Last night at the Roundhouse Community Centre the City of Vancouver Book Award was announced along with the presentation of the 2012 Mayor’s Arts Awards.
YVR (Oolichan Books) is W.H. New’s tenth book of poetry. A collection of imagery that conveys the past and the present of life in Vancouver, it covers the gamut of the Vancouver experience: running the Seawall through Stanley Park, trying to spy the Shaughnessy mansions through their impenetrable shrubs, the ubiquitousness of moss, the rain. Woven throughout the book are twelve poems each called “Main Street” and in these New takes us through the history and geography of this road that slices through our city, from north to south, past to present.
Photo of W.H. New at the 2011 Vancouver Internationals Writers’ Fest by John W. MacDonald
The independent jury of former People’s Co-op bookseller Jane Bouey, author and educator David Chariandy, and retired Vancouver Sun books editor Rebecca Wigod selected YVR for “its maturity of concept and language, its musicality, rhythm and poetry of Vancouver place names, and the many political, geographic and community voices.”
W.H. New was also the recipient last night of a 2012 Mayor’s Arts Awards for Literary Arts.
Presented annually since 1989, the City of Vancouver Book Award recognizes authors of excellence of any genre who contribute to the appreciation and understanding of Vancouver’s history, unique character, or the achievements of its residents. Past recipients have included The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie and The Man Game by Lee Henderson (both Vancouver Book Club selections), Hope in Shadows by Brad Cran and Gillian Jerome, and Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony. The first recipient in 1989 was Paul Yee, for Saltwater City.
YVR is the first collection of poetry chosen since 1999, when Bud Osborn won for his book Keys to Kingdoms.
The finalists for this year’s award represented a variety of genres and subject matter. In addition to W.H. New, the other finalists were John Mikhail Asfour and Elee Kraljii Gardiner, editors, V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Claudia Cornwall, At the World’s Edge: Curt Lang’s Vancouver, Ali Kazimi, Undesirables: White Canada & the Komagata Maru, and Jen Sookfong Lee, The Better Mother.
The $2,000 prize is funded by the City’s Publishing Reserve, which was established in 1977 as a permanent legacy for Vancouver writers and publishers.
In Camera (from YVR)
That moment before the steam clock blasts noon,
no time exists: even the tourists’ eyes
are shutterless, no muscle flexes, no
shuffle agitates the sea they stand on.
In front of the Aquarium, Bill Reid’s whale
holds forever balanced on its tail fin–Chief
of the Undersea World. Off Chestnut Street, a
steel crab shines stainless, polishes still. On
Locarno beach, volleyball players pause in mid-
serve, -spike, -dig. Nothing moves until the mind,
supposing if, clicks yet, next, now, the tip of
history, the moon-ride then—