Announcing the Winners of the 2023 Austin Clarke Prize

We're so pleased to announce the winners of the third annual Austin Clarke Prize in Literary Excellence! Chosen by Cody Caetano (fiction) and Billy-Ray Belcourt (poetry), here are the winners and runners-up of each category:

Fiction: "Bedtime Routine" by Zoe Greenberg

Little technically happens in this year's winner, "Bedtime Routine." The few characters included are either sleeping or only briefly mentioned. Yet by sitting completely still, the story slows down time long enough to groove into the powerful, unmatched consciousness of a mother, a divorcee, a graduate student, a newcomer to Montreal, and a single human animal, one who knows how to coexist in multiple, seemingly-contradictory realms. A taut and profound glimpse into but one mind in the hive. - Cody Caetano

  • Runner-Up: "A Moment for Indra Singh" by Trent Lewin

A eulogy that doubles as an ode to storytelling before the opening sentence ends, the truly honorable mention that is "A Moment for Indra Singh" finds Arvinder tracing, channelling, and then ultimately accepting the lingering impression that the titular, vanishing Indra has left. Complete awe I felt through, between, and because of Indra and Arvinder, the former’s quest to figure out “what we were” straddling the line that separates reality from imagination. This pawing embrace of a stranger winks the reader off to Indra and Arvinder's mesmerizing world, one that had me glowing after the end. A moment indeed. - Cody Caetano

Poetry: "Praise Us, For We Are Dead" by Fareh Malik

As I read this beautiful poem, entire worlds bristled in my mind. The narrative space of the poem is meticulously managed and the images and metaphors both stun and console. Eventually, miraculously, the poem becomes its own subject: “a / small / act of [a] body / trying to / give someone / a home…” I had to read it several times — to let it change me, to be sure I was in a place to be changed. This is no small feat. - Billy-Ray Belcourt

  • Runner-Up: "inheritance" by Nikki Ummel

I love how formally ambitious this poem is. I love that it insists on its own mystery and possibility (for the answers are not really answers but whole realms of possibility). What the poet does include as text moved me deeply. I left with the desire to read more, to keep reading toward the feelings the poem nurtured inside me. - Billy-Ray Belcourt

    Congratulations to these writers, and many thanks to all who submitted. Make sure to read these prize-winning pieces in our fall issue, coming out Monday!

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