14 December 2020

Toronto poet Mark Truscott wins inaugural Nelson Ball Prize for his book Branches

On the evening of December 14, during a Zoom gathering, Toronto poet Mark Truscott was awarded the first Nelson Ball Prize for his 2018 collection Branches, from Book*hug. The prize comes with a commemorative plaque and $1,000, provided by donors from across the country.

Nelson Ball's friends Stuart Ross and Catherine Stevenson hosted the event, attended by over fifty people (not bad for a Zoom event!). The presentation featured brief reading by all five shortlisted poets: Cameron Anstee, Mike Barnes, Susan Gillis, Thomas King, and Truscott. Bookseller and Nelson friend James McDonald read the thoughtful citations he and co-judge Beverley Daurio, the Toronto writer and onetime publisher, prepared.

I will be posting all the citation, as well as the recording of the Zoom event, soon. For now, here are James and Bev's words on the winning book:

The opening lines of Branches—one line per page—are about a line (or is it a branch?). We inch along, searching for definition in the oscillating throw of metaphor: "a branch like a line like a branch". The desire to know, that exilic quality of the mind, is an old drama, and in Branches, Truscott enacts the wanderings of the mind with single intent, and finds in the poetic line a direction home, a way of going further in the direction of what is to be thought, the direction that goes in both directions simultaneously. This book gives moving testimony of the need for poetry. For this reason, and so many others that you must discover by reading the book, we have chosen Branches by Mark Truscott as the winner of the Nelson Ball Prize for this inaugural year.  

More info coming soon! And stay tuned for information on how to submit 2020 titles for the Nelson Ball Prize.

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