It’s an exciting day in the Goose Lane Editions office! Alongside the icehouse poetry board, we’re delighted to announce the inaugural Claire Harris Poetry Prize. The biennial prize will be awarded to a full-length debut poetry collection by a writer who is Black, Indigenous, or from another racialized community. The winning manuscript will be published under the icehouse poetry imprint.
Our team is especially excited to work alongside one of our favourite authors and poets, Kazim Ali, who will judge the inaugural prize submissions. Ali’s latest collection, Sukun: New and Selected Poems, was published by icehouse poetry in September.
“The Claire Harris Poetry Prize is a tremendous opportunity for emerging poets from racialized communities, helping them to publish their first book as well as share their work across Canada,” said Ali. “Claire Harris's poetry was plangent and pure, summoning in musical lines a clear-eyed and powerful vision of a transnational life.”
Named for the Black Trinidadian Canadian poet, the Claire Harris Poetry Prize honours Harris’s legacy as a generous mentor, provocative thinker, and singular voice in Canadian poetry. In addition to a publishing contract, the winning poet will also receive a cash prize of $1,000 and public readings in at least three Canadian cities.
About Claire Harris
Claire Harris is a decorated Black Trinidadian Canadian poet who emigrated to Canada in 1966. Her poetry is known for verse techniques such as contrasting prose and poetry and for alternating voices, ranging from British English to Trinidadian Creole. Harris’s innovative poetry dramatized and made public the issues of injustice in colonial and post-colonial settings and the psychological struggles experienced by racialized women who face violence and oppression. She mentored numerous young poets as both a teacher and an editor at Dandelion and blue buffalo.
Harris’s eight books of poetry include Fables from the Women’s Quarters and Translation into Fiction, both released in 1984. Her later work, which included Drawing Down a Daughter and She, combined prose and poetry to give urgency to the search for a cultural home. During her lifetime, her work won international acclaim; was widely anthologized in Canada, the US, and abroad; and was translated into German and Hindi. Harris won the Commonwealth Award for Poetry for the Americas Region, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Award for poetry, the Alberta Culture Poetry Prize, and the Alberta Culture Special Award. She was also a finalist for a Governor General’s Award in 1992.
About Kazim Ali
icehouse poetry is honoured that Kazim Ali has agreed to be the inaugural Claire Harris Poetry Prize judge. A celebrated poet, editor, and essayist, Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian, Iranian, and Egyptian descent. He spent most of his early life in Canada and now lives in the United States, where he teaches at the University of California, San Diego.
Ali is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, fiction, essays, and cross-genre texts. His collections of poetry include Sukun: New and Selected Poems; Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; and The Far Mosque, winner of the Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award. His books of non-fiction include Silver Road; Fasting for Ramadan; and Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water, winner of the Banff Mountain Book Award for Environmental Literature. Ali is also an accomplished translator and has edited several anthologies and books of criticism.
About icehouse poetry and Goose Lane Editions
Goose Lane Editions was founded in 1954 as Fiddlehead Poetry Books to provide the opportunity
for Canadian poets to have their work published in book form. Over the years, the press has published more than five hundred volumes of poetry under the Fiddlehead Poetry Books, Goose Lane Editions,
and icehouse poetry imprints, including original collections, volumes of new and selected poems, and cloth-bound editions of collected works. The press is proud to have been the publisher of poets such as Kazim Ali, Herménégilde Chiasson (in translation), George Elliott Clarke, Kwame Dawes, Pamela Mordecai, Soraya Peerbaye, Sue Sinclair, John Thompson, Douglas Walbourne-Gough, and (of course) Claire Harris. The icehouse poetry imprint is overseen by a national board of published poets.