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Rachel Rose Wins the Pat Lowther Memorial Award

Posted: June 8, 2013

Rachel RoseVancouver poet Rachel Rose has won another award for her latest book, Song and Spectacle. On June 8th, the League of Canadian Poets presented her with the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, which is given to a female poet in Canada and honours Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. Earlier this year, Song and Spectacle also won the prestigious Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry.

Song and Spectacle is the Rose’s third book of poetry. The judges for the Pat Lowther Award (Kate Braid, Gay Allison and Marsha Barber) described the collection as “a fierce appeal to both the heart and the mind” and commented that Rose "lures you to come closer as she talks about anything, everything – from rain to death to breastfeeding – and you come away feeling somehow wiser, and lighter.” (

In Song and Spectacle, Rose’s craft as a lyricist intersects with a deep notion of the world around her. Her words provoke an awareness of one’s self and, at the same time, create a sense of intimacy with the greater world. She has an extraordinary ability to combine the very personal with the universal. The poems touch on the truths of lesbian motherhood, the effects that suicide has on those left behind, the pains of child birth and the broader questions of myth and science—and the efforts and failures of both to fulfill notions of living and dying.

Rose’s fierce refrains cry out with the joy of being loved and loving—as a mother, child, lover and friend in a nurturing, yet volatile world. Throughout her verse lies a profound respect for the ever-changing body—one that is constantly being sacrificed for love and life, or to death, disease and abuse. Although Rose’s words are penetrating, they are not without a sense of humour and a healthy dose of playfulness.

Rachel Rose is a writer whose work has appeared in journals in Canada, the US, New Zealand and Japan. Her first book, Giving My Body to Science (McGill/Queen’s University Press, 1999) was also a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award, as well as the Gerald Lampert Award and the Grand Prix du Livre de Montreal. It won the Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Award. Her second book, Notes on Arrival and Departure, was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2005. Winner of the Peterson Memorial Prize for poetry and the Bronwen Wallace award for fiction, Rose holds a BA in English from McGill University and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. 

The other finalist of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award were Soul Mouth by Marilyn Bowering (Exile Editions), Monkey Ranch by Julie Bruck (Brick Books), The Book of Marvels by Lorna Crozier (Greystone Books), Slow Curve Out by Maureen Scott Harris (Pedlar Press) and A Grain of Rice by Evelyn Lau (Oolichan Books).