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. The award carries a $1,000 prize. It is presented each year at the League’s Annual General Meeting in May or June, with the shortlist announced in April.
The Raymond Souster Award is given for a book of poetry by a League of Canadian Poets member (all levels, dues paid) published in the preceding year. The award honours Raymond Souster, an early founder of the League of Canadian Poets. The award carries a $1,000 prize. It is presented each year at the LCP Annual Poetry Festival and Conference in June, with the shortlist announced in April.
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. The Award carries a prize of $1,000 and is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. It is presented each year at the League’s Annual General Meeting in May or June, with the shortlist announced in April.
Today's book of poetry:
seldom seen road. Jenna Butler. NeWest Press. Edmonton, Alberta. 2013.
The poems in Jenna Butler's seldom seen road are a loving testament to the hard life the prairie demands of those who live there.
Butler employs a sparse and clear language that gives the very dirt under her feet a new vocabulary. Can poems be a joyous lament, a bittersweet celebration — you bet they can and Jenna Butler excels at putting the reader at the edge of their emotions — exactly where they are most vulnerable.
(In Memoriam, G. Johnson)
they left Dorothy in the 30s
tailspin of the Dustbowl
farm sunk under rabbitbrush
hitched farther west
slung precariously at her back they drove
cattle worked the threshing crews
retired to a northern city
more dark water than
they'd ever seen & thinlimbed pines
eighty-five dodging Alzheimer's
he brings her south again
to finish where he started
she scours the porch
at the senior's residence
thinks forty years of northern spruce
nothing to fasten on here but
sunbruised petals she spots & loves hard
seldom seen road is also the manifesto of a secret optimist. There is much hope in Butler's world and she has found it on the land, the harsh and beautiful land.
Seldom Seen Road
what is true about this land
that prairie is scant
but wears it well
snowdrifts slung like mink
that all signs last
grasslands a skein of bruises
wagon trails &
& that against earth
everything is transitory
soddies & clapboard
railbed sown under
sun catches your eye like
a backward glance
alights moves on
Butler has produced an almanac, a social history and a family archive. It is up to the reader to decide what role the prairie plays in heredity.
seldom seen road is full of subtle and rewarding poetry, a deep horizon line.
creek ducks the boundary fence
leaves it slackjawed & dangling
spring the cattle
wallow in runoff mud
play their spines along the wire
up the coulee
ironstone peters to cactus
the onions are found
by scent bite
of trodden leaves
bulbs unearthed like molars
crepuscular canyon light
wild taste of
earth & dark water
coyote on a lip of land ochre
moon saddling predawn sky
JENNA BUTLER was born in Norwich, England, close to the North Sea. Her family emigrated to Canada in the early eighties, initially moving to Toronto and finally settling in Alberta. The sense of belonging to, and simultaneously not quite fitting into, two places —England and Canada— has heavily influenced her work, which often focuses on the varied landscapes of these two countries.
Butler holds BA and B.Ed degrees from the University of Alberta, in addition to an MA and Ph.D in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia (UK). She is the author of two previous trade books in poetry, Aphelion (NeWest Press, 2010) and Wells (University of Alberta Press, 2012), as well as ten short collections with small presses in Canada, the United States, and Europe.
Butler teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Grant MacEwan University and divides her time between Edmonton, England, and the small farm she runs with her husband in Alberta's north country.
FROM THE BACK COVER:
"Jenna Butler brings a fresh set of eyes and a startling lyric language to these poems, a wonderful re-imaging of these prairies and of the people whose stories are part of our history. One of her narrators declares, "always/out here I know where I stand" and Butler's poems ring with the same conviction."
Glen Sorestad, author of Leaving Holds Me Here
"Seldom Seen Road dances readers to new ways of knowing; glimpses of the remarkable but often unremarked shadow sides of beauty and pain oscillate with grace and verve. Jenna Butler's fine eye and ear are the best of companions."
Barbara Langhorst, author of Restless White Fields
Jenna Butler reads a poem from Wells