171 books were eligible for the GG in English Poetry this year. Let’s think about that number for a minute. If one were to read a book of Canadian poetry in English once every two days, you’d finish the task of reading through the lot of them with a couple weeks to spare before announcing the shortlist. Crazy.
Here’s the list of titles submitted for consideration. There’s whole presses on this thing I’ve never seen before, have never come across in a bookstore. Is 171 too many? Probably. There were 152 on the list in 2000, 144 in 2005. Canadian poetry, it would appear, is a growth industry.
That number, 171, also casts some context on the chorus of “MY list would have looked way different” we’re likely to hear in the coming weeks. Have any of these casual pundits read more than a quarter of the submitted books? I consider myself a pretty well-read consumer of contemporary literature, and that literature trends distinctly poetic, and distinctly Canadian, and I’ve spent time with exactly 49 of these books. Not even a third. And some of those 49 never got to the finish line, just a representative sample before being banished back to the unvisited section of my bookshelf [Note: That section isn’t really even a shelf, even, more the corner of my bedroom]. I plan on reading my third of the five books that made the final cut this weekend.
What the hell is BuschekBooks? They appear to have published 4 books in the last 12 months. What if those four turned out to be my favourites?