Claire Harris Poetry Prize
January 2, 8:00 AM – March 31, 5:00 PM ESTFree
The Claire Harris Poetry Prize, a new initiative of Goose Lane’s icehouse poetry imprint, is designed to enhance the visibility of debut poetry collections by previously unpublished poets from Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities. This prize will be presented for the first time in 2024 and thereafter will be presented biennially for a full-length debut collection. The prize will include a cash award of $1,000, a contract for the publication of the collection under the icehouse poetry imprint in the following year (2025), and public readings in at least three Canadian cities. The recipient of the 2024 prize will be selected by poet and essayist Kazim Ali.
The award honours the legacy of Claire Harris, a generous mentor, provocative thinker, and singular voice in Canadian poetry, known for her adventurous verse; contrasting use of prose and poetry; alternating voices, ranging from British English to Trinidadian Creole; and visual experimentation. During her storied career, Harris won the Commonwealth Award for Poetry for the Americas Region, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Award for Poetry, the Alberta Culture Poetry Prize, and the Alberta Culture Special Award. Her most celebrated work, Drawing Down a Daughter, was a finalist for the 1992 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. Goose Lane published many of Harris’s books throughout her career, including Translation into Fiction in 1984, Drawing Down a Daughter in 1992 (reissued in 2007), and She in 2000.
Eligible writers include Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada who are writers from Black, Indigenous, or other racialized communities and who have not previously published a book-length collection of poetry. (Poets who have published a chapbook, but not yet a book-length collection, are eligible to apply.)
Manuscripts should be book-length works of poetry, i.e., approximately 48-100 pages. (Chapbook-length manuscripts are not eligible.) Submissions may draw upon a broad range of aesthetic practises, from lyric poetry to genre-busting experimentation.
How to Submit Your Poetry Manuscript
Please submit your manuscript through the Claire Harris Poetry Prize online portal between January 2 and March 31, 2024. Please note that we are able to consider only one submission from an individual writer. There is no entry fee. Should you have any questions about the submission process, please contact Alan Sheppard, Goose Lane’s production editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your submission should include:
- A cover letter that includes your contact information. Please include your postal address, email, and telephone numbers where we can contact you.
- The complete manuscript.
Please ensure that all documents are submitted in MS Word (.doc, .docx) or as a PDF file as a single attachment in 10-12 pt readable font.
We prefer that you refrain from submitting your manuscript to other publishers while it is under consideration for the Claire Harris Poetry Prize. However, should you decide to send your manuscript to other publishers, please ensure that you let us know in your cover letter and notify us immediately should the status of your manuscript change during our selection process.
What to Expect after Submission
We will notify you that we have received your manuscript as soon as it arrives. We will also inform you of our final decision within four months of the closing date for submissions, i.e., by July 31, 2024, except in extraordinary circumstances.
About the Selection Process for the 2024 Prize
Every manuscript will be read by Kazim Ali, who will select the winning manuscript for the 2024 prize. Kazim will also work with the author to edit the prize-winning manuscript for publication.
About Kazim Ali
icehouse poetry is honoured that Kazim Ali has agreed to be the inaugural Claire Harris Poetry Prize judge. A celebrated poet, editor, and essayist, Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian, Iranian, and Egyptian descent. He spent most of his early life in Canada and now lives in the United States, where he teaches at the University of California, San Diego.
Ali is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, fiction, essays, and cross-genre texts. His collections of poetry include Sukun: New and Selected Poems; Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; and The Far Mosque, winner of the Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award. His books of non-fiction include Silver Road; Fasting for Ramadan; and Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water, winner of the Banff Mountain Book Award for Environmental Literature. Ali is also an accomplished translator and has edited several anthologies and books of criticism.
About Claire Harris
Claire Harris is a decorated Black Trinidadian Canadian poet who emigrated to Canada in 1966. Her poetry is known for verse techniques such as contrasting prose and poetry and for alternating voices, ranging from British English to Trinidadian Creole. Harris’s innovative poetry dramatized and made public the issues of injustice in colonial and post-colonial settings and the psychological struggles experienced by racialized women who face violence and oppression. She mentored numerous young poets as both a teacher and an editor at Dandelion and blue buffalo.
Harris’s eight books of poetry include Fables from the Women’s Quarters and Translation into Fiction, both released in 1984. Her later work included Drawing Down a Daughter and She, which combined prose and poetry to give urgency to the search for a cultural home. During her lifetime, her work won international acclaim; was widely anthologized in Canada, the US, and abroad; and was translated into German and Hindi. Harris won the Commonwealth Award for Poetry for the Americas Region, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Award for Poetry, the Alberta Culture Poetry Prize, and the Alberta Culture Special Award. She was also a finalist for a Governor General’s Award in 1992.
About icehouse poetry and Goose Lane Editions
Goose Lane Editions was founded in 1954 as Fiddlehead Poetry Books to provide the opportunity for Canadian poets to have their work published in book form. Over the years, the press has published more than five hundred volumes of poetry under the Fiddlehead Poetry Books, Goose Lane Editions, and icehouse poetry imprints, including original collections, volumes of new and selected poems, and cloth-bound editions of collected works. The press is proud to have been the publisher of poets such as Kazim Ali, Herménégilde Chiasson (in translation), George Elliott Clarke, Kwame Dawes, Pamela Mordecai, Soraya Peerbaye, Sue Sinclair, John Thompson, Douglas Walbourne-Gough, and (of course) Claire Harris. The icehouse poetry imprint is overseen by a national board of published poets.
The general submission window for icehouse poetry will reopen on April 1, 2024. Poets submitting to the contest can indicate on the submission form that they’d like their manuscript be included in icehouse poetry’s general submissions later this spring.