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Contest

The Confederation Poets Prize & Critics’ Desk Award Winners for 2020

Congratulations to all our 2020 winners!

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Con­fed­er­a­tion Poets Prize

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Arc Poetry Mag­a­zine’s Con­fed­er­a­tion Poets Prize is named in recog­ni­tion of a group of Cana­dian poets who were born around the time of Cana­dian Con­fed­er­a­tion. The term was first applied and usu­ally refers to Charles G.D. Roberts, Bliss Car­man, Archibald Lamp­man and Dun­can Camp­bell Scott. Lamp­man and Scott, as well their con­tem­po­rary William Wil­fred Camp­bell, lived and wrote in Ottawa, where, in the for­ma­tive years of a new coun­try, they helped lay the foun­da­tion for a tra­di­tion of poetry.

A cen­tury later, Arc hon­ours them and acknowl­edges the wealth of new Cana­dian poetry by awarding the annual Con­fed­er­a­tion Poets Prize for the best poem pub­lished in Arc in the pre­ced­ing year. Selected by a promi­nent mem­ber of Canada’s lit­er­ary com­mu­ni­ties, the award includes a $250 prize.

This year’s judge was Conyer Clayton.

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cover of Arc 91, which is mostly black and white

 

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This year’s Con­fed­er­a­tion Poets Prize winner is “Inevitable Pain” by Mosab Alnomairy, from Arc 91.

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https://i0.wp.com/arcpoetry.ca/files/2021/08/mosab.jpg?resize=256%2C250&ssl=1

 

Clayton had this to say about the winning poem:

I am blown away by how much this poem does in just 2 lines. “Inevitable Pain” is heart wrenching by virtue of its sparsity, and somehow evokes a literal lifetime of pain and witnessing of pain in a simple image. I think of this poem nearly every day now.

 

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Critic’s Desk Award

With the Critic’s Desk Award, Arc marks the importance that the thoughtful treatment of poetry holds in the evolution and wider appreciation of the genre.

Inaugurated in Arc’s 25th-anniversary year, the Critic’s Desk Award honours excellence in book reviewing. The Award is given annually to a feature review and to a brief review to have been published in Arc in the previous calendar year.

This year’s judge was Adrian De Leon..

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De Leon had this to say about the winning reviews:

“The poetry book review is dead. Long live the poetry book review.”

Lamenting the book review is maybe as old as book reviews themselves. With every new medium, and every new generation of readers, one might find a hearty complaint about “kids these days” not knowing how to read, or not valuing some older form of value appraisal.

But, as I’ve learned during this incredible time with Arc, the book review is alive and well. Submissions ranged from masterful prosody, to thoughtful author biographies, and to a work’s significance within larger issues of social justice.

Among the best of the best were pieces that re-configured the role of a book review, from simple appraisal and recommendation, towards the often disorienting and exhilarating experience of being a reader today.

And maybe this is what a book review needs to highlight: the relationship between a reader, a text, an author, and the wider world in which we live and struggle.

 

Brief review:

Winner: Carolyn Nakagawa, on Mercedes Eng’s my yt mama

Carolyn Nakagawa

Nakagawa’s review, like Eng’s collection, is a beautiful mess, and I mean that in the best of ways. Too often, as readers and critics (myself included, as an academic), we are compelled to distill the teleology of a narrative or the technical (if emotional) center of a poem. But Canadian imperialism leaves the Indigenous land and lives it plunders in ruins, and it does so too to everyone tenuously surviving under White supremacy. This review feels like a collaborative effort between Nakagawa and Eng to guide us through a reading practice for our time, and the creative process of imagining a decolonial future.

 

 

Long form review:

Winner: Marilyn Dumont, “Whose Voice Are You Resounding?” from Arc 92

Marilyn DumontAs I read and re-read my submissions, I found myself circling back to Marilyn Dumont’s essay over and over again. What dazzles me about Dumont’s meditation on bilingualism, indigeneity, and poetry is how she weaves the feeling of the body through the experience of lyrical sound: a tremble, baby-speak, laughter, vibrato. We know this affect in our body, and yet, through Dumont’s important interventions, we fundamentally do not. For Dumont, poetry, like her review essay, demands that we not only read. We should listen and respond.

 


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..cover of Arc 92, which is mostly blue and green

 

This year’s feature review winner is Marilyn Dumont, for “Whose Voice Are You Resounding?” from Arc 92.


 

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cover of Mercedes Eng's my yt mama

 

 

 

The brief review winner is Carolyn Nakagawa, for the online review of Mercedes Eng’s my yt mama.

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