The finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry
The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year
Here are the finalists for the 2021 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 prizes, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are awarded in seven English-language categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people's literature — text, young people's literature — illustration, drama 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 Nov. 17, 2021.
The poetry category was assessed by Kaie Kellough, George Murray and Anna Marie Sewell.
You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.
Get to know the poetry finalists below.
A History of the Theories of Rain by Stephen Collis
A History of the Theories of Rain is a poetry collection that explores our current state of anxiety and sense of impending doom, using a mixture of lyrics, speculation and philosophy.
Stephen Collis is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Commons, On the Material, Once in Blockadia and Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten. In 2019, he was awarded the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, which honours a poet for their body of work. He lives near Vancouver and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure by Hoa Nguyen
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure offers a meditation on historical, personal and cultural pressures before and after the fall of Saigon, accompanied by verse biography on the poet's mother, a stunt motorcyclist in an all-women Vietnamese circus troupe. The poems explore language and loss, time and place and past and future. It also won the Canada Book Award.
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure is also a finalist for the 2021 U.S. National Book Award.
Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry, including As Long As Trees Last and Violet Energy Ingots, which was a finalist for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize. Born in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, Nguyen was raised and educated in the United States. She has lived in Canada since 2011.
Sulphurtongue by Rebecca Salazar
Sulphurtongue is the debut poetry collection by Rebecca Salazar. The wide array of poems explores how we create our identities and how they collide with and complicate each other. They take on the relationships to family, desire, religion, the land, politics, trauma and the natural world — and how these things shape who we are.
Salazar is a writer, editor and community organizer from New Brunswick. They edit the publications The Fiddlehead and Plenitude.
The Junta of Happenstance by Tolu Oloruntoba
The Junta of Happenstance is the first poetry collection from Nigerian Canadian writer Tolu Oloruntoba. The Junta of Happenstance is an exploration of disease, both medical and emotional. It explores family dynamics, social injustice, the immigrant experience, economic anxiety and the nature of suffering.
Oloruntoba is a writer from Nigeria who now lives in Vancouver. He is the founder of the literary magazine Klorofyl.
The Untranslatable I by Roxanna Bennett
Roxanna Bennett is a queer poet living with a disability, and explores both these identities in her work. The Untranslatable I continues this tradition as Bennett reflects on how her lived experiences have shaped who she is.
Bennett is a poet from Whitby, Ont. Their other poetry collections include Unmeaningable and The Uncertainty Principle. Unmeaningable won the 2020 Raymond Souster Award from the League of Canadian Poets and the 2020 Trillium Book Award for poetry.
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