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 Brecken Hancock.
This year’s Confederation Poets Prize winner is Luke Hathaway’s “As the hart panteth after the water brooks…”, from Arc 94...
This year’s judge, Brecken Hancock, had this to say about the winning poem:
In 12 incredibly short lines, Luke Hathaway has captured how we survive and thrive by chance, by lucky accident. These spare lines take the reader on a profound journey with the speaker who has gone “uphill to the well / where I went, as I thought // for my water” only to find an utterly new form of thirst and its remedy waiting there instead. A previously unrecognized, but life-threatening, form of dehydration is alleviated (in what feels like the nick of time) by the startling discovery of a source to quench it. Rather than dwell on what had previously been missing, a sorrowful lack, the poem ends in affirmation—communicating a resonant relief, and, beyond that, the joy and ecstasy that can finally be embodied and expressed when our deepest needs are recognized and met.
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 Susan Gillis..
This year, we have two Honorable Mentions to shoutout: CAConrad’s process piece that shares a trip down the generative lane to a brilliant poem, and Dominik Parisien’s audacious and provocative polemic on poetry and disability.
This year’s judge, Susan Gillis, had this to say about the winning reviews:
Reading the reviews and essays published in Arc in 2021, I found a richness of conversation: between reviewer and book, between essayist and reader, and among all three. I followed well-laid-out arguments and rode waves of impassioned manifesto. I found new perspectives on work I knew and compelling reasons to look for work I hadn’t yet encountered. I learned how certain books and poems and experiences with language mattered to several poets in their formative years. I eavesdropped on process and cheered enthusiastic fervour. Over and over, the pleasures of words and ideas, of someone else’s thinking, engaged my mind and heart. That Arc makes room for all these genres, styles and voices is admirable.
The feature-length essay I finally chose for this award studies poetry and the page with depth and insight, illuminating both texts and poetics. The winning brief review could serve as a masterclass on concision, expression and feeling in the service of insightful argument.
This year’s feature review winner is Klara du Plessis, for “Verso Versus Verso: Jordan Abel, Dionne Brand, and the Left-Hand Page.”
The brief review winner is Tanis MacDonald, “Dealing the Deck: Lauren Turner’s The Only Card in a Deck of Knives.”