Literary Prizes

Alycia Pirmohamed wins 2019 CBC Poetry Prize

Pirmohamed will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Read her winning collection of poems now.
Alycia Pirmohamed is a Calgary poet based in Scotland. (Tim Phillips)

Alycia Pirmohamed from Calgary has won the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize for her collection of poems, Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih.

Pirmohamed will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have her work published on CBC Books.

Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih was selected by the jury, comprised of writers Lynn Crosbie, Olive Senior and Billy-Ray Belcourt

"Here is a poet who 'pours and pours' the whole world inside a single sentence. A poet who puts a sentence under a sentence to build a world," the jury said in a statement. "There is a biographical depth in Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih that gives expression to a narrative yearning that is immediately felt — so much so that to read on is to get to the heart of the lyric mode. There is an unwavering confidence here, a quiet playfulness, and an ear for unpredictable images and symbols, all of which suggest to us that this is a poet to watch, from whom we may learn, in their diction, 'how to symmetry, how to pray.'"

Pirmohamed's poetry was selected from more than 2,500 English-language submissions.

The other finalists were Faith Arkorful for Family Affair, Stephanie Bolster for Shelter Object, Catherine Greenwood for The Grolar Bear's Ballad, Erin Soros for You Left Something, Sarah Tsiang for 12 and Cara Waterfall for Caribou in the Anthropocene

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

The jury selected the finalists and the winner from a longlist of 33 poems. A team of writers and editors from across Canada compiled the list.

Maud Evelyne from Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Que., is the winner of the French-language grand prize, Prix de poésie Radio-Canada, for her poem J'ai vu ma mère en rêve.

The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979. Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winter and Frances Itani.​

Interested in entering the CBC Literary Prizes? The 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January 2020. The 2021 CBC Short Story Prize will open in September 2020.