This past weekend, former Saskatchewan resident Karen Solie picked up the Griffin Poetry Prize for her collection Pigeon.
Brief Description: [Solie is a]singer of existential bewilderment takes another step forward. She finds an analog for the divine in a massive, new model tractor and an analogue for the malign in the face of the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez. Her poems are X-rays of delusions and mistaken perceptions, intellectual explorations of bad luck, creeping catastrophe, and the eros of danger come dressed to kill. Her ear is impeccable and her syntax the key to a rare, razor-sharp poetic intelligence.
Earlier this month, the Pulitzer prize was awarded in the following categories:
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
Summary: Founder of a dynasty, builder of the original Grand Central, creator of an impossibly vast fortune, Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt is an American icon. Humbly born on Staten Island during George Washington’s presidency, he rose from boatman to builder of the nation’s largest fleet of steamships to lord of a railroad empire. Lincoln consulted him on steamship strategy during the Civil War; Jay Gould was first his uneasy ally and then sworn enemy; and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States, was his spiritual counselor. We see Vanderbilt help to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation—in fact, as T. J. Stiles elegantly argues, Vanderbilt did more than perhaps any other individual to create the economic world we live in today.
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
Summary It is commonly believed that the Great Depression that began in 1929 resulted from a confluence of events beyond any one person’s or government’s control. In fact, as Liaquat Ahamed reveals, it was the decisions taken by a small number of central bankers that were the primary cause of the economic meltdown, the effects of which set the stage for World War II and reverberated for decades.
Best General Nonfiction
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman
Summary: Drawing on top-secret documents from deep inside the Kremlin, memoirs, and interviews in both Russia and the United States, David Hoffman introduces the scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies who saw the world sliding toward disaster and tells the gripping story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and many others struggled to bring the madness to an end. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the danger continued, and the United States began a race against time to keep nuclear and biological weapons out of the hands of terrorists and and rogue states.
Versed by Rae Armantrout
Summary: The invisible and unknowable are confronted directly as Armantrout's experience with cancer marks these poems with a new austerity, shot through with her signature wit and stark unsentimental thinking. Together, the poems of Versed part us from our assumptions about reality, revealing the gaps and fissures in our emotional and linguistic constructs, showing us ourselves where we are most exposed.
Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Susan McMaster
In Crossing Arcs, McMaster pairs poetry about her mother's battle with Alzheimer's with quotes from her mother's responses.
From the back cover: These laments, rants, narratives and lyrics address not only the mother's condition and its effects on those around her, but also the anxieties of the daughter, who feels herself edging towards the same abyss, while being, ironically, comforted by her mother.