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Poets Who Have Won the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers

The Writers’ Trust of Canada recently announced the winner of the annual Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers. Originally established by Robin Pacific, the prize is presented to an emerging Canadian writer who is part of the LGBTQ community. Over the years, an impressive number of poets have received the prize, so we thought we’d celebrate them! Here they are, along with the title of their most recently published collection of poetry.

Arielle Twist
Disintegrate / Dissociate (Arsenal Pulp Press)
This debut collection unravels the complexities of human relationships after death and metamorphosis, exploring, with both rage and tenderness, the parameters of grief, trauma, displacement, and identity.

Ben Ladouceur 
Otter (Coach House Books)
Moving from the absurdity of the First World War to the chaos of today’s cities, where men share beds, bottles of ouzo and shade from willow trees, these poems ask questions. Otter fails, with style, to find answers.

Kai Cheng Thom 
a place called No Homeland (Arsenal Pulp Press)
In these fierce yet tender narrative poems, Kai Cheng Thom draws equally from memory and mythology to create new maps of gender, race, sexuality, and violence, where the bodies of the marginalized are celebrated, and survival songs are sung.

Leah Horlick
For Your Own Good (Caitlin Press)
A fictionalized autobiography, the poems in this collection illustrate the narrator’s survival of a domestic and sexual violence in a lesbian relationship. Horlick also draws from a legacy of feminist, Jewish and lesbian writers against violence: epigraphs from the works of Adrienne Rich and Minnie Bruce Pratt act as touchstones alongside references to contemporary writers, such as Daphne Gottlieb and Michelle Tea. (Moldovan Hotel, forthcoming from Brick, 2021)

Alex Leslie
Vancouver for Beginners (Book*hug Press)
In these poems you will traverse a city lined with rivers, not streets. Memory traps and tourist traps reveal themselves, and the ocean glints, elusive, in the background. Here there are many Vancouvers and no Vancouver, a city meant for elsewhere after the flood has swept through, a ghost story, an elegy, a love song.

Amber Dawn
How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Raw and fiery, this story, told in prose and poetry, offers a frank, multifaceted portrait of the author’s experiences hustling the streets of Vancouver. At the crux of this autobiographical narrative is the tender celebration of poetry and literature, which—as the title suggests—acted as a lifeline during her most pivotal moments.

Nancy Jo Cullen
Untitled Child (Frontenac House)
This confessional collection takes an unflinching look at the path of a life’s destruction due to addiction, to create a harrowing chronicle of bereavement. Untitled Child examines the trajectory of the end of the marriage between the two women and the author tries to understand her role in a series of painful events.

Zoe Whittall
Precordial Thump (Exile Editions)
A fixation on medical language and the crucial aspects of what it means to be human, to love, and to be loved are woven throughout this collection. Featuring compelling lesbian themes, this is a humorous book of self-discovery that conjures up all the joy, toughness, and melancholy of being a woman, both elegant and scruffy at once. (Check out The Emily Valentine Poems, while you’re here!)

Michael V. Smith
Bad Ideas (Nightwood Editions)
Bad Ideas is a testament to how an altered perspective effects change, how stories can be recast. The collection forms itself into an exercise in which optimism is a practiced art recaptured in dreams and prayers and combined to acknowledge the unknowable, the contradictory, the ungraspable. Hyperbolic and sincere, this collection brawls with the unquantifiable themes of family, loneliness, and love.

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