The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.
The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

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

The awards, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are given in seven English-language categories: fictionnonfiction, poetry, young 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 June 1, 2021.

The poetry category was assessed by David Groulx, Clea Roberts and Johanna Skibsrud.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the poetry finalists below.

Eight Track by Oana Avasilichioaei

Eight Track is a poetry collection by Oana Avasilichioaei. (Talonbooks)

Eight Track is a poetry collection that explores how we can be traced. From interview transcripts to recordings to surveillance cameras to art, Eight Track is about how we connect to each other, remember each other and record each other — and how these interactations create our culture and identities.

Oaana Avasilishoioaei is a writer, artist and translator from Montreal. She has written several poetry collections, including We, Beasts, Limbinal and Operator. She won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for translation for the book Readopolisoriginally written in French by Bertrand Laverdure.

 Avasilichioaei is also finalist in the translation category this year for her translation of Laverdure's latest novel, The Neptune Room.

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy by Anne Carson

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy is a poetry collection by Anne Carson. (New Directions)

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy is a poetry collection that looks at the power of beauty. It brings together the mythology of Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe, two women who lived a thousand years apart but whose beauty brought them power and influence, but ultimately undid them.

Anne Carson is one of Canada's most accomplished poets. Her accolades include a Guggenheim, a Lannan Foundation fellowship and a MacArthur "genius grant." She recently won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. She won the inaugural Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001 for her collection Men in the Off Hours. She has written several poetry collections, including Autobiography of Red, Antigonick and Red Doc>.

We revisit Michael Enright’s 2016 interview with renowned Canadian poet Anne Carson. They spoke about her fascination with grammar and syntax ("the secrets of life are embedded in grammar,") and why she calls writing "an attempt at catastrophe."

Orrery by Donna Kane

Orrery is a poetry collection by Donna Kane. (Harbour Publishing, Wayne Sawchuk)

Orrery is a poetry collection inspired by Pioneer 10, the American space probed launched in 1972 to study the moons of Jupiter. In 2003, the probe was retired. NASA stopped sending signals to it, and it was left to wander into deep space. Donna Kane uses the probe and its new infinite course to examine materiality, empathy and transformation.

Kane is a poet from British Columbia. She has published three poetry collections, the others are called Somewhere, a Fire and Erratic.

Rising Canadian literary star Canisia Lubrin talks about her new poetry collection The Dyzgraphxst.

Render by Sachiko Murakami

Render is a poetry collection by Sachiko Murakami. (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Render is a potry collection that explores addiction, recovery and trauma through a series of dreamscapes.

Sachiko Murakami is a poet and editor from Toronto. Her other collections include The Invisibility Exhibit, Rebuild and Get Me Out of Here.

The Dyzgraphxst by Canisia Lubrin

The Dyzgraphxst is a poetry book by Canisia Lubrin. (Samuel Engelking, McClelland & Stewart)

Pronounced "Diss-GRAFF-ist," The Dyzgraphxst is a poetry collection is set against the backdrop of contemporary capitalist fascism, nationalism and the climate disaster, where Jejune, the central figure, grapples with understanding their existence and identity.

The Dyzgraphxst won the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. It is currently a finalist for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Canisia Lubrin is a writer, editor and teacher. Her debut poetry collection, Voodoo Hypothesis, was longlisted for the Gerald Lambert Award, the Pat Lowther Award and was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award. She is one of the jurors for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize.

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