Awards: CAA Poetry Award unofficial “shortlist”

July 17, 2008

I received a lovely letter and citation from DC Reid of British Columbia, who wrote to tell me he’d been one of two judges for the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award, a prize that doesn’t publish a shortlist (excellent poet Asa Boxer won, so congratulations to him), and that my 2007 book, The Rush to Here, had made it to the top five.

It’s extremely kind and classy of Mr. Reid to write, so I send my thanks and regards. I also note that he’s bang-on about the importance of shortlists, especially in the poetry world in Canada, where chances for recognition are few and far between.

His letter is excerpted below.

…I read your spectacular book, the rush to here, as a juror on the CAA Award for a book of poetry from 2007.

The judging was blind, as in neither I nor the other person knew who the other was, nor had any contact. After battling through 103 books, both of us put your book on our individual top 10 list. Subsequently your book made it to the top five short list. So both of us thought a great deal of your work.

While your book was not the ultimate winner, I wanted to let you know that you made it to the top five. I asked the CAA to publish a shortlist, as that is pretty much just as good, and is important to writers. They declined for 2007.

But I wanted to reach out and let you know because we poets tend to exist in our corners not knowing whether we have connected with anyone out there. It’s a confidence thing for following books; hence my reason for sending this letter….

Well put, I think. And here is his citation, copied in full from his website dcreid.ca

the rush to here – George Murray, Nightwood Editions

At once recognizable as a great book, the rush to here, effortlessly explores the sonnet in all of its permutations and is so neat in its execution, so Shakespearian in its lush authority that it sneaks up on a reader and takes him/her by the throat. There are quotable completely-full-of-themselves epigrams in each and every poem. From Silence is a Dead Language: What you’re looking for is ingenuity / enough to let ambition go: to find / yourself building the simple, the clever, / suddenly satisfied with what’s appearing // at the ends of your much-surprised hands. This is supple, sure, intelligent swelling of incandescence abundance. What impresses is the magic of great poetry captured in one of the western hemisphere’s millennia-long traditional forms, overleaping in one easy – for Murray – step one current retrograde neo-conservative stream in Canadian poetry that holds up structure as the only important consideration in poetry. The rush to here blows that movement completely apart even though it’s not intending to. This guy is so smart so sparklingly clear in his poetic invocations that every line rings as clear as a glass tinged by a fingernail. You want the music to continue and continue in its arpeggio octaves.

So very kind and generous of him to advocate for a shortlist. Maybe CAA will change their minds in the future?

One comment

  1. […] shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize for his new Nightwood collection The Rush to Here and unofficially shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Prize. He read in Ottawa August 26 at the Tree Reading […]

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