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David Zieroth Wins the Governor General's Award for Poetry

Posted: DEcember 24, 2009

Harbour author David Zieroth has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for his eighth collection, The Fly in Autumn.

The winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards were announced in Montreal on November 17.  “I am honoured the jury selected The Fly in Autumn for this award,” Zieroth remarked in his acceptance speech, “and I am deeply grateful to live in a country that supports its poets. I am grateful my grandparents came to Canada from Germany, grateful my parents encouraged my reading though at times were bewildered by my writing.... I’m thankful for the community of poets and poetry lovers in North Vancouver, and for the kinship among poets across Canada.”

The jury--composed of Janice Kulyk Keefer, George Murray and John Pass--notes that “The Fly in Autumn is a note-perfect rendering of the poet’s greatest challenge--to risk oneself in the name of knowing and feeling. It reveals that quietness need not mean silence, that modesty need not mean invisibility, and that comfort is not always found in ease.”

The Fly in Autumn is a nuanced work with an absurdist twist in which recognizable landscapes--of North Vancouver quays and piers and harbour fog--are sometimes irrevocably altered by "water-light" into places of the mind alive with "the hundred thousand thoughts everyone collects in a day."

David Zieroth's poetry has appeared in dozens of anthologies and he has written eight other books, among them The Village of Sliding Time, Crows Do Not Have Retirement and his memoir, The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill: A Country Boyhood. Zieroth won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1999 for his collection How I Joined Humanity at Last and he also recently released a chapbook, Berlin Album, earlier this year. He taught at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, for twenty-five years before retiring and founding the Alfred Gustav Press. Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, he lives in North Vancouver, BC.

The Canada Council’s Governor General’s Literary Awards are awarded in English and French in the categories of fiction, non fiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature (text and illustration) and translation. 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the awards, which are considered one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes. The winning author in each category receives $25,000 and each finalist receives $1,000.

The other nominees for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry were David W. McFadden for Be Calm, Honey (Mansfield Press), Philip Kevin Paul for Little Hunger (Nightwood Editions), Sina Queyras for Expressway (Coach House Books) and Carmine Starnino for This Way Out (Gaspereau Press).