Summary – Winnipeg’s North End is a neighbourhood of colourful birds, stately elms, and wily rivers. It’s where a brother’s disappearance is trivialized because he is Aboriginal, where girls share secrets, cigarettes and stories of love, and where a young mother watches her daughters as they play in the park.
Comment from the peer assessment committee – In spare, minimalist language, North End Love Songs attends to the demands of Indigenous and European poetics, braiding an elegant journey that takes us from Winnipeg’s North End out into the world. We enter the undocumented lives of its citizens and celebrate them through Katherena Vermette’s beautiful poems.
Summary – Presented like a botanical treatise, Pour les désespérés seulement cultivates hope. “General Botany, Catalogue of Flowers, Herbarium One, Herbarium Two and Consignment” (translation). Thus reads nature up close: the everyday gestures, the endangered species, the poems lost and burnt and that final word we have not spoken, we who had dreamt of a more human world.
Comment from the peer assessment committee – Pour les désespérés seulement by René Lapierre is a book for those who do not turn a blind eye to the often desperate state of our world. A collection that brings us back to what really is and that evokes, in counterpoint, nature and botany, giving us a glimpse of ‘the infinitesimal joy that watches over us.’
Summary – Dickens meets Deadwood in this bold murder mystery set in a remote gold-mining frontier town in nineteenth-century New Zealand, in which three unsolved crimes link the fates and fortunes of twelve men. Part mystery, part fantastical love story, and full of diabolical twists and turns, The Luminaries reveals the ways our interconnected lives shape our destinies.
Comment from the peer assessment committee – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is an entire narrative universe with its own mysterious cosmology. This exhilarating feat of literary design dazzles with masterful storytelling. Each character is a planet – complex and brilliantly revealed. Precise sensual prose illuminates greed, fear, jealousy, longing – all that it means to be human.
Summary – This collection features characters who are in love with life, whether it is beginning, ending, or starting over – as lighthearted as a spring day and the chatter of cousins at a wedding, or as subtle as autumn light and the deliciousness of snuggling in bed. An unfaithful father, a widowed lover, stray dogs and other evocative figures reveal a fragile and touching humanity. In this great celebration of the senses, love and death dance cheek to cheek
Summary – This is the first biography of P.K. Page, a brilliant 20th-century poet and fine artist, who becomes one of Canada’s best-loved and most influential writers. The product of over a decade’s research and writing, the book is both the captivating story of a remarkable woman and a major contribution to the study of Canada’s literary and artistic history.
Comment from the peer assessment committee – Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page by Sandra Djwa is a compelling portrait of a complex woman who pushed boundaries in both her art and her life. An insightful discussion of the power of her poetry, the book also illuminates Canada’s literary history in its formative years.
Summary – After 35 years of teaching literature, Yvon Rivard reflects on this profession of sharing and the awakening of desire. If teaching is a love story, it is because knowledge and love follow the same subconscious desire: to escape death by allowing the mystery of the world and the beauty and wonder of people and things to elevate our gaze and our thoughts. The author looks at the risky question of pedagogical Eros through an examination of works that ultimately pose the fundamental question of good and evil.
Comment from the peer assessment committee – What can literature tell us about teaching and its unavoidable dimension of the erotic? This is the thorny and audacious question tackled by Yvon Rivard. In luminous prose, the complex discussion in Aimer, enseigner underscores the importance, for teachers, of disappearing into the very light that they conjure.