Canadian Poetry Awards

The official notice is now online, but I've heard it first via someone who was there.  Suzanne Buffam won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for Best First Book of Poetry for her collection, Past Imperfect.

Past Imperfect
Suzanne Buffam

The debut poetry collection by the winner of the 1998 CBC Literary Award.

There is the heartbreak tied to human love and there is heartbreak that points to notions of the divine. The poems in Suzanne Buffam's début collection, Past Imperfect, enter the darkness of both — at times simultaneously — giving utterance to the breakage and shards of weak light found therein. Employing humour and directness to equal effect, Past Imperfect admits the self is fluid; so we wave farewell to many "selves."

These are poems of great intensity, driven by intelligence, tracing the barely knowable contours of a soul-in-progress. In a voice as confident, elegant, and vivid as it is brimming with doubt, Past Imperfect employs recurrent images like echoes or quiet obsessions. These become totems of absence, of presence, of the potential "other," or simply, of the world as it is: breathtakingly beautiful, refusing to minister to our solitude.

And Saskatchewanian, Sylvia Legris, comes home a winner again, bringing along the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for best book by a woman for Nerve Squall, her third book of poetry.

Nerve Squall

By Sylvia Legris
ISBN: 1552451607 Price: CDN $16.95
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback
Published: Fall, 2005

Sonic
congestion.

Purgatorial
traffic jam: corkscrewing

countercochlearwise
the only way out.

Nerve Squall is a field guide like no other, a surreal handbook to a landscape at the crossroads of meteorology and neurology, where the electrical storms without and the electrical impulses within converge.

Legris’s fascination with weather, ghosts and brain disorders is the starting point for a collection of poetry that ensures you’ll never look at nature the same way again. You’ll find snow golems and ghost cats, and a sky filled with fish swimming the winds of a storm. And you’ll find a haunted terrain where the natural world becomes an allegory for our most intimate fears.

Despite their dark and often cinematic approach, these poems are also tinged with a sly, apocalyptic wit that can’t help but laugh as the sky falls.

Nerve Squall is a vital exploration of the symbiosis of storm, nerve and language, a sure-handed guide to the end of the world.

‘Legris loves language, the way it radiates, not just for what it can say by syntactic regularity and accumulation, but for its cellular resonances … Powerful resonance is created over a whole page with a minimum of words, in a sculpture that hardly qualifies as verse as we commonly know it. But there is no question that it is poetry, and [that it] is the use of words at its most pared. Here is Legris’ brilliance, her knife-edged attention at its finest.’ – Open Letter

The awards were handed out in Ottawa on June 10 at the League of Canadian Poets Annual General Meeting. Each award carries a $1,000 prize. Congrats to both poets!

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