Judges for the Kobzar Book Award clearly had an appetite for Coldstream author Laisha Rosnau’s poetry collection, Our Familiar Hunger.
The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives programmer was named the winner of the biennial award that comes with a $25,000 top prize on Thursday, March 12.
“Laisha Rosnau’s collection is evocative of generations of wronged women, who are at last able to find peace in her prose. A wonderful book,” said jury member Matt Bowes.
“These are poems that cut to the bone, linking lives marked by landscape and gender and history across continents and across generations,” said best-selling author Nino Ricci, also on the jury.
Lindy Ledohowski, jury member and co-editor of the 2018 Kobzar winner, called Rosnau’s collection of poems “simply staggering.”
The shortlist for the award included David Demchuk’s debut novel, The Bone Mother, John Paskievich’s book of photographs, The North End Revisited, Sandra Semchuk’s photo essays in The Stories Were Not Told and Alex Leslie’s collection of linked stories, We All Need to Eat.
Our Familiar Hunger becomes Rosnau’s fourth award-winning collection of poetry to go along with two ctritically acclaimed novels. Past awards she’s won include the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award, the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Prize and the CBC Poetry Prize.
Our Familiar Hunger is a book about the strength, will, struggle and fortitude of generations of women and how those relationships and shared knowledge interact, inform, transform and burden. The poems are memories of a reclaimed history, attempts at starting over in a new place, and studies of the epigenetic grief we carry and the myriad ways.
The Kobzar award recognizes exceptional contributions to Canadian literary arts by authors whose topics touch upon the Ukrainian Canadian experience. The winning author comes away with $20,000 while the publisher – in this case Nightwood Editions – is awarded $5,000.
The winner was named at a gala award ceremony in the Palais Royale in Toronto, hosted by musician Mark Marczyk of Lemon Bucket Orchestra.
The award is open to a wide range of genres, as can be seen in this year’s shortlist. Genres include literary non-fiction, fiction, poetry, young readers’ literature, play, photography, screenplay and musical.