Sonnet L’Abbé wins $4,000 bpNichol Chapbook Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Posted on November 18, 2017

Celebrating more than 30 years of recognizing excellence in Canadian poetry chapbooks

TORONTO – November 18, 2017 – The Meet the Presses Collective announced today 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.

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From “An H of a Night for bpNichol”

A Reminiscence

By Lola Lemire Tostevin

This post is a copy of Lola Lemire Tostevin’s beautiful presentation delivered as a part of Meet the Presses’ “An H of a Night for bpNichol” on October 17, 2017. We share this post with a big thanks to Tostevin for sharing her words that night, and for allowing us to share them again on our site. 

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I think it was in early 1986 when Philip McKenna from the Phoenix Foundation phoned to ask if I would meet with him and Barrie at a restaurant on St. Clair Avenue to discuss a new chapbook award the Foundation was sponsoring. It turned out that I was being brought in to serve as a judge, which lasted, in some capacity, from 1986 to about 2005, either as a judge or in selecting judges.

I was a little late arriving at the restaurant, having gone east instead of west—or vice versa—because I have no sense of direction. When I arrived, the guys were already seated at a white table-clothed table, the restaurant a large open space, the tables relatively close to one another, most of them occupied.

Some of you will remember that for the last few years of his life Barrie almost always wore blue velour outfits that Ellie made for him—loose top, loose pants, the blue velour the colour of bp’s eyes. As soon as I sat down, I noticed seams and interfacing sticking every which way from Barrie’s top. “Barrie,” I said, “your top is inside out.” At which Barrie immediately jumped up and proceeded to take off his top. He wasn’t wearing anything underneath. For those of you who knew Barrie, you know he wasn’t in the best of shape, but this didn’t matter to him. He stood in the middle of the restaurant taking his time turning his top inside in, then sat down, as if this was a perfectly acceptable social thing to do.

If anyone else had done this, I probably would have been mortified. But with Barrie, it didn’t matter. Friends accepted this kind of behaviour because we understood that Barrie was free from social conventions, especially if they inhibited. Those were there to be broken. He would break into song in a subway, break wind in a movie theatre loudly enough even the actors onscreen turned to the audience as if to say, “Excuse me?” But Barrie doing it was all right, because we understood that at one point in his life he had freed himself from anything he didn’t deem important, in order to make more room for what mattered most: his family, his creativity. In turn, his freedom allowed many of us to free ourselves to explore our creativity. We didn’t worry so much about what others might think, because he gave us the freedom to dare: dare to think outside the box; dare to write about it; such as in Barrie’s workshops that Nicholas Power and I attended for the better part of two winters in the early ’80s. Barrie knew that writers felt freer to experiment within smaller groups and in smaller formats like chapbooks, because within smallness lay the possibility of bigger things, perhaps an entire series of life-based books. You know, like a Martyrology. He knew that from those small groups and chapbooks the possibilities were endless.

Then . . . the man who freed himself from social conventions died at 44 years old. That was hardly fair, now, was it? Because a man who dies at 44 remains forever 44 years old, freed from all social conventions, while the rest of us get old, probably still trapped within social conventions. What a trickster. For a long time, I didn’t forgive him for that. Until, slowly, I realized it wasn’t really up to Barrie anymore; in fact, it may never have been up to Barrie to free us, not entirely. He’d known this all along. He knew. Nor was it up to him to free us from staying young; it was up to us to free ourselves from the idea of perpetual youth—just as language itself is old; just as language would be on the brink of dying, if it weren’t for poets, for writers. Writers work with a language that is so old it threatens to become a dead language. But the freedom to write a new poem, a story, not only frees language from getting old, it constitutes a kind of resurrection, so that it too can stay forever 44 years old. And just as we undergo different bodies over the course of a lifetime, we undergo different ways of writing. The writer’s job, no matter how young or old, is to give the essence of language an ever-changing body.

I, personally, will never be free enough to break into song in a subway, although I’ve hummed a few times. As for breaking wind in a movie theatre, well . . . but never loudly enough to stop actors on a screen. And for most of us who read here tonight, obviously we didn’t stay 44 years old. We moved on, doing our own kind of writing, sometimes ceding our place to younger writers who hopefully will keep this great bpNichol Chapbook Award going. And that’s OK, as long as they too keep language from perishing in the ever-growing dead clichés of public, political, and entertainment pablum; as long as they promise to protect language’s fragile and living body, even if at times it appears in public wearing an inside-out blue- velour outfit.

