Books

The finalists for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry

The 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards will be awarded to books in seven English-language categories, each featuring five finalists. The winners will be announced on Oct. 29, 2019.
The winners of the 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards will be announced on Oct. 29. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

The Governor General's Literary Awards are one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious prizes. 

The awards, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are given in seven English-language categories: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people's literature — textyoung people's literature — illustrationdrama and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Oct. 29, 2019.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway

Holy Wild is a poetry collection by Gwen Benaway. (Book*hug Press, gwenbenaway.com)

The poems of Holy Wild explore the intersection of Indigenous and transgender identities. Gwen Benaway writes from a personal place, sharing stories of love and intimacy as well as violence and transphobia. 

Benaway is a poet of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. Her other collections include Ceremonies for the Dead and Passage. She lives in Toronto.

How to Avoid Huge Ships by Julie Bruck

How to Avoid Huge Ships is a poetry collection by Julie Bruck. (Brick Books)

The poems of How to Avoid Huge Ships explore what it means to be a parent and also to lose parents. Julie Bruck mines the experiences of those in that in-between place, witnessing growth and decline with amusement and concern.

Bruck is a Canadian writer based in San Francisco. Her previous book, Monkey Ranch, won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry in 2012.

St. Boniface Elegies by Catherine Hunter

St. Boniface Elegies is a poetry collection by Catherine Hunter. (Signature Editions)

Catherine Hunter wrestles with grief, domestic life and poetry in her fourth collection, St. Boniface Elegies. A strong sense of imagery ties the book together, as Hunter moves through both professional and personal themes.

Hunter is a poet and novelist who teaches English at the University of Winnipeg. Her previous books include Latent Heat and After Light.

The Grand River Watershed by Karen Houle

The Grand River Watershed is a poetry collection by Karen Houle. (Gaspereau Press)

Karen Houle's "folk ecology" tells the story of the Grand River watershed in southern Ontario. In The Grand River WatershedHoule blends science with personal anecdotes, emotion with logic, to offer a complex portrait of the river's natural history.

Houle is the author of three poetry collections. Her other books are Ballast and Buring. She is a professor at the University of Guelph.

TREATY # by Armand Garnet Ruffo

Treaty # is a poetry collection by Armand Garnet Ruffo. (Wolsak & Wynn)

Armand Garnet Ruffo's TREATY # is an examination of the nature and meaning of a treaty. Ruffo documents his observations of life from an Indigenous perspective, looking at belief systems and the complex, evolving connections and obligations between nation-to-nation, human-to-human and human-to-nature.

Garnet Ruffo is an Ojibwe poet who lives in Kingston, Ont. where he teaches at Queen's University. He is also a nonfiction writer and was a finalist for the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for the biography Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird.

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