Governor General’s Literary Awards
“MacAskill brings the mythological Niobe back from the contempt of history to play the role of emissary. It is a book about how mothers become what they love, as well as a survival story: how not to turn to stone. The stolen child haunts the lines, a deep defiance burdened by hope. This rare achievement combines formal poetic mastery with honesty and vulnerability.”
—Peer assessment committee members: Joe Denham and Stewart Donovan
Shadow Blight considers the pain and isolation of pregnancy loss through the lens of classical myth. Drawing on the stories of Niobe—whose monumental suffering at the loss of her children literally turned her to stone—and others, this collection explores the experience of being swept away by grief and silenced by the world. Skirting the tropes (“o how beautiful / the poets make our catastrophes”), MacAskill interweaves the ancient with the contemporary in a way that opens possibilities and offers a new language for those “shut up in stillness.”
Annick MacAskill is a poet and translator. She holds a PhD in French literature and was Arc Poetry Magazine’s poet-in-residence for 2021–22. She has published two poetry collections, Murmurations and No Meeting Without Body, the latter of which was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and shortlisted for the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award. Her poetry has appeared in publications across Canada and abroad, and she is a member of the Room Magazine Editorial Collective and sits on Goose Lane’s icehouse poetry board. Annick MacAskill lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she teaches French language and literature at Saint Mary’s University.
Photo: Nolan Natasha
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