Literary Prizes

24 books by past CBC Poetry Prize winners and finalists being published in 2023

Being a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize can jumpstart your literary career.

Being a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize can jump-start your literary career. Need proof? Here are 24 books being published in 2023 that were written by former CBC Literary Prizes winners and finalists.

The 2023 CBC Poetry Prize is currently accepting submissions. The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point and have their work published on CBC Books

Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

Women Wide Awake by Manahil & Nimra Bandukwala

Three images: a woman with dark hair and glasses, the book cover with sculptures of a person and a sofa and another woman with dark hair and a black sweater smiling for the camera
Women Wide Awake is a book of stories, poetry and visual art by Manahil Bandukwala, left, and Nimra Bandukwala. (Mawenzi House)

Women Wide Awake is a multi-genre book featuring a collection of stories, poetry, and visual art exploring folklore from the region of Sindh, Pakistan. The sculptures were created using reclaimed materials: sari fabric, wedding invitations on paper, flowers, shells, and animal bones.

Manahil Bandukwala is a Pakistani writer, artist and editor currently based in Mississauga. Her debut poetry collection, Monument, was published in 2022. In 2019, Bandukwala was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize for her poem To ride an art horse. She has also been a finalist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award in 2021.

Nimra Bandukwala is a visual artist and maker of crafts using foraged and found materials.

Burn Diary by Joshua Chris Bouchard

Black and white photo of a bearded man wearing glasses, a beanie, a black shirt and a dark jacket over it
Joshua Chris Bouchard is the author of Burn Diary. (Yuli Scheidt)

Burn Diary is Toronto poet Joshua Chris Bouchard's debut poetry collection. His writing is gritty, personal, brave and with a strangely beautiful from. 

When you can read it: Fall 2023 

Joshua Chris Bouchard is the author of Let This Be the End of Me, which was shortlisted for the 2019 bpNichol Chapbook Award. His poetry has appeared in Event, CV2, Carousel, Poetry is Dead, PRISM international, Arc and The Ex-Puritan. Bouchard was longlisted for the 2013 CBC Poetry Prize for Portraits.

Who Owns the Clouds by Mario Brassard

Who Owns the Clouds by Mario Brassard, illustrated by Gérard DuBois
Who Owns the Clouds is a book by Mario Brassard, pictured, and illustrated by Gérard DuBois. (Tundra Books, Peter Parker)

Who Owns the Clouds is a YA novel about a girl named Mila and the dreams she is having of a life left behind. In her dreams, Mila and her family are hoping to move on to better lives — but thoughts of a missing uncle and visions of clouds blur the lines between what's real and what's not. Mila must resolve past pain to move on in the present.

Mario Brassard is an artist and author of children's books from Quebec. Who Owns the Clouds is his first illustrated work. Brassard won the Prix de poésie Radio-Canada 2018 for his poem Séconal.

Gérard DuBois is an artist and illustrator based in Quebec.

The Ridge by Robert Bringhurst

The book cover features an abstract illustration in red and black.
The Ridge is a book by Robert Bringhurst. (Harbour Publishing)

The Ridge is a nonfiction poetry collection that uses metaphor and provocative imagery to reflect on the ecological history and future of the West Coast of Canada. 

Robert Bringhurst is a writer and former Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. His poetry collection The Beauty of the Weapons was shortlisted for a Governor General's Literary Award in 1982 and his nonfiction book A Story as Sharp as a Knife was shortlisted for a Governor General's Literary Award in 2000.

In 1985, he won the CBC Poetry Prize for his poem The Blue Roofs of Japan and later won the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in 2005. He is also a recipient of the Order of Canada and lives on Quadra Island, B.C.

Swans by Michelle Brown

The book cover features three dancers in leotards and bun hairstyles that are each striking a different pose. They look as though they are are in freefall because their image is placed in the air.
Swans is a book by Michelle Brown. (Anstruther Books, Grady Mitchell)

Swans is a narrative poetry collection following three best friends on a regular night out that quickly turns into a surrealist coming-of-age before dawn. Michelle Brown writes about tense female friendships, alcoholism, spontaneity and sexuality. 

Brown is a poet living on the west coast of Canada. Brown's first full-length collection of poetry, Safe Words, was shortlisted for the 2018 ReLit award. Brown was on the longlist for the 2015 CBC Poetry Prize for Invasive Species.

