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Two Nightwood Poets Nominated for National Poetry Award!

Posted: April 19, 2005

Anthropy by Ray Hsu and Monks' Fruit by AJ Levin—both published by Nightwood Editions as Junction books—are finalists for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, which recognizes the best first book of poetry by a Canadian. Ray Hsu was also shortlisted for this year’s Trillium Book Award for Poetry, awarded to a first, second or third poetry collection by an emerging Ontario writer.

Ray Hsu grew up in Toronto. He studied at the University of Toronto, where his work was scored for performance by the Faculty of Music. His poetry has been published in Canadian and American journals, including Fence, The Fiddlehead, Exile, Echolocation and The Literary Review of Canada. He is currently completing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

A.J. Levin was born in Winnipeg during a Halloween blizzard. He has also lived in Montreal, Mexico and Oxford, England. He completed a B.A. at the University of Toronto and an M.Phil. at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, and served as the Junior Dean at St. Cross College. He is the author of two chapbooks and now lives in Toronto, where he works as an editor.

Anthropy, Ray Hsu’s long-awaited debut, is a work of extraordinary range and precision. Excavating sites of human cruelty and endurance, intimacy and experience, Hsu puts forward the language to lead us into the inferno of our time. He brings us to a place where the living, the dead, and the imaginary cross paths. Odysseus meets the Little Prince; Franz Kafka meets Fernando Pessoa. All struggle with the same problem: their pasts, visceral and desperate, continue to burn with the intensity of the present.

Monks’ Fruit, Levin’s first book-length collection, presents a world in which the past overlays our modern existence, where classical allusions and philosophical observation are married to slapstick humour and carnival: Plato is a blues singer, Tantalus is a prospector in BC, and Descartes wanders around a Montreal amusement park. Monks’ Fruit is above all a work of faith. Redemption lies in humour, imagination, curiosity and knowledge, though not in organized religion: Lazarus is reborn through his love, even extinct species have a second life when we remember them, but a parking lot is death itself.

The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award recognizes the best first book of poetry by a Canadian author. It is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and comes with a $1000 prize. Anthropy and Monks’ Fruit are two of five shortlisted books. The winner will be announced at the League’s Annual General Meeting on June 11, 2005 at Hart House at the University of Toronto.