Canisia Lubrin has won the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for her poetry collection THE DYZGRAPHXST — congratulations Canisia!
Internationally recognised as the leading literary award for Caribbean writers, the OCM Bocas Prize is sponsored by One Caribbean Media, the largest media house in the Caribbean and recognizes the best Caribbean writers in three categories: poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction. The genre category winners, by authors from three different Caribbean territories, will now enter the final round of judging, vying for the overall award of US$10,000. The 2021 winner will be announced during the virtual NGC Bocas Lit Fest, 23 to 25 April, 2021.

From the jury citation:

“Reading this collection makes you hold your breath and dive to the ocean-floor and emerge riding the waves,” write the judges. “A concern for our world, and a speaking out against exploitation and climate disaster, remain central, intact, and allow necessity to direct the experimentation. These are not easy poems, but there is undeniable music to them, a tidal ebb and flow beneath the complexities of language and questions of identity, place and environmental concerns.”

Canisia Lubrin is the author of two critically acclaimed collections of poetry: Voodoo Hypothesis (2017) and The Dyzgraphxst (2020). Voodoo Hypothesis, a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award (2018), is a wildly ambitious work of speculative poetics, brilliantly combining physics, philosophy, and pop culture. The book investigates, with a steady eye and deep moral seriousness, state-sanctioned violence against Black individuals and cultures—all while remaining rooted in a vision of Black diasporic aesthetics and imagination. The Dyzgraphxst continues Lubrin’s exploration of Black history and Black futurities. A single long poem that is organized into seven acts or movements, the book feels private in gesture and grand in scale, offering a piercing examination of selfhood and the forces that threaten it: “I was not myself,” a speaker worries, “I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me.” 

Born and raised in Saint Lucia, Lubrin studied in Canada, completing a BA at York University and an MFA at the University of Guelph. She teaches creative writing at OCAD University and poetry at the University of Toronto. She is also incoming poetry editor at the literary press McClelland & Stewart and has been a Writer in Residence for Queen’s University and for Poetry In Voice, an organization that sends poets into secondary school classrooms. She lives in Whitby and is represented by Samantha Haywood.

To see the full list of winners, please visit: