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24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Poetry Finalists
Stephen Near

This is the first in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Nov. 27, 2017 at Theatre Aquarius.

Hamilton is a city that abounds in poets, and this year's finalists speak to the diversity of the poetry being written in our city. From the life of legendary painter, to our complicated relationship with grief, to a nightmarish journey through a strange Metropolis, these books move from the conversational to the surreal and blur the boundaries between genres.

It has been almost a century since the painter Tom Thomson was murdered at the age of 39. The mystery of his death has captivated people almost as much as his passionate work. As both a friend and an inspiration to the members of The Group of Seven, founded shortly after his death, Thomson holds an important place in Canadian art.  Earth Day at Leith Churchyard: Poems in Search of Tom Thomson is a collection of poems inspired by the paintings and the character of Tom Thomson, and by the landscape he loved. Bernadette Rule, a former professor of English at Mohawk College, is the host of Art Waves, a weekly arts-interview program on Mohawk College radio. She has published six collections of poetry.

Love is complicated, and in Love, Despite the Ache Chris Pannell has captured the sharp pain and deep affection of a son for his parents as they age and slip away from him. Along with love and loss, this is a book about our own aging. Our own, inevitable, death. Pannell writes of seeing close friends die unexpectedly, watching elderly couples as they travel together. He considers wheelchairs, walkers, lost memories and rests for a few moments in the contemplation of great art. Pannell details it all unsparingly, but with a great humanity. Chris Pannell's previous collection, A Nervous City, won the Hamilton Arts Council's Kerry Schooley Award. Another book, Drive, received the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry and the Arts Hamilton Award for Best Poetry Book of the Year. His other books include Under Old Stars, Everything Comes from Above and Sorry I Spent Your Poem.

In Darrell Epp's latest collection After Hours, our hero awaits Dorothee's return, while frankensteins invade Canada. Poltergeists patrol the hollowed—out manufacturing sector. The future's a let—down; contingency plans are hastily constructed. Every moment's an apocalypse as divine grace pummels Metropolis like a blizzard of fists. In this, Epp’s second collection of poems, he explores diversity of themes with stark images rooted within a gritty postmodern setting. Darrell Epp has been published in literary magazines internationally and his poetry has appeared in dozens of magazines around the world including Maisonneuve, Poetry Ireland, Sub-Terrain, and The Saranac Review. His previous poetry collection was entitled Imaginary Maps (2009).

This year's Award for Poetry is sponsored by:

Next: the finalists for Non-Fiction