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Rose and Denham on GG Shortlist

Posted: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 9:45am

Poets Rachel Rose and Joe Denham have been shortlisted for Canada's most prestigious poetry prize, the Governor General's Award for Poetry, it was announced today.

Rose is nominated for Marry & Burn (Harbour Publishing) and Denham for Regeneration Machine (Nightwood Editions).

Marry & BurnThe fourth collection from Rose, Marry & Burn is a journey through a troubled relationship and a troubled city, charting the territory of love and addiction, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Inspired by struggles both personal and global, these are not gentle poems—they probe deep into comforting personal and cultural myths, rending them to pieces even as they expose the beauty in the bright shards that remain.

Although the language of blazing passion resonates throughout the discussion of love, longing and addiction, the driving rhythms often resemble more closely the relentless pounding of the ocean: “The sky’s cauldron / tips a black storm to swarm the harried / hawk, call, Shame! Shame! Dawn has come / in flame.” The golden glow of the ancient world, the dark sweetness of fairy tales, overlay these harsh contemporary moments of rape and addiction, loneliness and poverty, casting them in the richer light of another era.

The pain of letting go, whether of love, old habits or cherished personal myths, permeates the collection. But these poems insist that once the dam has broken, once the myths have crumbled, the possibility emerges of building something new.

Marry & Burn was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award and one of the poems in the collection won a 2016 Pushcart Prize.

Regeneration MachineRegeneration Machine is an elegiac tribute to a friend of the author who died twenty years ago in sensationalized and tragic circumstances. Nevin Sample walked into a small bank in Deep Cove, robbed a teller at gunpoint and fled into the forest of Cates Park. After a lengthy pursuit, he hid behind a stump at the edge of a small clearing. The police called to him. He raised the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

Nevin had a magnetism, an understated complexity: there were those who loved him, resented him, found him gregarious. To Joe Denham, he was an old, close friend. Regeneration Machine is a 100-stanza, 9,000-word letter-in-verse to Nevin’s ghost—a requiem, elegy, lament; a sort of flailing attempt to make sense of the nonsensically violent way that a non-violent, caring, intelligent young man chose to end his life.

Regeneration Machine won the 2016 Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry.