The Quebec Writers’ Federation Awards are a series of Canadian literary awards, presented annually by the Quebec Writers’ Federation to the best works of literature in English by writers from Quebec. The A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry is one of seven categories in the annual awards.
CONGRATS to GWP poet, Sarah Wolfson!
The poems in A Common Name for Everything build idiosyncratic worlds around the themes of nature, home, parenting, and naming—worlds that are at once poignant and absurd: a professional namer of lakes explains his standards; the rural gods are given names; a study of sheep results in loneliness. Steeped in sound play and borrowing academic language to create a specimen lens, these poems bask in the local as they seek to name even the commonest earthly things.
Advance Praise for A Common Name for Everything
“In her stunning first book of poems, Sarah Wolfson drives a team of spirited horses into rural landscapes, many of which she interiorizes figuratively in ways that are wonderfully strange. In one keenly intelligent, musical poem after another, Wolfson instills her lyrical narratives about motherhood, environmental crisis, the inherent elegy of words, natural history, and poetry itself with chthonic imagery, risible asides, empirical logic, and academic nomenclature. For her, poetry itself is ‘the common name of everything,’ and from her ‘place’ she serves her reader ‘soup and small/ theories of holiness’ in evocatively specific, sublime ways. By writing from the ground and body up, Wolfson surprises herself first and then her reader with language that soars with verbal music . . . A Common Name for Everything marks the debut of an enormously talented, wise, and timely new voice. ”
—Chard deNiord, Poet Laureate of Vermont
“In A Common Name for Everything Sarah Wolfson demonstrates, again and again, an entirely uncommon talent for precise and defamiliarizing observation. At times declarative and deceptively plain, and at others more fractured and gestural, the poems in this formidable first collection are informed by a lyric sensibility that is authentic, playful, and unflinchingly direct.”
—Phillip Crymble, Poetry Editor at The Fiddlehead; author of Not Even Laughter
“I can’t remember when I last read a book of poems that provided such varied pleasures . . . But the gorgeous surfaces of Sarah Wolfson’s work—the poet’s intelligence and curiosity and wit—are not ends in themselves, but a way to get at what seems essential in the self and the world. So we learn the poet is skeptical of god ‘though not of souls,’ become acquainted with a daughter’s ‘need to wonder,’ and waken with the poet to marvel at August ‘with its great star events.’ In short, A Common Name for Everything is anything but common. I’m already eager to hear more from this poet, to be swept away again.”
—Clare Rossini, author of Lingo and Winter Morning with Crow
“. . . Humane and full of wonder even as it resists all that is inflated by romanticism, A Common Name for Everything’s insistence on Earth’s ordinary orderings doesn’t efface the deep reverence the speaker has for the same. If there’s a divine in Wolfson’s world, it’s this world itself and all that’s passing through it. In her poems’ radical adjustment of scale back to something earthly and earthy, there’s more than enough.” —Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, review excerpt from Orion
About the Author
Sarah Wolfson’s poems have appeared in Canadian and American journals including The Fiddlehead, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, PRISM international, and TriQuarterly—and they have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan. Originally from Vermont, she now lives in Montreal, where she teaches at McGill University.