Atlantic Poetry Prize Shortlist

We are entering shortlists season. Regional awards aplenty in March, then the league prizes on April 4th, and the big Griffin announcement on the 5th. At the risk of blowing myself out between now and then, I do want to give a shout out to the three books (all really good ones, I feel) that made the list for the Atlantic Poetry Prize. The APP being the regional poetry award of Vox’s homeland, and all.

I Do Not Think that I Could Love a Human Being
by Johanna Skibsrud (Gaspereau)

It’s nice to get a reminder that Johanna is, as well as being a successful novelist and national sin-eater for all the joys and hypocrasies of the publishing industry, a poet first and foremost. I predict this shortlisting will result in less than one one-thousandth the foo-fer-ah that accompanied her other literary prize this year. This is a complicated book, and took me a couple passes before I managed to lock on to her rhythm. It looks casual and arrhythmic at first. It’s not.

Learning to Count
by Douglas Burnet Smith (Frontenac)

This is a book that should have some more readers. I said so here. You should get one. You can do that at the link above. The larger piece that sits in the middle of Learning to Count, Terrace and Dome, is a perfect object lesson in how to structure the unstructured long poem.

Lookout
by John Steffler (McClelland & Stewart)

Another solid book by one of Canada’s best mid-career poets. What’s not to like? I thin, on the whole, I’d take Ravenous or Grey Islands over this newest one, but there’s some staggering poems here. I can’t think of specific titles but there’s one about a river about two-thirds of the way through that is among his best.

Lots of other books didn’t make the list, but I’m happy with this one. Would have been nice to see maybe George Murray’s Glimpse, or Sharon McCartney’s For and Against, make it. But I can live with this. In the usually-enraging pantheon of poetry shortlists, I can live with this.

You can learn more about this year’s APP list, and the rest of the Atlantic Book Awards, over here.

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Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, Awards, Canadian Literature, Poems in the Wider World

2 Comments on “Atlantic Poetry Prize Shortlist”


  1. First time poster, long time reader. Thanks for the info about the Smith book. I’m currently trying to structure an unstructured long poem.

  2. voxpopulism Says:

    Cheers, Ian.

    I think the Smith poem works quite well. Lots of other examples though, of course. Perhaps even your own!

    -Jmm


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