CBC's online books portal is launching a new version of Canada Reads devoted to collections of poetry.

Five panelists  all poets  will defend their selections online and in essays published in the National Post newspaper over the next three weeks.

The debate will end with a live online chat. Then the public will choose a winner in a vote to end April 26.

The books chosen included works by acclaimed writers such as the late Alden Nowlan, a Fredericton poet and past winner of the Governor General's Literary Award, and Toronto's Dionne Brand, who was nominated earlier this week for the Griffin and Pat Lowther poetry prizes.

The full list of competitors, with their defenders:

  • Forage by Rita Wong, defended by Sonnet L'Abbé.
  • Nox by Anne Carson, defended by Anne Simpson.
  • Inventory by Dionne Brand, defended by George Murray.
  • Selected Poems by Alden Nowlan, defended by Susan Musgrave.
  • Sheep's Vigil by a Fervent Person by Erin Mouré, defended by Jacob McArthur Mooney.

Sheep's Vigil is a translation, from the original Portuguese, of O Guardador de Rebanhos by 1920s and '30s poet Fernando Pessoa, who wrote under the name Alberto Caeiro.

Carson draws on the Roman poet Catullus in her unusual, hand-bound book Nox, which is reflection on the loss of her brother.

Canada Reads Poetry can be followed online at CBC Books.