Vancouver poet Jillian Christmas and UBC creative writing professor Ian Williams win national awards

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      The League of Canadian Poets has honoured two Vancouverites with its 2021 Book Awards.

      The Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award is for spoken word poetry. It went to Jillian Christmas, the Vancouver-based former artistic director of the Verses Festival of Words.

      Christmas's first poetry collection is The Gospel of Breaking.

      The other winner with a Vancouver connection is Ian Williams, a UBC associate professor of creative writing. He captured the 2021 Raymond Souster Award for Word Problems, which was published last year by Coach House Books.

      It includes poems that use grade-school math and grammar lessons to solve monumentally challenging problems facing society, such as racial inequality and troubled relationships.

      Williams is also a poetry professor at the University of Toronto.

      Ian Williams won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2019.
      Justin Morris/League of Canadian Poets

      One of his previous poetry collections, Personals, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize.

      In 2019, Williams won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his debut novel, Reproduction. It focused on a cross-cultural family in Brampton, which is his hometown.

      The League of Canadian Poets announced two other prizes today.

      The 2021 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award went to Bertrand Bickersteth for The Response of Weeds, published by NeWest Press. Bertrand, who was born in Sierra Leone, explores in the book what it's like being Black in Alberta.

      The 2021 Pat Lowther Memorial Award was presented to Noor Naga for Washes, Prays, which was published by McClelland & Stewart. It's a novel-in-verse about a young immigrant woman in Toronto. Naga lived in Toronto for many years and now makes her home in Cairo.