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Laisha Rosnau Wins People’s Poetry Prize!

Posted: November 3, 2005

 Notes on Leaving, the debut poetry collection written by Laisha Rosnau and published by Nightwood Editions, has won the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry.

“I was thrilled to find out that Notes on Leaving received the award,” says Laisha Rosnau. “I’ll admit, I was surprised as well since it was nominated in the company of books written by some of my favourite poets who are also more established. To be recognized for my first book of poetry is an absolute honour.  I think many assume that poetry is best left in the realm of university departments or past centuries and that is something I would love to see change. When someone who doesn’t usually read poetry—a great aunt, a friend who is a scientist—reads my work and lets me know they enjoyed it and can relate to it, it is always a great compliment.”  

The AcoNotes on Leaving coverrn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry, formerly known as the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award, was established in 1987 and honours the memory and work of Canadian poets Milton Acorn and Ted Plantos. In life, Acorn worked as a fireman, freight handler and longshoreman and deemed himself a troubadour of the working class. He performed at coffee houses in his early career and wrote extensively from the 1950s up until his death in 1986. He was considered one of the most accessible Canadian literary figures of his time, often taking new poets under his wing, one of whom was Plantos. The award recognizes poetry written with the common reader in mind. 

Notes on Leaving is a debut poetry collection that is every bit as captivating, emotive and razor-sharp as Laisha Rosnau’s bestselling first novel The Sudden Weight of Snow. Rosnau’s poignant poems address life in a startlingly direct and honest voice, employing a robust combination of jaw-dropping forthrightness and delicately crafted verse.

The language of Notes on Leaving is brusque, bright and instinctively fluid: lines and words flow and merge as naturally as they collide head-on. In the world-weary persona of someone who has always found herself on the run (“my mind was farther away than farm and field. . .”), and “prone to breakdowns / of all kins,” Rosnau energetically conveys sexually charged and angst-ridden desires to urgently abandon a small-town upbringing, among various other lives and identities.

She convincingly presents these primal urges as strikingly and sensuously familiar to us all, “tracing a route down your torso, thrumming south, / the highway swelling with each town, until / you round the last curve, a crescendo, and cross / the river to a place where the city meets itself.” Cutting through time zones that encompass the rural and urban, the remembered and the forgotten, Rosnau reminds us to “pay attention to your surroundings,” to “watch for potential roadkill,” and to “compare scars” along the way.

Laisha Rosnau was born in Quebec and grew up in British Columbia ’s Okanagan Valley . Her highly successful first novel, The Sudden Weight of Snow, was released by McClelland & Stewart in 2002. Her poetry, short fiction and non-fiction have been published in journals and anthologies in , the and and a limited edition chapbook of her poetry, Getaway Girl, was published by Greenboathouse Books in 2002. Laisha Rosnau currently lives in Prince George, BC.