Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize

Winner: $25,000
Sponsored by Latner Family Foundation

2014 Winner


Ken Babstock



Jury Citation

Ken Babstock’s poems are like grenades: shiny, compelling, and threatening imminent explosion. Exceedingly well-made, and always surprising, they reflect a deep attention to the world and its weird complexity, its joys and violence. Nearly animal in their vigour, they arise from an unsettled and unsettling curiosity – from the history of world literatures, from design mags, Greek myths, pop music, assorted manuals, nature rambles, eavesdropping – and examine perception and representation from a thrillingly Cubist array of angles. That these are old subjects makes them, in Babstock’s hands, all the more potent, for one feels him constantly challenging himself to, in Pound’s (old) words, “make it new” – for us, but, foremost, for himself. Each poem reflects the concentration of all his attention and art. His reputation is deservedly significant, and renewed encounters with his work make one marvel all the more. Few writers balance mind, body, and spirit with such apparent ease and with such vitality. Ken Babstock is in a league of his own.

Selected Publications

On Malice (2014)
Methodist Hatchet (2012)
Airstream Land Yacht (2006)
Days Into Flatspin (2001)
Mean (1999)

About the Author

Ken Babstock was born in Burin, Newfoundland, in 1970 and grew up in the Ottawa Valley. He published his first collection, Mean, in 1999 and subsequently won the Milton Acorn Award and the Atlantic Poetry Prize. His second collection, Days into Flatspin, appeared two years later. In 2006, he published Airstream Land Yacht, which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and won the Trillium Book Award. Babstock received the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2012 for his fourth poetry collection, Methodist Hatchet. His fifth collection of poetry, On Malice, was published by Coach House Books in October 2014. His poems have won Gold at the National Magazine Awards, have been anthologized in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland – most recently in The Oxford Anthology of Canadian Literature in English – and translated into Dutch, German, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, French, and Latvian. Babstock was previously the poetry editor for the House of Anansi Press and currently sits on the poetry board for McClelland & Stewart. He lives in Toronto, however, he is currently based in Vancouver spending an academic term at the University of British Columbia serving as the visiting writer-in-residence in the creative writing program.

About the Jury

Stephanie Bolster’s latest book, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth, was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award, and more recent work was a finalist for the 2012 CBC/Canada Writes competition. Her first book, White Stone: The Alice Poems, won the Governor General's and the Gerald Lampert Awards in 1998. Two years earlier she received the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award, a prize reserved for promising young poets who have yet to publish a collection of poetry. Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 and co-editor of Penned: Zoo Poems, she teaches in and coordinates the creative writing program at Concordia University in Montréal.

Lorna Crozier published her first collection, Inside in the Sky, in 1976. Since then, she has authored 16 books of poetry – including Inventing the Hawk, Everything Arrives at the Light, and What the Living Won’t Let Go – and has been awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Her latest work, The Book of Marvels, a series of playful prose meditations on household objects, was published last year. Last year the West Coast Book Prize Society presented her with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. She lives in North Saanich, British Columbia.

Fred Wah is a poet, novelist, and scholar. He is the author of more than 20 books of poetry and prose-poetry including Waiting for Saskatchewan, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry in 1985; Diamond Grill, which won the Howard O'Hagan Award for Short Fiction in 1996; and Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity which won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Writing in Canadian Literature in 2001. Wah was previously Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate. He is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary, and divides his time between Vancouver and a seasonal home near Nelson.

About the Prize

The Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize is given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry. Poets are judged on their body of work – no less than three published collections – rather than a single book. All Canadian poets are considered and no age restrictions apply. The inaugural winner was selected by a three-member, independent judging panel and was announced on November 4, 2014, at the Writers’ Trust Awards night.

About the Sponsor

Founded in 1972 by Albert and the late Temmy Latner, the Latner Family Foundation has been providing support to health care, education, social development, and the arts in the Greater Toronto Area.




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize


July 18 for books published between May 16 and Sept 30, 2018


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