Books

Louise Bernice Halfe, Selina Boan, Leah Horlick & David Bradford shortlisted for 2022 Canadian poetry prizes

The League of Canadian Poets have revealed the shortlists for their annual 2022 prizes, which celebrate the best books in Canadian poetry.

The League of Canadian Poets reveal their 2022 shortlists

From left to right: Louise Bernice Halfe, Selina Boan, Leah Horlick and David Bradford are shortlisted for 2022 League of Canadian Poets' Book Awards. (Library of Parliament, Kayla McInnis, Erin Flegg, Sarah Bodri)

Louise Bernice Halfe's awâsis — kinky and dishevelledSelina Boan's Undoing Hours, David Bradford's Dream of No One but Myself, and Leah Horlick's Moldovan Hotel have been shortlisted for 2022 League of Canadian Poets' Book Awards.

The organization annually administers three poetry prizes to celebrate the year's best published works  — the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for debut books, Pat Lowther Memorial Award for books by Canadian women and Raymond Souster Award for books by League members.

The winner of each prize receives $2,000.

Halfe's awâsis — kinky and dishevelled is on the shortlist for the Raymond Souster Award. Her book explores stories of resistance, rebellion and laughter by way of awâsis, a gender-fluid trickster character who takes readers on a humorous journey of mystery and spirituality.

"Rambunctious and playful, these vibrant poem-stories laugh and reveal, disrupt and heal," said the jurors in a statement.

"Their language leaps, does backflips, blazes like a shooting star, sneaks up, announces itself with a belch. Wherever the sly, witty and wise Awâsis (the "illuminated child") turns up, the heart of human experience appears in all its surprising complexity and absurdity."

Halfe is Canada's ninth Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Her previous acclaimed books include Burning in this Midnight Dream, Bear Bones & FeathersBlue Marrow and The Crooked Good.

Boan's debut book Undoing Hours is shortlisted for two prizes. Her poetry explores the connection between language and power, as she reflects on her upbringing as a white settler and urban nehiyaw woman.

"Fresh and evocative, the poems in this collection trace this journey and others — including relationships with family, friends, language and self— in a voice that is at once tender and fierce," said the jurors.

"This work takes place on the tongue. Words are pared and paired as offering. It's a stirring example of exposing the vulnerable process of what it takes to draw what is beloved nearer to you."

A finalist for the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize, Boan was also included in Best Canadian Poetry 2018 and 2020.

Bradford's Dream of No One but Myself is a finalist for best debut book. His collection combines prose poems, verse and collages of family photos to describe what it was like to grow up in a troubled family. Bradford presents an unstable, frayed account of family inheritance, intergenerational traumas and domestic tenderness.

"To speak of the self within the deconstruction of language, to bring meaning to language fragments through the skillful use of docu-poetics: this brings joy," said the jury.

"David Bradford's Dream of No One but Myself is an impressive and beautiful debut, bringing together experimental poetics with an urgent lyric voice. It understands that to get at meaning one must assemble and disassemble, obscure and clarify."

Dream of No One but Myself is also on the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize's Canadian shortlist. Bradford is a poet, editor and organizer based in Montreal. His work has appeared in The Capilano Review, The Tiny, The Fiddlehead, Carte Blanche and elsewhere. He is a founding editor of House House Press.

Horlick's Moldovan Hotel received two nominations. Her book was created after a 2017 trip to eastern Europe, where the poet visited the area her Jewish ancestors fled.

"Horlick opens Moldovan Hotel with the fantasy of ancestors of past loves in a room together, their historical associations and interactions problematizing identity, relationship, truth, and story," said the jury.

"The poems that follow pirouette between past and present, real and imagined, beautifully rendered countryside and the echoes of loss that does not come from the inevitability of life but from the purposeful destruction of other, whether national, religious, or ethnic. Yet these poems, with their purposeful and arresting use of language, together form a prayer for a better world, built not on burying old crimes, but on looking closely to see the truth of the past and to expose it so that it cannot poison the future."

The Calgary poet's previous books include For Your Own Good and Riot Lung.

Winners of the League of Canadian Poets' Book Awards will be announced on May 5. See all of the shortlists below.

2022 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award shortlist for best debut book:

2022 Pat Lowther Memorial Award shortlist for books by Canadian women:

2022 Raymond Souster Award shortlist for best book by a member of the League of Canadian Poets:

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