Books

The finalists for the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year.

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year

The 2022 Governor General's Literary Awards for poetry finalists. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2022 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: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people's literature — textyoung people's literature — illustrationdrama and French-to-English translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories. 

The Canada Council for the Arts is a partner of the CBC Literary Prizes. The 2023 CBC Short Story Prize is currently open for submissions.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Nov. 16, 2022.

The poetry category was assessed by Joe Denham, Stewart Donova and Aisha Sasha John.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the poetry finalists below.

Dream of No One But Myself by David Bradford

Dream of No One but Myself is a poetry collection by David Bradford. (Brick Books)

David Bradford's Dream of No One But Myself, brings together prose poems, verse and photographs to examine the experience and challenges of growing up in a "troubled" mixed-race family in Montreal's South Shore neighbourhood.

Dream of No One But Myself was also a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best debut book at the League of Canadian Poets awards.

Bradford is a poet, editor and organizer based in Montreal. His work has appeared in The Capilano Review, The Tiny, The Fiddlehead and Carte Blanche. He is also a founding editor of House House Press.

LISTEN | David Bradford reads from Dream of No One But Myself:

Canadian poet David Bradford joined us to share a special reading from his debut collection, Dream of No One But Myself, which is shortlisted for this year's Griffin Poetry Prize.

H of H Playbook by Anne Carson

The black book cover has small circle in the middle that looks like a scrap of newspaper material torn off with black and white abstract stripes.
H of H Playbook is a book by Anne Carson. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images, New Directions Publishing)

H of H Playbook is about a Greek tragedy called Herakles by the 5th-century BC poet Euripides. According to myth, Herakles, known for being a symbol of "manly violence," returns home after years of creating war. Unsurprisingly, he finds he cannot adjust to a peaceful life and kills his whole family. Before he kills himself, his friend, Theseuse, intervenes, reminding Herakles that his life has value and potential for redemption.

Anne Carson has won numerous awards and accolades, including a Guggenheim, a Lannan Foundation fellowship and a MacArthur "genius grant." With her 2001 book, The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos, she became the first woman to receive England's T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. Carson also won Canada's inaugural Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001 for her collection Men in the Off Hours. Her other poetry collections include Autobiography of Red, Antigonick and Red Doc.

LISTEN | Anne Carson discusses her life and work:

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."

Horrible Dance by Avery Lake

Horrible Dance is a book by Avery Lake. (Brick Books)

Horrible Dance is about gender-based violence that dismantles the received definitions of both gender and violence. These poems navigate personal and political terrain in search of love and show how such a search can be catastrophically derailed. Horrible Dance explores the complexity of harm and points the reader towards compassion, tenderness and solidarity. 

Avery Lake is a writer living in Montreal.

Shadow Blight by Annick MacAskill

The pink book cover feature huge block letters across the cover. The block letters are a fragment of the book title and author's name.
Shadow Blight is a book by Annick MacAskill. (Nolan Natasha, Gaspereau Press)

Drawing on ancient mythology, Shadow Blight explores the grief and loneliness of pregnancy loss. Interweaving contemporary experience with mythological stories, Annick MacAskill gives new language to often unspeakable pain. 

MacAskill lives in Halifax, where she teaches French language and literature at Saint Mary's University. Her poetry collections include Murmurations and No Meeting Without Body, which was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and shortlisted for the J.M. Abraham Award. 

Shifting Baseline Syndrome by Aaron Kreuter

Shifting Baseline Syndrome is a poetry collection by Aaron Kreuter. (University of Regina Press, Submitted by Aaron Kreuter)

In his sophomore poetry collection, Shifting Baseline Syndrome, Aaron Kreuter asks both philosophical and satirical questions alike, such as "will the Anthropocene have a laugh track?" or "What is it like to have an acid trip in a portapotty?" Morphing from absurd to sentimental and back again, Kreuter's book demonstrates a human need for answers and for an ending worth watching. 

Kreuter is also the Toronto author of the short story collection You and Me, Belonging and the poetry collection Arguments for Lawn Chairs. You and Me, Belonging won The Miramichi Reader's 2019 "The Very Best Of!" award for short fiction, and was shortlisted for a Vine Award for Jewish Literature in the fiction category.

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