 

 

 

Shortlist for $4,000 bpNichol Chapbook Award Announced

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TORONTO – October 17, 2017 – Tonight, at a Toronto event paying tribute to the late poet bpNichol, the Meet the Presses collective announced the finalists for the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award. The prize, awarded annually since 1985, goes to the author of the best poetry chapbook – in the estimation of the judges – published in Canada in the previous year and submitted for consideration. It is named in honour of the late poet, novelist, mentor, and micropress publisher bpNichol (1944–1988).

The $4,000 prize purse, donated by an anonymous benefactor, makes this the richest annual literary award for a poetry chapbook, specified as a collection of no more than 48 pages. The publisher of the winning title also receives $500, thanks to an annual donation by Toronto writers Brian Dedora and Jim Smith.

Judges Helen Guri of Montréal, Québec, and Hoa Nguyen of Toronto, Ontario, chose the finalists from more than 60 submissions from across the country.

The finalists for the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award are:

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

The winner will be announced at 2 p.m. on November 18, 2017, at the annual Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market, open from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, in Toronto. The Market introduces the public to independent literary publishers of books, chapbooks, magazines, ephemera, and recordings generally not available in bookstores. The free event is curated by Meet the Presses, a volunteer literary collective devoted to showcasing the work of independent publishers of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction.

More details can be found at meetthepresses.wordpress.com.

For more information and interview opportunities, contact the publicist for Meet the Presses: Zarmina Rafi at rafi.zarmina@gmail.com

2016 Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market & bpNichol Chapbook Award Announcement

Saturday November 19, 2016 • 11am-4:30pm
Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre • 427 Bloor Street West

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The Meet the Presses collective is pleased to present its annual fall market on Saturday November 19, 2016 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

The Indie Literary Market is a curated event that showcases exciting literary presses and magazines, from some of the tiniest of micropresses to some of the biggest small presses, selling books, leaflets, broadsides, chapbooks, zines, journals, CDs, and more. The Market gives the general public an opportunity to peruse — and buy — some of the best of Canadian literature, much of which isn’t available in the ever-dwindling bookstores.
The Market will also feature the announcement of the winner of the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award! Shortlist will be announced soon!
Participating publishers and mags will be announced shortly.
Facebook event page can be found here.

 

2014 Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market & bpNichol Chapbook Award Announcement

Saturday, November 22, 11:30 am – 5 pm
The Tranzac Club, Toronto

The Meet the Presses collective presents the 2014 Indie Literary Market, where handpicked literary presses and magazines stand behind their work!
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 The Market will also feature the announcement of the winner of the 2014 bpNichol Chapbook Award! See the shortlist for 2014 here.

Participating publishers and mags tentatively include:

Above/Ground Press (Ottawa) • Mansfield Press (Toronto) • Proper Tales Press (Cobourg) • Pedlar Press (St. John’s) • Rampike (Windsor) • Apt. 9 Press (Ottawa) • Porcupine’s Quill (Erin) • Cough (Toronto) • Baseline Press (London) • Serif of Nottingham (Hamilton) • Frog Hollow (Victoria) • Coach House Books (Toronto) • Laurel Reed Books (Mt. Pleasant) • Gesture Press (Toronto) • Thee Hellbox Press (Kingston) • BookThug (Toronto) • Taddle Creek  (Toronto) • Sunnyoutside Press (Buffalo) • Little Brother Magazine (Toronto) • Biblioasis (Windsor) • Wolsak and Wynn (Hamilton) • Underwhich Editions (Toronto) • Imago/Red Iron (Toronto) • Junction Books (Toronto) • Phafours (Ottawa) • words(on)pages (Toronto) • OutWrites (Toronto)

Facebook event page here.

Meet the Presses announces its Fall 2013 Indie Literary Market

Meet the Presses is pleased to present its fall 2013 Indie Literary Market on Saturday, November 16, from noon to 4:30 pm at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Street) in Toronto.

The Indie Literary Market is a curated event that showcases about 25 exciting literary presses and magazines, from some of the tiniest of micropresses to some of the biggest small presses, selling books, leaflets, broadsides, chapbooks, zines, journals, CDs, and more. The Market gives the general public an opportunity to peruse — and buy — some of the best of Canadian literature, much of which isn’t available in the ever-dwindling bookstores.

The afternoon will also mark the announcement of the winner of the prestigious bpNichol Chapbook Award, which earns $2,000 for its author and $500 for its publisher.

So mark November 16 on your calendar. If you run a small literary press or magazine, and would like Meet the Presses to consider you for a table at this event, please send a detailed note to meetthepresses@gmail.com by early September — let us know what you publish and why you publish, and provide any links that will help us become familiar with your publications. You may just receive an invitation to take part in the Fall 2013 Indie Literary Market.