I’m the featured poet today on Todd Swift’s UK poetry blog, Eyewear. Check it out!
(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.
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.