The Montreal Prize Anthology 2020

Edited by Jordan Abel and Kaveh Akbar

Founded in 2010, the Montreal International Poetry Prize has established itself as a major event in contemporary poetry, both in Canada and around the world. The Montreal Prize Anthology 2020 explodes with talent, combining radiant vision with striking invention in form. The loss of a father finds equivalence in a tornado’s blowing an apartment open to the night sky. Sacred and profane images of a mother pile up in couplets, making a heap of gold. Family memory stirs in the dreamy measures of a sestina. Racial injustice is defied and reversed in the unflinching mirror of a palindromic poem. A doctor confesses her life work to be a striving to right the wrong done her father. These poems, a handful of the thousands submitted to the 2020 competition, were chosen for the lone virtue of their speaking directly to the reader, with conviction and with art.

In 2019, the founder of the Montreal Prize, Asa Boxer, transferred it to the Department of English at McGill University. A team of dedicated faculty and graduate students recruited a distinguished international jury, headed by Pulitzer-prize-winner Yusef Komunyakaa, to judge the entries. This book is the result.

Signal Poetry
2021

Jordan Abel is a Nisga’a writer from Vancouver. He is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, and Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize). Abel’s latest project NISHGA (forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in 2020) is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence and the often invisible intergenerational impact of residential schools. Abel recently completed a PhD at Simon Fraser University, and is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.

Kaveh Akbar’s poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, Paris Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of Pilgrim Bell (Graywolf 2021) and Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James 2017). Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and teaches at Purdue University and in the low residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson.

Wendy Cope was born in Erith, Kent UK. After reading history at Oxford, she worked as a primary school teacher in London until the publication of her first book, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, in 1986. Since then she has been freelance. Her fifth collection of poems, Anecdotal Evidence, was published in 2018. She has also written for children and edited several anthologies. She was awarded an OBE for services to literature in 2010.
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