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Contest

The Critics’ Desk Award & Confederation Poets Prize Winners for 2021

Congratulations to all our 2021 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 Brecken Hancock.

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cover of Arc 94

 

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This year’s Con­fed­er­a­tion Poets Prize winner is Luke Hathaway’s “As the hart panteth after the water brooks…”, from Arc 94...

 

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an unsmiling image of Luke Hathaway in a blue shirtThis 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.

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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 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.

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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.

 

a black and white image of Klara du Plessis with eyes and mouth closed

 

 

This year’s feature review winner is Klara du Plessis, for “Verso Versus Verso: Jordan Abel, Dionne Brand, and the Left-Hand Page.”

 

 

a colourful image of Tanis MacDonald, who has black glasses and purple hair, looking up at the camera with a smirk

 

 

The brief review winner is Tanis MacDonald, “Dealing the Deck: Lauren Turner’s The Only Card in a Deck of Knives.”