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Liz Howard’s debut collection Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent won the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize, was shortlisted for the 2015 Governor General’s Award for poetry, and was named a Globe and Mail top 100 book. A National Magazine Award finalist, her recent work has appeared in Canadian Literature, Literary Review of Canada, Room Magazine and Best Canadian Poetry 2021. Her second collection, Letters in a Bruised Cosmos, was published by McClelland & Stewart in June 2021. Howard received an Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She has completed creative writing and Indigenous arts residencies at McGill University, University of Calgary, UBC Okanagan, Douglas College, Sheridan College, and The Capilano Review. She is also an adjunct professor and lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Toronto and serves on the editorial board for Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak & Wynn. She is of mixed settler and Anishinaabe heritage. Born and raised on Treaty 9 territory in Northern Ontario, she currently lives in Toronto.

Letters in a Bruised Cosmos

McClelland & Stewart
2022 Shortlist
Canada
Shortlisted in:

Judges’ Citation

Responding to astrophysical evidence of a potential collision between the known universe and a parallel universe, the poems in Liz Howard’s powerful collection trace this ‘cosmic bruise’ as it recurs like an epigenetic expression in family history…

Responding to astrophysical evidence of a potential collision between the known universe and a parallel universe, the poems in Liz Howard’s powerful collection trace this ‘cosmic bruise’ as it recurs like an epigenetic expression in family history, intergenerational trauma, and the phenomena of everyday life. Like dark matter in the bloodstream, or the star-shaped cells in the brain and spinal cord, the poet carries this vestige within her, observing its shape as a present absence in the spilled ashes of her Indigenous father, or in dissociative childhood experiences of abjection, or in meditations on cognition and Indigenous cosmology. The poems in LETTERS IN A BRUISED COSMOS are intimate, astonishing, and moving caresses of the bruise the past makes within and around us, marking the many ways in which ‘history is a sewing motion / along a thin membrane’.


Judges’ Citation

With penetrating intelligence and playful musicality, Liz Howard’s ambitious debut collection keeps us delightfully off-balance with its mix of lyricism and experiment, allusion and invention

With penetrating intelligence and playful musicality, Liz Howard’s ambitious debut collection keeps us delightfully off-balance with its mix of lyricism and experiment, allusion and invention. In her efforts ‘to dream a science that would name me,’ Howard explores a dizzying array of texts and landscapes, from Dante to Erin Mouré, from logging camps to high school dances. But for a poet so attuned to the self as ‘a fictive province,’ we are all ‘infinite citizens,’ constructed of dredged materials and fraught histories. Howard is capable of thrilling leaps of language, repurposing Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha or imagining an oddly tender childhood memory of a ‘boreal swing’ made from the carcass of a moose. These poems are filled with energy and magic, suspended between competing inheritances, at home in their hyper-modern hybridity. INFINITE CITIZEN OF THE SHAKING TENT confronts its legacies with vivid imagery and crackling language, and introduces us to a bold, original poetic voice.