Places Like These by Lauren Carter

A book cover featuring a black in blot that doubles as a night sky. The book's author, a smiling woman with light brown hair and glasses.
Places Like These is a book by Lauren Carter. (Book*hug Press, Heather Ruth)

Places Like These is a short story collection that covers the globe — from Ecuador to San Francisco to small-town Ontario or northern Manitoba. From a teenager dealing with the emotional toll of the oncoming climate crisis to a widow searching for her late husband through a spiritual guide or a sexual assault survivor navigating her boundaries and the expectations of her boyfriend's family, each story paints a portrait of a character longing for connection and confronting their demons.

Lauren Carter is the author of four books of fiction, including This Has Nothing to Do with You, which won the 2020 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. She has also received the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. Her short story Rhubarb won the Prairie Fire Fiction Award. Her debut novel, Swarm, was longlisted for Canada Reads 2014.

Carter has made the CBC Poetry Prize longlist twice: in 2017 for Lie Down Within the Night and in 2013 for Migration (1851-1882). She was also longlisted for the 2015 CBC Short Story Prize for River's Edge. She was raised in Ontario and now lives just outside of Winnipeg.

Lent by Kate Cayley

Black and white photo of a woman with short hair and glasses and the book cover with a chair by a window with drapes
Kate Cayley is the author of the poetry collection Lent. (Book*Hug Press)

Lent is built from the tension, exploring domestic and artistic life amidst the environmental crisis and the surprising ways that every philosophical quandary — large and small — converges in the home, in small objects, conversations and moments. This poetry collection is a work of our era, asking us to contemplate what it means to live in a broken world —  and why we still find it beautiful.

Kate Cayley is a fiction writer, playwright and poet based in Toronto. She is also the author of the YA novel The Hangman in the Mirror, the poetry collections When This World Comes to an End and Other Houses and the short story collections How You Were Born and Householders.

Cayley made the longlist for the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize and the 2013 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Writers' Bedrooms.

Siteseeing by Ariel Gordon & Brenda Schmidt

Three photos: a woman with mid-length hair and glasses, the book cover with rows of golden origami paper cranes, a black and white photo of a woman with dark hair with bangs
Siteseeing is a book of correspondence between Ariel Gordon, left, and Brenda Schmidt. (At Bay Press)

Between February 2021 and March 2022, Ariel Gordon and Brenda Schmidt wrote Siteseeing, a collaborative poetry manuscript formatted like a call and response. They wrote birds and trees, mushrooms, pronghorns and also the people making their way through it all. 

When you can read it: Oct. 25, 2023 

Gordon is a writer and editor based in Winnipeg. She is the ringleader of Writes of Spring, a National Poetry Month project with the Winnipeg International Writers Festival that appears in the Winnipeg Free Press. Gordon is also the author of the nonfiction book Treed and was a co-editor on the anthology Gush.

Schmidt was the seventh poet laureate of Saskatchewan. She is the author of five books of poetry and a book of essays. Her work has been nominated for Saskatchewan Book Awards, received the Alfred G. Bailey Prize for Poetry, and is included in The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English: Tenth Anniversary Edition. Schmidt was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2010 for The Wire.

Optic Nerve by Matthew Hollett

The book cover is an illustration of a grey sidewalk marked by puddles of water. A dark green tree branch is reflected in the water.
Optic Nerve is a book by Matthew Hollett. (Brick Books, April White)

Matthew Hollett employs wordplay and a specific kind of playfulness in poems about photography, perception and ways of seeing in the poetry collection Optic Nerve. Hollett dissects the way we see the world, from perspectives such as the inside of an eyeball to the impact of a bomb crater.

Hollett is a writer and visual artist living in St. John's. He published his debut book, Album Rock, in 2018.

In 2020, Hollett won the CBC Poetry Prize for Tickling the Scar. Before that, he was on the CBC Poetry Prize longlist in 2016 for Merchant Vessel and Bomb Crater Behind Vimy Station and the longlist for the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize for Painting the Curlew.

The King of Terrors by Jim Johnstone

The book cover with a silver outline of a brain with a lime green background and the black and white author photo of a bearded man wearing a black tee
The King of Terrors is a poetry collection by Jim Johnstone. (Coach House Books)

The King of Terrors was written after a brain tumour diagnosis early in the pandemic, and is a meditation on living with illness and the forces required to heal. These forces are not always what we expect — they may not even be medical. Jim Johnstone's poems are bodily reflections that ask how we can reframe our past to make sense of the present. 

