L’Abbé Wins 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award

Cover of Anima Candensis by Sonnet L’Abbé

The Meet the Presses Collective announced on 18 November 2017 that Sonnet L'Abbé (Vancouver Island, British Columbia) has won the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award for Anima Canadensis published by Junction Books. This is the richest annual literary award for a poetry chapbook.

The prize was awarded at the 2017 Indie Literary Market, held at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre in Toronto. In her acceptance speech for the $4,000 award, Sonnet L'Abbé stated:

My lyric verse has always searched for satisfying ways to put the experience of being an English-speaking, Canadian-born Black-Indo Caribbean/French woman into words on a page. Concrete and sound poetries, which bpNichol helped make such a strong tradition in Canada, expanded the number of ways I could do that. There's definitely a bit of bp's vibe in this chapbook! 

Thanks to a generous annual donation from Toronto writers Brian Dedora and Jim Smith, the publisher of the winning work, Junction Books, also received $500. Carleton Wilson remarked:

I am very excited that Sonnet’s excellent poetry is being honoured with the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award. It was a pleasure to work with Sonnet on her chapbook, and I thank her for trusting me to publish her work. Thank you, also, to the Meet the Presses collective for administering this award, and to the donors of the award.

Judges Helen Guri (Montreal, Quebec) and Hoa Nguyen (Toronto, Ontario) chose the prize finalists from over 60 submissions from across the country. This year’s other shortlisted poets are:

Dana Claxton. The Patient Storm. above/ground press
Doris Fiszer. The Binders. Tree Press
Stevie Howell. Summer. Desert Pets Press
Nanci Lee. Preparation. FreeFall Literary Society of Calgary
Renee Sarojini Saklikar. After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees. above/ground press

Of Sonnet L'Abbé's winning collection, the judges remarked:

“Junction Books' exquisitely rendered publication of Sonnet L’Abbé's Anima Canadensis begins as queries, a Permanent Residents’ Test. Rather than offering standard questions that situate and center 'angloculture'---ones such as 'who’s on the five dollar bill?'--L'Abbe's test insists on an engagement with Indigeneity: Can we identify a particular native flower? Can we "prove [our] ability to love"? Inventing her own mode of wildcrafting, L'Abbe approaches with curiosity, tenderness, and contemporary imagination the question of what it means for us all—people, animals, plants, rocks, chemicals, technology, even bacteria—to be here together on this land at this moment in history. The result is a vision for accountability that nourishes and sustains, a transformation of relations that enriches.”

About the Prize:

Awarded annually since its establishment in 1985, the bpNichol Chapbook Award goes to the author of the best poetry chapbook – a collection of no more than 48 pages – published in Canada in the previous year. The award is named in honour of the late poet, novelist, and micropress publisher bpNichol, who was the original co-judge of the award 30 years ago.

About Meet the Presses:

Meet the Presses is a volunteer literary collective devoted to organizing public events showcasing the work of independent  publishers of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The Indie Literary Market is a curated event that introduces the public to independent literary publishers and authors of books, chapbooks, magazines, broadsheets, and recordings that are largely not available in bookstores. The Collective is proud to administer the bpNichol Chapbook Award each year, supporting those who make the artistic choice to publish in chapbook form.

For more information and interview opportunities, contact:

                             Zarmina Rafi at rafi.zarmina@gmail.com

More information can be found at bpnichol.ca and meetthepresses.wordpress.com.