The winners for the 2022 League of Canadian Poets Book Awards have been announced, and Selina Boan has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for Undoing Hours, a debut poetry collection that considers the various ways we undo, inherit, reclaim and (re)learn.
From the jurors: Boan sifts, smudges, wrestles gently, digs conscientiously undoing terrain and time. A poetry that “wants to read herself past syntax” soiling into her language(s), seeking to bring out the bones, create a renewed “plot/lot” of an unknown past. These poems grasp both the jarring and gracious bringing together awe-inspiring lapses of breath and rhythms in words between Cree and English that leave one panting. In this book, the reader is left beginning again to [re]learn and unlearn language as settler-newcomer, “part prairie, part invasion”, “the syllabus of earth, rearranged.” Selina Boan’s Undoing Hours is an admirable feat of working between our unique national dilemma “between two dialects” and that largeness of love for all things most dear such as Nohtâwiy.
Undoing Hours tell stories of meeting family, of experiencing love and heartbreak, and of learning new ways to express and understand the world around her through nêhiyawêwin.
As a settler and urban nehiyaw who grew up disconnected from her father’s family and community, Boan turns to language as one way to challenge the impact of assimilation policies and colonization on her own being and the landscapes she inhabits. Exploring the nexus of language and power, the effects of which are both far-reaching and deeply intimate, these poems consider the ways language impacts the way we view and construct the world around us. Boan also explores what it means to be a white settler–nehiyaw woman actively building community and working to ground herself through language and relationships. Boan writes from a place of linguistic tension, tenderness and care, creating space to ask questions and to imagine intimate decolonial futures.
Selina Boan is a white settler–nehiyaw poet living on the traditional, unceded territories of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples. Her work has been published widely, including in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 and 2020. She has received several honours for her work, including Room’s 2018 Emerging Writer Award and the 2017 National Magazine Award for Poetry. She is currently a poetry editor for Rahila’s Ghost Press and is a member of the Growing Room Collective.
Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975.
League of Canadian Poets Book Awards are presented each year to poets at various stages in their career, as well as a spoken word lifetime achievement award and a young poets prize. Shortlists for the annual book awards are announced in April, and winners are announced in May.