When you can read it: Sept. 26, 2023 

Johnstone is a Toronto-based poet, editor and critic. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, including The Chemical Life, which was shortlisted for the 2018 ReLit Award. Currently, he curates the Anstruther Books imprint at Palimpsest Press, where he published The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry

Johnstone won second prize in the 2008 CBC Literary Awards for poetry with a collection of poems titled Invertebrate Poems. He also made the longlist for the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize for Revenants.

Old Gods by Conor Kerr

The book cover features a black and white photo of bison on the prairies.
Old Gods is a book by Conor Kerr. (Nightwood Editions, Zachary Ayotte)

Old Gods is a poetry collection in motion. From coyotes that race through the night to buses that drive from region to region or people that search for lost loves on the Internet, Old Gods is a meditation on the travels humans and animals take over time. Conor Kerr places readers in the "Métis mindset," showing that wherever one is in the natural world, there is life in the rivers, the hills and the prairies we travel on. 

Kerr is a Métis and Ukrainian educator, writer and harvester. He is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and is descended from the Gladue, Ginther and Quinn families from the Lac Ste. Anne and Fort Des Prairies Métis communities and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His poem Prairie Ritual was on the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist.

Kerr won the 2022 Novel ReLit Award for his debut novel, Avenue of Championswhich was also longlisted for the 2022 Giller Prize and was a finalist for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Kerr was also a reader for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize.

Fire Monster by Anita Lahey & Pauline Conley

The illustration features a black demon-looking character carrying an old woman draped in a cloth. Flames surround them. In the background is a forest.
Fire Monster is a graphic novel by Anita Lahey, left, and Pauline Conley. (Colin Rowe, Palimpsest Press, submitted by Pauline Conley)

Fire Monster is a graphic novel about an oil sands worker who returns to his childhood town in Cape Breton, N.S., where a wildfire previously devastated the fishing village. Going back comes with its challenges because the entire community believes he was the one to start the fire. 

Anita Lahey is an Ottawa writer. Her books include Spinning Side Kick, Out to Dry in Cape Breton, The Mystery Shopping Cart and The Last Goldfish, which was a finalist for the Ottawa Book Award. Her latest poetry collection, While Supplies Last, is also being published in 2023. She has been the series editor of the Best Canadian Poetry anthologies since 2018. Lahey was on the CBC Poetry Prize longlists in 2009 for Men and in 2010 for The Foe.

Pauline Conley recently transitioned from painting to comics. Fire Monster is her first graphic novel.

Sigrene's Bargain With Odin by Zoë Landale

A smiling woman with white hair wearing a black jacket and colourful scarf and the book cover with a neon blue drawing of a three
Zoë Landale is the author of the epic Norse mythology-inspired poem Sigrene's Bargain with Odin. (Inanna Press)

This unique, epic poem explores little-known Norse mythology and pays special attention to form, sound, and imagery. Sigrene's Bargain with Odin contemplates the age-old quandary of where our loyalties lie and how to act with integrity to find peace in a troubled world.

When you can read it: Oct. 19, 2023 

Zoë Landale has published 10 books, edited two books and her work has appeared in more than 50 anthologies. She taught for 15 years as a faculty member in the creative writing department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver. Landale won the 2002 CBC Poetry Prize for Once a Murderer: Poems for Three Voices

Kink Bands by David Martin

The book cover with a drawing of the kinks in a rock formation and the author photo of a man with glasses and in a lilac velvet suit
David Martin mixes poetry with geology in the collection Kink Bands. (NeWest Press)

In Kink Bands, David Martin digs deep into an examination of the world using the lens of geology. With lyrically experimental poems expanding and retracting, Martin's poetic practice pushes forward to contend with the contemporary environmental changes.

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2023 

David Martin works as a literacy instructor in Calgary and as an organizer for the Single Onion Poetry Series. In 2014, he won the CBC Poetry Prize for his poem Tar Swan. In 2018, Tar Swan became a published book-length narrative poem.

Frank's Wing by Jacob McArthur Mooney

Side by side of the book cover and the author photo: the cover has geometrical shapes in teal, beige and yellow and a man with a thick auburn beard and black-rimmed glasses and wearing a black leather jacket
Frank's Wing is a collection of poems by Jacob McArthur Mooney. (ECW Press, Elyse Friedman)

Written as a sequence of "ghost ekphrastics" (poems inspired by works of art that neither the poet nor most living people have ever seen), Frank's Wing constructs a whole world of lost or destroyed artifacts that have been rearticulated and resurrected, brought back to life by a fictional property baron as a dying gift to Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario.

Jacob McArthur Mooney's previous collections have been shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award in Poetry and the Dylan Thomas Prize. Originally from Nova Scotia, he now lives in Toronto. Frank's Wing is his fourth book. He was on the longlist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2014 for a poetry collection titled Bindled Back: Three Travel Poems.

Anecdotes by Kathryn Mockler

The book cover with a drawing of a menstruation pad taped to a yellow background and the author photo of a woman with long hair and pink lipstick
Kathryn Mockler is the author of the collection Anecdotes. (Book*Hug Press)

Anecdotes is a hybrid collection in four parts examining the pressing realities of sexual violence, abuse and environmental collapse. These varied, immersive works bristle with truth in the face of unprecedented change. They are playful forms for serious times.

When you can read it: Sept. 19, 2023 

Kathryn Mockler is the author of five books of poetry. She co-edited the print anthology Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis and is the publisher of the Watch Your Head website. She runs Send My Love to Anyone, a literary newsletter, and is an assistant professor at the University of Victoria where she teaches screenwriting and fiction. Mockler was longlisted for the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize for a collection of poems titled Ice Fishing, Neighbours, Stones, Looking for Crayfish as well as in 2009 for Onion Man.

How to Be Alone by Heather Nolan

The book cover with some blurry shadow figures and the author photo of a woman with platinum blonde hair wearing a black coat and a beanie
Heather Nolan is the author of the short story collection How to Be Alone. (Goose Lane Editions, Graham Cox)

How to Be Alone is a duet of poetic novellas documenting the double-edged sword of self-acceptance. Nolan depicts the euphoric highs of a queer awakening and the crushing lows of feeling othered in a world that isn't built for you. The poems explore themes such as isolation, trauma and loss.

When you can read it: Sept. 19, 2023 

Heather Nolan is a writer from St. John's. They are the author of Land of the Rock and This is Agatha Falling, which was shortlisted for the ReLit Award and longlisted for the BMO Winterset Award. Nolan was on the longlist of the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize for Home and Native Land. Nolan was also a reader for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize.

A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen by Erin Noteboom

The beige book cover features a close-up image of the tip of an old knife. The knife tip is illustrated with grooves and lines.
A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen is a book by Erin Noteboom. (Brick Books, Wayfinder Bow)

Erin Noteboom uses the lyric form to write about illness, grief and loss in A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen. The former-physicist-turned-writer tests hypotheses about sadness, science and love to ask important existential questions. 

Noteboom is a former physicist who currently writes poetry and young adult novels. Originally from Nebraska, Noteboom came to Canada in 1997. Her poetry collections include ​Seal Up the Thunder.

Noteboom won the CBC Poetry Prize in 2001 for her poem Poems for Carl Hruska and made the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for her poem How to write at the end of the world.

Noteboom publishes YA fiction under the name Erin Bow. Her novels include Plain KateThe Scorpion RulesThe Swan RidersStand on the Sky and Sorrow's KnotPlain Kate won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2011.

Song & Dread by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek

The book cover is an abstract water colour illustration featuring a set of rectangles side by side.
Song & Dread is a book by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek. (Talonbooks, Seasmin Taylor)

Otoniya J. Okot Bitek wrote her latest collection, Song & Dread, inside during the early days of the pandemic, observing the emotions and experiences of a slow life in isolation. Song & Dread takes inventory of the value of community and what becomes normalized in the face of survival. 

Bitek is a poet and scholar. Her collection 100 Days was nominated for the BC Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, the Alberta Book Awards and the Canadian Authors Award for Poetry. It won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. She was also longlisted for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize for Gauntlet.

