York alumna among prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize winners

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Canadian poet and York University alumna Canisia Lubrin was named one of two winners of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in poetry. In addition to a citation and award, winners of the prizes receive an unrestricted grant of US$165,000 to support their writing.

Canisia Lubrin
Canisia Lubrin. Photo: The Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes.

Lubrin’s first collection of poetry, Voodoo Hypothesis, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert award, the Pat Lowther award and was a finalist for the Raymond Souster award. It was also named one of the 10 ‘must-read’ books of 2017 by the League of Canadian Poets. Her second critically acclaimed book, The Dyzgraphxst, is one long poem that both examines the idea of selfhood while exploring issues of race, oppression and colonialism. It was published by Penguin/Random House in 2020.

“Even as an undergraduate, Canisia had a unique creative voice,” said author Michael Helm, an associate professor with the Department of English at York. “I still recognize that voice, now matured in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She’s interested in selves and others, in poetic forms and ideas. Her work is fully imaginative, with a linguistic reach put in service of emotionally and historically grounded experience.”

Born and raised in Saint Lucia, Lubrin completed a BA in creative writing at York University and an MFA at the University of Guelph. She teaches creative writing at OCAD University and poetry at the University of Toronto, and is also incoming poetry editor at the literary press McClelland & Stewart.

The Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes were established at Yale University with the mission of calling attention to literary achievement and providing writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. First awarded in 2013, the prizes are open to English-language writers from anywhere in the world who have at least one published book or one professionally produced play. Eight winners in four categories – drama, fiction, nonfiction and poetry – receive prizes each year. Previous Canadian winners include York alumnus David Chariandy.