Books·CBC Literary Prizes

Michael Fraser wins the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize

Fraser will receive $6,000 and a 10-day writing residency. His poem will be published in enRoute magazine and on CBC Books.
Michael Fraser won the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for "African Canadian in Union Blue." (Krystyna Wesolowska)

Michael Fraser has won the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for "African Canadian in Union Blue."

As the grand prize winner, Fraser will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and his poem will be published in Air Canada enRoute magazine. He will also receive a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

The jury was comprised of poets Roo Borson, George Elliott Clarke and Erín Moure.

"The excitement of this poem lies in the density and roil of its language that carry the reader into the thick of tumult: war and escape (to Canada) in a mad flight from those who would re-enslave," the jury said of the winning poem in a statement. "That this dramatic monologue highlighting African-Canadian history is rife with techniques gleaned from classical Anglo-Canadian poetics is a beautiful endorsement of the poet's consummate absorption of multiple heritages/histories, literary and political."

Fraser is an award-winning poet who has been published in Paris Atlantic, CV2 and The Caribbean Writer. He won Arc Poetry Magazine's readers' choice award for 2012, was included in The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2013 and won FreeFall's 2014 and 2015 poetry contests. His latest book is To Greet Yourself Arriving, which was published by Tightrope Books.

Fraser hopes his poem will teach readers about a time in Canadian history that is not well known. "I hope readers will simply allow the language to draw them into this man's world," he told CBC Books via email. "I also hope readers will become increasingly aware of the African-Canadian contributions to our glorious country."

Read "African Canadian in Union Blue" here.

The French winner of the Prix de poésie Radio-Canada 2016 was also announced.