Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
English Professor Kathleen McConnell’s poetry manuscript “The Point of This Whole Implausible Set-up” has won the 2012 Alfred G. Bailey Prize.
"It takes me so long to push a manuscript into shape that by the time it's sent out, I have no real sense of whether it will appeal to anyone, anymore,” she said. “Winning this prize shows that someone out there likes me, and where there's one person, maybe more will follow!"
The Writers Federation of New Brunswick awards the prize annually to the best unpublished poetry manuscript. The prize is named after Alfred G. Bailey, who was an ethnohistorian, anthropologist, university builder and administrator, and among the first of Canada's "modernist" poets.
Poet Sandra Ridley, the competition’s judge, described the manuscript as being a “clever layering of thematic focus.”
“Each section unfolds a mysterious serial composition with breath-taking cadence and emotional impact,” Ridley said.
“This is a book of movement and transformation. Innovative and dextrous in its tethering of references - including David Hume, William Drummond of Hawthornden castle, the three Fates, and the court proceedings of a violent crime - there is much at work and, at stake, here. Throughout, poems are imbued with rigor, torque and candour—revealing complicated truths about human estrangement and suffering, and our want for understanding.”
McConnell’s manuscript was also one of six (out of sixty) selected as a finalist for the 2012 Robert Kroetsch Award for experimental poetry.
McConnell, who is affectionally known at STU as Kathy Mac, teaches creative writing and English literature at St. Thomas University, where she also chairs the English Department. She has published several poetry books and has won the Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada and the Joseph Howe Poetry Award. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award.