Three B.C. poets up for Pat Lowther
April 26th, 2021
Three B.C. poets have been shortlisted for the 2021 Pat Lowther Memorial Award:
- Cicely Belle Blain (at right) for Burning Sugar (Arsenal Pulp, 2020). The jurors’ wrote: “Gorgeous and thematically sweeping, Cicely Belle Blain’s Burning Sugar is an intricately-woven book by a Black/mixed, queer femme narrator, both mournful and hopeful, painting vibrant scenes, scents, and sounds of ‘searching for Black joy / and / drowning in Black pain.’ It asks us to contemplate the legacy of violence, colonial history, and the continuation of trauma on Black bodies. Searing, honest, and unsettling, Burning Sugar showcases power through vulnerability.
- Jillian Christmas for the gospel of breaking (Arsenal Pulp, 2020). The jurors’ wrote: “Jillian Christmas’s the gospel of breaking is lyrical and bold, with an urgency and intensity that crosses forms. Powerful verses abound, from the opening interrogation of ‘what is a body’ and ‘who is family enough / to hold it’ to ‘no one should be chained to the darkest / parts of themselves’ to ‘one day I will say goodbye so hard that my whole / body will blossom into a field of poppies.’ Through solid technique, Christmas shows her capacity for vulnerability and humour, and the sacredness of wholistic. care-centred intelligence.”
- Kyla Jamieson for Body Count (Nightwood, 2020). The jurors’ wrote: “In Body Count, Kyla Jamieson offers readers a wonderfully self-aware voice, youthful and wise at once. Jamieson’s work discloses what it is to be confined to a human category in the current screenshotted, Google searched, and over-texted zeitgeist, to be lonely — asking questions to Siri, where emotions and feelings are explained via emojis. The narrator speaks of what it is to live with an invisible illness and disability, being under the cis-male gaze, and questions smartly without didacticism of being in constant negotiation with climate change, capitalism, and consumerism, and the shifting dynamics of politics. Ultimately the book asks, is there such a thing as free will, or are we all just victims living in a gruesome and artificial gimmick, where bodies are only viewed by levels of profit-making ability?
Open to Canadian women, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award has been awarded annually since 1981 for a book of poetry published in the preceding year. This prize is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $2000 prize, and is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. The jurors for the 2021 Pat Lowther Memorial Award are: Puneet Dutt, Doyali Islam and Cassidy McFadzean.
Jillian Christmas was also shortlisted for this year’s Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for a debut book of poetry along with B.C.’s Valerie Mason-John for I Am Still Your Negro (U of Alberta, 2020).