The Caribbean Writer

Saint Lucian author Canisia Lubrin cops international award!

(Windham-Campbell Prizes)- This year’s recipients of one of the richest international literary awards – the Windham-Campbell Prizes – have been revealed today, including 85-year-old memoirist Vivian Gornick, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael R. Jackson and former Poet Laureate of Toronto, Dionne Brand.

These prestigious annual English-language awards celebrate extraordinary literary achievement rewarding each writer with an unrestricted grant of $165,000 USD to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.

This year’s list showcases the achievement of eight writers at very different stages of their careers – from fresh voices to literary icons – all pushing boundaries with brilliantly bold work, exploring deeply personal and political ideas around identity, race, sexuality and the immigrant experience. They are:

  • Vivian Gornick (United States) – nonfiction
  • Kate Briggs (United Kingdom/Netherlands) – nonfiction
  • Dionne Brand (Canada/Trinidad and Tobago) – fiction
  • Renee Gladman (United States) – fiction
  • Canisia Lubrin (Saint Lucia/Canada) – poetry
  • Natalie Scenters-Zapico (United States) – poetry
  • Nathan Alan Davis (United States) – drama
  • Michael R. Jackson (United States) – drama

About Canisia Lubrin

Canisia Lubrin is the author of two critically acclaimed collections of poetry: Voodoo Hypothesis (2017) and The Dyzgraphxst (2020). Voodoo Hypothesis, a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award (2018), is a wildly ambitious work of speculative poetics, brilliantly combining physics, philosophy, and pop culture. The book investigates, with a steady eye and deep moral seriousness, state-sanctioned violence against Black individuals and cultures—all while remaining, in the words of Vivek Shraya, “an imperative invocation of Black dreams.”

The Dyzgraphxst continues Lubrin’s exploration of Black history and Black futurities. A single long poem that is organized into seven acts or movements, the book feels private in gesture and grand in scale, offering a piercing examination of selfhood and the forces that threaten it: “I was not myself,” a speaker worries, “I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me.”

Born and raised in Saint Lucia, Lubrin studied in Canada, completing a BA at York University and an MFA at the University of Guelph. She teaches creative writing at OCAD University and poetry at the University of Toronto. She is also incoming poetry editor at the literary press McClelland & Stewart and has been a Writer in Residence for Queen’s University and for Poetry In Voice, an organization that sends poets into secondary school classrooms. She lives in Whitby.

Canisia Lubrin said:‘What to make of this profoundly reassuring way to be utterly stunned into intensifying an old love? It is impossible to express what this extraordinary encouragement means, what being in such company during such a catastrophic time, will make possible. This invitation to trust even more deeply, the potential of the not-yet-written is transformative; and thanks to the Windham-Campbell Prize, I will face the world and these alphabets tomorrow and the day after with renewed vigour.’

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