Meet the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize readers
Every year, CBC Books enlists the help of established writers and editors from across Canada to read the thousands of entries submitted to our prizes.
Our readers compile the longlist, which is given to the jury. The jury, comprised of Armand Garnet Ruffo, Megan Gail Coles and Hoa Nguyen, then selects the shortlist and the eventual winner from the longlisted selections.
The shortlist will be announced on Nov. 17 and the winner will be announced on Nov. 24.
The winner of the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize 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 their work published on CBC Books.
Here are the 12 writers who served as readers for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize.
Jillian Christmas is an artist, creative facilitator, curator, consultant and advocate in the arts community. She is the long-time spoken word curator of the Vancouver Writers Fest, and former artistic director of Verses Festival of Words. Utilizing an anti-oppressive lens, Christmas has performed and facilitated workshops across North America. She is the author of The Gospel of Breaking and the children's book The Magic Shell.
The Gospel of Breaking draws on Christmas's politics, family history and queer lineage, telling stories of love lost, friendship and community.
Jaclyn Desforges is the author of Danger Flower, one of CBC Books' picks for the best Canadian poetry of 2021. She's also the author of a picture book, Why Are You So Quiet?, which was nominated for a Chocolate Lily Award. Desforges is a Pushcart-nominated writer and the winner of the 2020 Hamilton Emerging Artist Award for Writing, two 2019 Short Works Prizes, and the 2018 RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award. Her writing has been featured in literary magazines across Canada. She is an MFA candidate at the University of British Columbia's School of Creative Writing and lives in Hamilton with her partner and daughter.
Danger Flower evokes the cautionary nature of fairy tales, calling upon uncanny images of lush gardens, nesting dolls and Tamagotchis, as the poems navigate gender, sex and motherhood in a dangerous and evolving world. Desforges infuses her poetry with sensation, sometimes painful, sometimes pleasurable and sometimes both at once.
Michael Fraser is a Canadian poet based in Toronto. His newest poetry collection, The Day-Breakers, was published in April. He won the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for the poem African Canadian in Union Blue. He is the author of the poetry collections The Serenity of Stone, which won the 2007 Canadian Aid Literary Award Contest, and To Greet Yourself Arriving.
The Day-Breakers is an homage to the sacrifice of the Black Canadian soldiers who fought for the Union during the American Civil War. These poems capture their voices and the era in which they lived, providing a new perspective on Black history.
Kyla Jamieson is a poet, mentor, editor and essayist who lives with a dynamic and invisible disability resulting from a brain injury. She was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2019 and 2020. Her first book, Body Count, was a CBC Best Poetry Book of the Year in 2020 and was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Born and raised in Squamish and North Vancouver, she now lives and relies on the traditional unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, where she dreams of systemic change, care-full futures, and disabled joy.
Body Count focuses on Jamieson's experience with a concussion and the resulting aftermath. Through her poems, Jamieson explores physical pain, memory impairment, anxiety and depression in search of new understandings of worth and identity.
Conor Kerr is a Métis/Ukrainian writer and labrador retriever enthusiast. A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, he is descended from the Lac Ste. Anne Metis and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His Ukrainian family were settlers in Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan. In 2021, he received The Malahat Review's long poem prize and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. In 2020, he won The Fiddlehead's Ralph Gustafson Poetry Award. He is the author of the novel Avenue of Champions, and the poetry collection An Explosion of Feathers. His next collection of poetry, Old Gods, is coming out in the Spring of 2023.
Set in Edmonton, Kerr's Avenue of Champions explores the lives of Indigenous youth and the colonial contexts in which they grow up, including the violence, racism and trauma they endure and the cultural lessons, land rights, elder relationships and language revitalization they fight for. Avenue of Champions won the 2022 ReLit Award and was a finalist for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a writer living in Tio'tia:ke. Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, The New Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine and elsewhere. They were longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2019. Their book knot body was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia First Book Award. Their second book, The Good Arabs, was published in 2021. They are an editor at smoke and mold and the non-fiction editor at The Puritan. They are also an acquisitions editor at Metonymy Press.
The Good Arabs is a collection of both verse and prose poems that explores place and belonging. The poems take readers from post-explosion Beirut to Montreal in the summer and reflect on communities, identity and families both biological and chosen.
Thandiwe McCarthy is a writer, spoken word poet and seventh generation Black Canadian. As a writer, McCarthy has published essays with the Nova Scotia Advocate exploring his Black identity. In 2020, Thandiwe performed his poetry at Atlantic Canada's largest literary event, Frye Festival and UNB's 2020 Art Centre exhibit, Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers. As a community advocate, he has co-founded the New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance and helped republish the history book titled The Blacks of New Brunswick.
Part prose and part poetry, Social Oblivion: Raised Black in Canada is an exploration on identity culture and education in rural and urban New Brunswick. The book takes the reader through the first 20 years of McCarthy's life.
Dwayne Morgan began his career in the spoken word in 1993. Affectionately called the godfather of Canadian spoken word by his peers, Morgan is the author of 14 published and nine audio collections of his work. Morgan is a 2022 winner of the Toronto Arts Foundation Celebration of Cultural Life award, 2016 finalist for the Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts and a 2013 inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame. To date, Morgan has shared his work in 18 countries internationally.
All That Remains is a poetry collection inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan describes his 14th book as a reflection of the thoughts, experiences and feelings of 2020.
Heather Nolan (she/her) is a neurodiverse writer from St. John's. She is 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.
Land of the Rock: Talamh an Carraig is an exploration of belonging in a lost ancestral culture. Moving through Newfoundland and Ireland, these poems look for meaning in words, places and behaviour. Whether the subject is tourists on Fogo Island or the landscape of the Burren, Gaelic Ireland is reimagined and displaced across the Atlantic.
Gillian Sze is the author of multiple poetry collections. She has also written books for children, including The Night Is Deep and Wide, which was listed as one of the Best Books for Kids in 2021 by the New York Public Library. Her work has attained starred reviews from Quill & Quire, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews and has been translated into Slovenian, French, Italian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Greek. Her latest collection of poems and essays, Quiet Night Think, explores the early shaping of a writer, the creative process, and motherhood.
Sze reflects on her familial and artistic origins in Quiet Night Think. This collection takes its name from a direct translation of an eighth-century Chinese poem by Li Bai, the subject of the opening essay. As Sze moves between poetry and prose, mother and writer, she meditates on ideas of emergence and transformation.
Russell Thornton's collection The Hundred Lives was shortlisted for the 2015 Griffin Prize; his Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain was shortlisted for the 2013 Governor General's Award. His most recent books are The Broken Face and Answer to Blue. He has a collection forthcoming called The White Light of Tomorrow. He lives in North Vancouver.
The past, both ancient and recent, exerts a gravitational pull throughout Answer to Blue. With Greek myths, family histories and biblical passages, Russell Thornton gives attention to transitional states, pausing at the often rushed-through moments of change, and also examines the phenomenon of perception itself.
Carolyne Van Der Meer is a Montreal journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer whose articles, essays, short stories and poems have been published internationally. Her books include Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience and a collection of poetry entitled Journeywoman. Her poetry collection Heart of Goodness was awarded second prize in the Poetry Category of the Catholic Media Association's 2021 Annual Book Awards and was shortlisted in The Word Guild's 2021 annual Word Awards.
Sensorial is a journey in sensory perception, guiding us through urban landscapes, animal connections and familial bonds. It reflects on aging, illness, what really matters and who we are both physically and metaphysically.