I am deeply grateful to Asha Jeffers, Shannon Webb-Campbell, and Virginia Konchan, the jurors for this year’s J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award, awarded annually to the best poetry collection written by an Atlantic Canadian Author. Though I didn’t win the award, I’m deeply honoured to be among such company (Afua Cooper and shalan joudry were the other nominees). Congrats to Afua Cooper for a well-deserved win for her new collection, Black Matters.
Prizes aside, the jury citation is simply one of the most sophisticated and insightful statements ever written about my work. We get into this not for the prizes, but because we dream to connect to readers in this way, to have our work vivisected in all its bruised difficulty and slanted truth. So, here, in full, is the jury citation:
“Equal parts a lyric history of Canada’s petroculture and a necropastoral with wings, David Huebert’s Humanimus offers its reader a brilliant, learned, exquisitely crafted, and ingenious toxicology report on our contemporary landscape, both literary and ecological, and yet the tone is less doomsday prophecy than it is barbed with wit and song. Female personages ranging from Sigmund Freud’s mother, Beethoven’s lover, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, and “Miss Trans-Canada” abound, and the sheer inventiveness of Huebert’s verse (which invokes and reimagines such poets as Milton, Whitman, Stevens, Eliot, Donne, and Dickinson) is encapsulated in his title and epigraph (the ‘humanimalchine’), suggesting that language play and clever neologisms such as these point us toward a ‘phonemevolution’ between texts, and human and non-human ontologies, that is already well underway. Unparalleled in its brio, deft and muscular in its canonical revisionings, Humanimus carries us from Newfoundland winters and the “belligerent Atlantic” to the otherness of animals—owls, scorpions, bears, wild horses—before leaving us, dazzled and unsettled, on the steep ridge where language and perception meet, ‘spinning back to origin,’ and ‘soaring . . . on the roar of the world.”