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Sue Goyette has published three collections of poetry and a novel, Lures. She has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the Earle Birney Prize, the Bliss Carman Award and has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she teaches creative writing and works part-time at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

Ocean

Gaspereau Press
2014 Shortlist
Canada

Judges’ Citation

Sue Goyette’s Ocean is a capacious and ambitious book in which she does no less than re-write the sea and the history of our relationship with it.

Sue Goyette’s Ocean is a capacious and ambitious book in which she does no less than re-write the sea and the history of our relationship with it. The individual poems are numbered from one to fifty-six, not named, as is exactly right for the way the book itself ebbs and flows. In Ocean, Goyette becomes the spokesperson for a mythical community of shore-dwellers, with the third person ‘we’ in every poem bringing the strength of the collective to the viewpoint, and a refreshing sense of poetry as a communal force rather than an individual plaint. The ocean is its own character – or characters – a pet, a starlet, a dragon, a pacing old man. The poems explore the idea of its depth and surfaces, the fear of the under-ocean, the nature and origin of saltiness. But even though the sea is a constant – sometimes more present, sometimes less, a tidal flow within the poems – Goyette’s focus is on the shore. Her interest is in the moving boundary between ocean and land, where the shore-dwellers live. Here is a place of change and myth-making, where transformation happens every day. In Ocean, Goyette’s vigorous language and large vision create an extraordinary new history of the way the sea has formed human consciousness, shoreline experience and poetry itself.