The Fiddlehead Poetry Book Prize recognizes the best book of poetry published by a New Brunswick resident in a given year. Since 2016 the $500 prize has been sponsored by The Fiddlehead: Atlantic Canada's International Literary Journal. Established in 1945, The Fiddlehead is Canada's oldest literary journal, and it pages have featured a who's who of Canadian Literature.
2022 Award Winner: Sue Sinclair
Judge Weyman Chan's Comments: "At surface glance, a Sue Sinclair poem draws its quotidian lines plainly. Then, as you dive deeper, ontological arguments of growth versus death, change versus integrity, proceed in whispers. The force of what it is to exist, consecrates the reader: “In the ruptured darkness / we grasp what we can and look within.” While her book Almost Beauty: New and Selected Poems might be viewed as a best hits album, the consistent tone and range of these pieces are cumulatively stunning. The poet stays clear of sentiment, leaving stacked perspectives to tease out for her what it is to “anchor yourself / more firmly to the ground”. Cohesively, the author wins rare gems in plain sight. Quiet leaps in felt circumstance clarify for the reader “The density of being here, our lives an unearned / rescue.” Sinclair tempers then hones her empathic eye over humanity’s mistakes and hopes, “fascinated / by themselves and a little / ashamed.”
Wolsak and Wynn
Winner: Triny Finlay
Myself a Paper Clip
Judge Isabella Yang's Comments: "Myself a paperclip is an extraordinary, moving collection that resonated and comforted me across the duration of several months while judging this book award. The polyphony of experiences juggling the complexities of mental health within the psych ward offer a rare and urgent representation of the feelings, agency, and storied narratives of those in their most vulnerable; however, the voices here exhibit nothing but great tenacity, wit, and a courage that remains firmly grounded in the memory accounts of the body at times when a sense of physical grounding might feel challengingly remote.
Finlay adopts an original form of the serial poem punctuated by the pace of vertical ellipses. These poems resist dichotomies and systemic nullification. They also perform a precise expression of the non-linear, fragmented progressions of time that accompanies mental illnesses through their periods of dissociation, loss, struggle, and recovery. It is a book that, in my opinion, speaks to the experiences of those—both patients and caregivers—familiar with broader forms of inpatient care and seeking care within hospital units as well."
McLelland & Stewart
Winner: Allan Cooper
Waiting for the Small Ship of Desire
Judge Yusuf Saadi's Comments: "Cooper’s poems brim with emotion and suggestion; they sometimes break up on the shores of the rational into the almost mystical. He leans into mystery with startling lines: “I wonder if my father, after he died, / woke up as a small boy again / eating at his parent’s table” or a song in which one can “hear the sadness breaking open / to become … a midnight / train.” These poems are personal, often retrospective, tracing the “changing faces of desire” over a lifetime. There are images and poems here that I would like to keep with me."
M. Travis Lane
Gordon Hill Press
Winner: Jennifer Houle
Judge D.A. Lockhart's comments: "This collection is stunning in its exquisite feminine beauty and strength. There is depth, almost a vastness, with which these poems read. The reader finds themselves swimming in a beautiful and sensual universe. One becomes intertwined with myth, with the stars above, with the young poet, with the wise poet, and comes away with a sort of experience reading one of the finest collections of poetry can garner. This is poetry that is beautiful, engaging, approachable, and highly memorable."
Winner: Jenna Lyn Albert
Winner: Allan Cooper
Winner: M. Travis Lane
Winner: M. Travis Lane
2023 - Bertrand Bickersteth
Bertrand Bickersteth is the author of The Response of Weeds. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Geist, The Walrus, and Grain. He is currently working on a collection of poems on Black cowboys. He lives in Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary) and teaches at Olds College, both in Treaty 7 Territory.
2022 - Weyman Chan
2021 - Isabella Yang
2020 - Yusuf Saadi