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culture

bpNichol Chapbook Award Winner Announced

Adrienne Gruber wins a prestigious chapbook award for Mimic, her collection of poetry.

Adrienne Gruber. Photo courtesy of Meet the Presses.

“I’ll leave an appendage behind / if need be. I’ve got resources. I’m just saying,” writes Vancouver-based Adrienne Gruber in her poetry chapbook Mimic, which was named as the winner of the 2012 bpNichol Chapbook Award late last week. Published as part of Leaf Press’ Gesture series, Mimic is a twisting, clever collection replete with tentacle-like lines and a weird tensile strength. The book “mimics” the undulating grace and alien appearance of an octopus in its content, and the theme is also carried over into the physical layout of the poetry, which is as strangely shaped as it is strangely beautiful.

The bpNichol award, founded in 1986, is unique in that it looks at both the literary value of the work being evaluated as well as the physical beauty of the printed object. Originally titled the Phoenix Chapbook Award and administered by the Phoenix Community Works Foundation, the award was re-named following the original co-judge’s untimely death in 1988. bpNichol, the new namesake, was an experimental visual poet, who engaged heavily in the small press community in Toronto and beyond.

The award continues to reward excellence in Canadian poetry published in chapbook form (a chapbook is a collection of poems, usually hand-made and printed in a small run, containing 40 pages or less). It’s administered by Meet The Presses, a Toronto-based not-for-profit that is devoted to promoting micropresses, small and independent presses, and literature in print. The winner gets $2,000.

This year’s prize was judged by Bill Kennedy, author of Status Update and Apostrophe (both co-authored by Darren Wershler) and Maggie Hellwig, author of the novel Girls Fall Down. Of Mimic, the judges say: “Gruber has written a sequence of connected poems, taking us from underwater landscapes to late night Portuguese bakeries, marked by brevity and precision, witty and alienist by turns. She deserves this year’s bpNichol Chapbook Award for making our minds race and our skins crawl.”

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