Brenda Leifso, David O’Meara, Monty Reid – shortlisted for Lampman-Scott 2009 Award
Lampman-Scott 2009 Award Short List Announced. The Arc Poetry Society is pleased to announce the three finalists for the 2009 Lampman-Scott Award for Poetry. This award honours the poetry and friendship of Archibald Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott. Their literary friendship helped foster Ottawa’s now thriving and diverse literary community. Like its predecessor, the Archibald Lampman Award, the Lampman-Scott Award recognizes an outstanding book of English-language poetry by an author living in the National Capital Region published within the previous calendar year. The esteemed judges for the 2009 competition were Mark Abley, Meredith Quartermain, and Sandy Shreve.
The three finalists for the 2009 Award are Brenda Leifso for Daughters of Men (London, ON: Brick Books, 2008), David O’Meara for Noble Gas Penny Black (London, ON: Brick Books, 2008), and Monty Reid for The Luskville Reductions (London, ON: Brick Books, 2008).
A debut from a new voice in Canadian poetry, Daughters of Men explores the secrets of a rural Albertan childhood with unflinching honest and exquisite language. What is hidden beneath the mundane becomes mythic in these poems, what lies beneath the ordinary, extraordinary. Judge Mark Abley writes that in “blending the mythic with the rawly personal, Leifso shows considerable promise.” Meridith Quartermain adds that “ Leifso uses wide-ranging formal strategies to develop challenging subject matter and broader social issues, with sensitivity and humour. Her writing is thoughtful and tight; her imagery is fresh; her rhythms, sound-patterns and pacing of line-breaks are consistently exciting. “ Sandy Shreve notes that “Leifso has a deft hand with language, poetic devices … and traditional form. She’s especially good at evoking mood and memory with apt, precise images … And she is capable of taking us into and through difficult territory with both insight and compassion.”
Many of the poems in Noble Gas, Penny Black explore the subject of departure and arrival, an ongoing theme in David O’Meara’s work. Travel-being between places, in stations and airports and unfamiliar cities-creates a psychological, emotional space rife with reassessment, where the individual dwells simultaneously in the future and in the past. According to Abley “These poems crackle with energy. Many of them are beautifully shaped, revealing an unobtrusive mastery of poetic craft.” Of this book Shreve writes that “Less really is more! David O’Meara’s Noble Gas, Penny Black, is as close to a perfectly gathered collection of poems as I’ve read.” Shreve goes on to say that O’Meara’s poetry “moves quietly, through precise images and stanzas, to reach into your heart and hold your attention.” This book goes onto my select shelf of all-time favourites.
Monty Reid’s The Luskville Reductions records a year in the life of a small Quebec town and the marriage that disintegrates there. While a book about loss, it is also a book about the state of becoming that coexists with change, the imbalance that for a time makes everything lucid, all the details adding up to much more than only an “us.” The visible goes beyond mere facts in these poems, transformed into the deeply seen – and therefore sacred. Abley calls this book “Mordant, quick-witted, heartfelt, often very sad, Reid’s elegy for a long marriage is all the more universal for being so deeply personal.” Quartermain writes that “In a tone of droll melancholy, Reid explores the little ironies and bigger ironies of solitary human sojourn on planet earth. It is smoothly put together and easy to read…” Shreve comments that these poems employ “a spare, yet vivid language in technically accomplished free-verse poems, many of which are graced with original metaphors and imagery. A wry sense of humour provides some nice interludes.”
The winner of the $1,500 2009 Lampman-Scott Award will be announced during the Ottawa Book Awards on October 20th, 2009. For more information on this event please see http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/arts/funding_awards/book_awards/index_en.html, and for more information on the Lampman-Scott, or any other Arc Poetry Society projects please refer to www.arcpoetry.ca.