“Emily Nilsen questions how we name, categorize, and ultimately come to agree on the existence of the world and our relationship to it; she thrives in the impossible.” – From the Jurors
On Saturday, June 16, the League of Canadian Poets announced Emily Nilsen’s Otolith as the winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award honouring a first book of poetry by a Canadian writer, at an awards luncheon held at the Harbourfront Centre during the Canadian Writers’ Summit in Toronto.
This award, held in memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized author tours and supported work by new writers, usually carries a $1,000 prize; however, thanks to increased funding, this year’s cash prizes have doubled, so Emily Nilsen will be the first to take home a $2,000 prize. Sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets, this award has been presented annually since 1981.
Otolith, published by Goose Lane Editions’ icehouse poetry imprint, is a “striking debut collection” (Toronto Star) that combines a scientist's precision and a poet's sensitivity in “an evocative paean to settings named and anonymous” (Canadian Literature). Otolith — the ear stone — is a series of bones that govern our sense of gravity, balance, and direction to help us orient ourselves. Emily Nilsen attempts a similar feat in poetry with lyrical and nostalgic meditations on growth and decay, geological time, place, nature, and relationships. “These poems help you not feel so alone in the world as you become alive with self-recognition” (Atlantic Books Today).
Otolith was chosen as the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award winner by jurors Laura McRae, Sandra Ridley, and Clea Roberts. Other poetry books that were up for the award included This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt (Frontenac House), Faunics by Jack Davis (Pedlar Press), Thin Air of the Knowable by Wendy Donawa (Brick Books), The Rules of the Kingdom by Julie Paul (McGill-Queen’s University Press), and Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang (McClelland & Stewart). The awards luncheon was hosted by Toronto-based poet Tanya Neumeyer.
Otolith was also longlisted for the League of Canadian Poets Pat Lowther Memorial Award for poetry by a Canadian woman.
About Emily Nilsen
Emily Nilsen was born and raised in Vancouver. She has published poems in PRISM international, Lake, and the Goose, and in a chapbook entitled Place, No Manual. Nilsen was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, after having been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.
To learn more about Otolith, click here.