Diagnosing Minor Illness in Children by Kerry Ryan

A side by side of the book cover and the author photo, the cover is a doll house and the author is a smiling woman with curly hair
Diagnosing Minor Illness in Children is a poetry collection by Kerry Ryan. (Frontenac House, Jeope Wolfe)

In Diagnosing Minor Illness in Children, poet Kerry Ryan stares at everything in her path: family, grief, dog obituaries, fine-toothed lice combs, quotidian gore, a waterslide that is "not a slide, it's a throat closing in" and herself as a mother. The collection provides a glimpse of the poet struggling to suckle a wolf pup while admiring the softness of her daughter's cheek. Through humour and immersion in nature, Ryan comes to terms with the self-doubt and dislocation of motherhood. Staying close to home, she sees herself (and others) in birds blown thousands of kilometres off course and reindeer defending their young. 

Ryan is the author of The Sleeping Life and Vs., which was a finalist for the Acorn-Plantos Award for Peoples' Poetry. In 2022, she was shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize for Grief white. Ryan was previously longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2020 for Driver's Seat & Grief KnotDiagnosing Minor Illness in Children is her third poetry collection. She lives in Winnipeg.

The Legend of Baraffo by Moez Surani

A man with grey hair wearing a black shirt and the book cover with an illustration of a burning greek temple seen through a flying bird silhouette
Moez Surani is a Toronto-based poet and the author of the novel The Legend of Baraffo. (Book*Hug Press)

A mythic work of sweeping literary imagination, The Legend of Baraffo speaks to our current social climate and the ingredients for progress. This coming-of-age story, of a boy and a town, asks prescient questions about the nature of social change: is it better accelerated by those who seek total transformation or attained by those trying to work within the system?

When you can read it: Sept. 26, 2023 

Moez Surani is the author of four poetry books, including Operations and Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real. His writing has been published in Harper's Magazine, Best Canadian Poetry and the Globe and Mail. Surani was longlisted for the 2015 CBC Poetry Prize for The Day We Lay in Bed Like John Lennon.

A thin fire runs through me by Kim Trainor 

The book cover is an aerial shot of a green land mass and an ocean.
A thin fire runs through me is a book by Kim Trainor. (Goose Lane Editions, Kim Trainor)

A thin fire runs through me examines the tiny and mundane moments in life that exist amid ecological disaster and political turmoil. Written during a period of heartbreak, depression and new love, Kim Trainor's collection of short poems pull from many places, including current events, Jewish liturgy and lyricism. 

Trainor is the Vancouver-based author of the poetry collections Karyotype and Ledi. Her poems have won the Fiddlehead's Ralph Gustafson Prize, the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, the Great Blue Heron Prize.

Trainor has a long history with the CBC Literary Prizes: her poem Desolation made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist. She was also longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2018 for Sweetgum (7 readings of the I Ching), in 2014 for Peredelkino 1956-1960, in 2013 for In Baghdad it is Night and in 2012 for On the gravity of light (10 exposures in the manner of Francesca Woodman). In 2015, she appeared on the CBC Poetry Prize longlist three times for her poetry collections glass, clay, Lascaux, Winter ghazals and You tell me in the summer the light

More Sure by A. Light Zachary

The book cover features a red rectangle on the left and the black silhouette of the back half of a fox or coyote.
More Sure is a book by A. Light Zachary. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Saul Freedman-Lawson)

A. Light Zachary's debut collection, More Sure, is about the process of finding oneself again and again through time, experience and community. The poet explores themes of queerness, neurodivergence, labour, love and family. 

Zachary is a writer, editor and teacher living in Toronto and Grande-Digue, N.B. Zachary was longlisted twice for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize for their poems Two Girls and Why bury yourself in this place you ask.

Dandelion Daughter by Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay, translated by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

A young woman with long blonde hair, the book cover with a bouquet of dandelions and the translator wearing a white t-shirt and denim shirt over it
Dandelion Daughter is a book by Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay, left, and translated into English by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch. (Julie Langenegger, Véhicule Press, Laurence Philomène)

Dandelion Daughter is an autobiographical novel of author Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay's young life as a trans person who felt isolated, scared and trapped in the wrong body. The novel chronicles her coming-of-age story, including first loves, struggling with gender identity and conversation about the decision to transition, all while her parents' marriage was failing and she faced the alienation that comes with being discriminated against in society. 

Boulianne-Tremblay is a writer, actress, model and trans activist. Her other books include the poetry collections Le Ventre des volcans and Les secrets de l'origami, and La voix de la nature, a book for young adults.

Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a mixed-race Arab poet from Montreal. Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry, The Puritan and The New Quarterly. They were longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize for Nancy Ajram Made Me Gay. They were also a reader for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize.

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