Winners of the Pat Lowther & Gerald Lampert Memorial Awards Announced

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From our friends at the League of Canadian Poets:

The winners of the 2011 Pat Lowther and Gerald Lampert Memorial Awards were announced on Saturday, June 11, at a special event at the LCP Poetry Festival and Conference held at The Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Toronto. Anna Swanson is the winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for the book The Nights Also (Tightrope Books) and Evelyn Lau has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for Living Under Plastic (Oolichan Books).

The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award is given in the memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized authors' tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers. The award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year and carries a $1,000 prize. The Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman published in the preceding year, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. This award also carries a $1,000 prize.

Judges' Comments

Anna Swanson's The Nights Also is a collection of poetry that reads like a satisfying whole, as it charts the feelings and thoughts that a person struggling with illness faces. Illness, as Sontag has observed, can be a metaphor — but it can also be a fact — and here, the poet handles the difficult, potentially bathetic subject matter expertly. At times lyrical, at times experimental, the poetry veers between comedy and philosophy, finding a powerful voice for truth-telling. The opening poem is beautiful, as is the last. In "Any Meaning" she asks: "If illness was a child, will everyone ever love it enough?" We found this collection exceptionally well-structured, with a moving, striking style — an impressive, humane debut.

Living Under Plastic by Evelyn Lau is a journey into illness and death, pain and love, hunger and sacrifice and Lau points an unrelenting search light on them all. She exposes her mother's hunger, her father's blindness, her family's history; her own personal strength. She writes about people compelled to be indifferent:

But it's true you once said that some men
kill women with knives or guns,
while others kill them silently, over many years,
and no one knows or cares
to prosecute the crime.

Living Under Plastic is a story about ghosts from the past, death of a parent, time spent with friends, a terrified child, dim sum, a man so devastated by the death of his wife that he can't go on living. Lau writes about her world. The book is personal. It's global.

Congratulations to all the authors, and many thanks to the jurors for their hard work on this year's awards!

For the complete shortlist and author bios, visit the League of Canadian Poets' website.

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