Books

Read a poem from Griffin Poetry Prize finalist How She Read by Chantal Gibson

The $65,000 prize is one of the richest poetry prizes in the world. The winner will be announced on May 19, 2020.
Chantal Gibson is the author of How She Read. (Caitlin Press, Chantal Gibson)

How She Read by Chantal Gibson is a finalist for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize.

The award annually gives out two $65,000 prizes — one to a book of Canadian poetry and one to an international book of poetry — making it one of the world's richest prizes of its kind.

The other finalists are Heft by Doyali Islam and Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough.

The winner will be announced on May 19, 2020.

Gibson's How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of black women in Canada. The Vancouver-based Gibson has East Coast roots and she brings a holistic, decolonized approach to challenging imperialist ideas by way of a close look at Canadian literature, history, art, media and pop culture.

Gibson is an artist, poet and educator who currently teaches at Simon Fraser University. CBC Books named Gibson a black Canadian writer to watch in 2019How She Read is her first poetry collection.

Read an excerpt from How She Read below.


from homonyms

                                     We knead our
fingers in a little egg and water to hold it together.
We need our hands to touch and turn this mixing
bowl into a talisman. Jus skin n bones, girl, you wink
an elbow into my ribs, pray there's time to make

a woman of me, but you just scratch the surface of
my adolescence. If I'd stop biting my nails, stand up
straight, we wouldn't have to fight tooth n nail to get
along. You play "Stuck on You" for the umpteenth time,
snap your fingers on the downbeat. I count (5, 6, 7,

and 8) every scratch on the vinyl, mutter something
foolish like, Wish you'd keep your hands off my stuff,
til your backhand reminds me I am your stuff, always
under your skin, eyes rolling, all sass n backtalk, til
you're itchin to skin me alive.

From How She Read by Chantal Gibson©2019. Published by Caitlin Press.

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