P.K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry

2019 Winner: Helen Guri

The University of Victoria, on behalf of The Malahat Review, is pleased to announce that this year's recipient of the P. K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry is Helen Guri for their poem, "Speech," which appeared in the Queer Perspectives Issue 205, Winter 2018. Their poem was chosen by award judge, Shane Rhodes.

The P. K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry recognizes the excellence of The Malahat Review's contributors by awarding a prize of $1000 to the author of the best poem or sequence of poems to have appeared in the magazine during the previous calendar year. The winner, selected by an outside judge who is recognized for their accomplishment as a poet, is announced prior to the publication of The Malahat Review's Spring issue.

Of Guri's poem, Shane Rhodes says: "What I love about this poem are the unexpected leaps and jars I get in reading it. The poem took me by surprise and left me someplace unexpected. From the first lines, I could not have predicted where it would eventually end up. I can’t say it doesn’t stump me a bit, but I enjoy the stumping. This is an example of what good poetry can do – take risks and bring surprise into language so often given over to logic, narrative flow and cohesiveness. There is humour here too, mercurial; you can see it in that wandering punctuation and those line endings sometimes meaningfully, sometimes chaotically shifting. 'Speech' is as much a story about imagination, about remembrance, about growing up as it is about Annie Edson Taylor and about what power wants from story and from lives lived outside the norm. Like a barrel over the Niagara, this poem seems ready to fly apart but, miraculously, in the end Helen Guri steps out unscathed. And I can’t wait to watch them do it again."

Helen Guri is a queer non-binary writer, editor, and performer of Catalan and Danish descent living on unceded Indigenous land in Tio'tia:ke (Montreal). Their poems and essays dealing with relation, ecology, transformation, and sexuality have been published widely in Canada, as well as in the U.S., Australia, and in translation in Japan. They are the author of Match (Coach House, 2011), which was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, as well as the chapbooks Here Come the Waterworks (Book*hug, 2015) and Some Animals and Their Housing Situations (The Elephants, 2018).

Read Helen Guri's statement about the P. K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry and legacies of exclusion.

Shane Rhodes is the author of six books of poetry, including Dead White Men (2017, Coach House Books), which won the 2018 Ottawa Book Award. Other notable titles include Err, which was nominated for the City of Ottawa Book Award, X, which created poetry out of Canada’s post-Confederation treaties, and The Wireless Room, which won the Alberta Book Award. Shane’s poetry has also been featured in the anthologies Best Canadian Poetry in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014, Breathing Fire II, and Seminal: Canada’s Gay Male Poets and has been awarded the P. K. Page Founders Award and a National Magazine Gold Award. Shane lives in Ottawa.

The P. K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry honours the celebrated Victoria poet's contribution to Canadian letters. It is made possible by a financial donation to The Malahat Review by P. K. Page in recognition of her long association with the magazine and as a gesture of her deep appreciation of her peers in the local and national literary communities.

For more information about the P. K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry and how you may support it through a donation, please email The Malahat Review.

Look for an interview with Helen Guri in our upcoming April e-newsletter!

Previous P.K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry Winners