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The other poetry jury

For the second year in a row, the Ontario literary website Good Reports has put together a “runaway jury” to pick a winner from the Governor General’s Award shortlist in the poetry category. Good Reports proprietor Alex Good joined forces with poets Dani Couture and Shane Neilson to deliberate, and they all agreed on Barry Dempster’s The Burning Alphabet (Brick Books) as the best in show. “Dempster’s hospital poems and meditations on the death of his father were easily the high-points of feeling this year,” writes Good, “and his technique (in particular his use of imagery) was, quite consistently, the most effective and assured.”

The real GG jury, though, gave the prize to Anne Compton’s Processional (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) — a book that found little favour with the Good Reports crowd. “Since I learned of the result, I’ve scratched my head and tried to figure out how any sane jury could pick her. I’m at a loss,” writes Neilson. He also offers some general thoughts on the shortlist under consideration: “Most of the books of poetry published in Canada are bad. The GG jury tried to find five this year that weren’t, and they failed. One can’t even say that the books failed memorably. For me, this shortlist was one big snooze.”

Related links:
Click here for the Good Reports site’s “Runaway Jury”