Books

Read a poem from Griffin Poetry Prize winner Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough

The $65,000 prize is one of the richest poetry prizes in the world.
Kaie Kellough is a Montreal writer, performer and 'general word-sound systemizer.' (Kaie Kellough, McClelland & Stewart)

Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough is the winner of 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 were Heft by Doyali Islam and  How She Read by Chantal Gibson.

Kellough plays with geography and self-determination in Magnetic Equator, his third poetry collection. Drifting between South and North America, Kellough digs into the ancestral belonging, exploring the Canadian Prairie, Georgetown, Guyana and the Atlantic Ocean. It looks at the nature of language and dialect in the works of Caribbean and Canadian writers, seeking origin, identity and understanding.

Kellough is a writer based in Montreal. His novel Accordéon was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2017.

He is also a juror for the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize, which is accepting submissions until May 31, 2020.

Read an excerpt from Magnetic Equator below.


turning back

turning back, is this a beginning?     is it preferable to be erased, to have a
voice that does not know the chorus because it sounds outside the tradition,
because it is stolen by the chinook, or to have a dream of sweating in the
malarial mud swarmed by morpho peleides, sapphire butterflies, each one the
spirit of an ancestor     is it better to own a new bungalow in a
new development, or to live where your name was born, where your memory
has tongue     is this the reckoning: being between, turning between a
newness of mr. clean and president's choice, and choke-and-rob in the bloody
dusk, between a full tank of gas and love in a time of bauxite strikes     i have
to reckon with this far reach, this far flung, this beyond beyond the
perimeter, wandering latitudes of longing and ache, where there exists no
critical authentic, no mas, nothing but blown fragments, and a polaroid
     frozen at the departure gate, timehri in 1973.     i look up from my
aunt's afro.     out the sedan's window: mile markers, flashing fenceposts and
barb wire slung between clouds, unconscious in their blind dreaming

From Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough. ©2019. Published by McClelland & Stewart.

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