius celebrates poetry and prose by women, trans men, nonbinary, Two-Spirit, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming writers. The magazine is published bi-annually, and over 8 issues, has displayed its committed to publishing diverse perspectives and experiences. Since its very first issue, Canthius has also committed to paying its contributors, before any funding had been secured. Their hard work and dedication to representation, diversity, and quality has seen them grow into a municipally- and provincially-funded literary magazine that highlights art, fiction, poetry, and non-fiction by some of Canada’s most historically oppressed communities. Their commitment to producing a beautiful print edition of the journal rewards readers and contributors alike. Learn more about Canthius at canthius.com

Runners up:

  • Individual: Armand Garnet Ruffo
  • Group: Poets’ Corner Reading Series

Honorable mentions:

  • Joelle Barron
  • Cicely Belle Blain
  • Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer
  • George Elliott Clarke
  • Michael Fraser
  • Canisia Lubrin
  • David Ly
  • Tanis McDonald
  • Faith Paré
  • Melanie Power
  • Cristalle Smith
  • jaye simpson
  • Phoebe Wang

The jurors for this award were Chelene Knight, Joseph Dandurand, and Zarmina Rafi.

Chelene Knight is the author of Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award, and long-listed for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making RoomLove Me TrueSustenanceThe Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter, winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Award. The Toronto Star called Knight, “one of the storytellers we need most right now.” Knight was the previous managing editor at Room magazine, and the previous festival director for the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver. She founded her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative, and she works as an associate literary agent with Transatlantic Agency. Chelene often gives talks about home, belonging and belief, inclusivity, and community building through authentic storytelling

Joseph A. Dandurand is a member of Kwantlen First Nation located on the Fraser River about 20 minutes east of Vancouver. Joseph is the Director of the Kwantlen Cultural Center. Joseph received a Diploma in Performing Arts from Algonquin College and studied Theatre and Direction at the University of Ottawa. He has just completed his residency as the Storyteller in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library. He sits on a committee for the Canadian Museum of History and is tasked with consulting on the redesign of the new Children’s Museum. He has published 13 books of poetry and the latest are: I WANT by Leaf Press (2015) and HEAR AND FORETELL by BookLand Press (2015) The Rumour (2018) by BookLand Press in (2018) SH:LAM (the doctor) Mawenzi Press (2019) The Corrupted by Guernica Press (2020) his children’s play: Th’owixiya: the hungry Feast dish by Playwrights Press Canada (2019) his book of short stories and short plays for children: The Sasquatch, the fire, and the cedar basket will be published by Nightwood Press along with his poetry manuscript: Here we come (2020-21) He also is very busy Storytelling at many events and Schools.

Zarmina Rafi is a Pakistani-Canadian writer, editor and curator. Following a ten year career in the visual arts, Rafi is currently a freelance editor with ECW Press. Her writing has appeared in VallumArcThe Antigonish Review and filling Station. Rafi was a key member of the curatorial team of the first (2018) and second (2020) Lahore Biennales in Pakistan working alongside leading artists including John Akomfrah, Barbara Walker, Almagul Menlibayeva, Amar Kanwar and Shirin Neshat to name a few. Rafi has previously worked at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin, School of Visual Arts BNU Lahore and at the Toronto Star. She is a grant recipient from the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, KONE Foundation Finland, the Federal Chancellery of Austria, Sharjah Art Foundation and Tate Modern.