Gerald Lampert Award for The Nights Also!

(File under: Life! Is! Exciting! Am overusing exclamation marks!)

When I found out that The Nights Also had won the Gerald Lampert Award, I screamed and hyperventilated a little. I dragged my houseguest out of the shower to make her read the letter. Then I oscillated between a ridiculous childlike bicycle-parade kind of excitement, and the utter conviction that it was some kind of clerical error. Not until it was announced on a stage last Saturday at the League of Canadian Poets gala dinner did I believe it was real.

The event itself was a pleasure. I was thrilled to meet some of the other nominees for the Pat Lowther and Gerald Lampert awards – Karen Enns, Nela Rio and Nikki Reimer – who all did beautiful readings. At the beginning of the night, the League honoured Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane – two very generous teachers and talented writers who had a huge impact on my writing. Fifteen years ago, when I was studying Chemistry and Geography at university, a friend dragged me along to her writing class to sit in for an hour. At the time I figured that studying writing at university was a fairly stupid idea, and had told my friend so several times. Whatever Patrick Lane said in that one-hour class changed my mind, the course of my degree, and so much more. Lorna Crozier is a truly gifted teacher, and has been immensely supportive over the years. I owe them both an enormous debt of gratitude, and I know I’m not alone in this, so it was a pleasure to see them both honoured in this setting.

What a fabulous night and a fabulous room of poetry-loving people – it was deeply satisfying to stand at a podium and say “Fuck you, Al Purdy” to a crowd who loves him as much as I do. It was one of those moments that made me feel like I was a part of something. And that felt good.

A big congratulations to Evelyn Lau who won the Pat Lowther Award, also announced that evening.

See coverage in the Quill and Quire, and read the judges’ comments at Open Book Toronto.

Lambda award!

Apparently I’ve won a Lambda! What an incredible honour to be listed with all these amazing folks. Wow. Just being nominated was such a thrill. And, as it turns out, it was a big night for Canadian queer writers. Big congratulations to everyone! And a huge appreciation to the Lambda Literary Foundation for the incredible work they do shining a spotlight on LGBT writing.

I’m still reeling, and having fun remembering that when I was coming out the formative books in my life were also Lambda winners. My first girlfriend lent me Stone Butch Blues, which I read in a single very long night and which truly did change my life.

Winning this award has been an interesting experience. I strongly identify as queer, and have for many many years, but I never used the word lesbian, even when I was only dating women forever and ever amen. I didn’t mind being called a lesbian (my parents used the word a lot and it wasn’t inaccurate), but I just loved the word queer – it fit for me. Recently I find myself in love with a man, and sometimes wonder what the queer world will make of that. I don’t feel any less queer for it, and don’t particularly want to trade in my label for any other. I’ve been happy to find out that I can follow my heart and desire even if it means changing ideas about myself. It does make winning an award as a Lesbian Poet a little complicated. But I’ve decided that I’m just going to let the joy win out – I’m feeling excited and deeply deeply honoured.