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forage by Rita Wong wins Canada Reads Poetry

CBC Books and the National Post celebrated National Poetry month by co-hosting Canada Reads Poetry, an online initiative inspired by Canada Reads and its spin-offs, including the National Post's Canada Also Reads. Over three weeks, five panelists champion five books of poetry, with essays by the panelists published on the National Post's books blog, The Afterword, and the contending poets and collections profiled on CBC Books.

The contenders were:

Unlike Canada Reads, where the panelists eliminate the book, after the online debate (read the transcript here), the vote was turned over to the public. Over the long weekend, hundreds of votes came in. It was a close race, but the Canada Reads Poetry 2011 champion is forage by Rita Wong.

"When I chose forage as the poetry book Canada should read, I thought I was going out on a limb, recommending a young writer's book, so experimental in style and so vocal about its environmentalism. But since the Canada Reads Poetry contest began, people have written to tell me how much they love this book," L'Abbé said after hearing about her win. "This win confirms that Rita Wong speaks to our present moment, and that Canadians want to hear her voice!"


Sonnet L'Abbe defends Forage by Rita WongCongratulations to Rita and Sonnet. Below is an excerpt from the collection, "Fluorine," read by Mary Ito, host of CBC's Fresh Air.


Sonnet L'Abbé is the author of two collections of poetry, A Strange Relief and Killarnoe. Her work has been included in Best Canadian Poetry 2009 and 2010, and was shortlisted for the 2011 CBC Literary Award for poetry.

Rita Wong explores the intersection between international politics and environmental issues in Forage, offering readers the wide range of emotions that arise with such complex issues. Accompanied by Chinese characters in the margins of each poem, Wong's thoughtful work, which highlights the crises the contemporary world faces, is threaded with beauty, humour and heartbreak.

Get to know the Canada Reads Poetry champion better by reading Sonnet's defence of the work at The Afterword and the CBC Books interview with Rita Wong.

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