The Fiddlehead Poetry Book Prize

The Fiddlehead Poetry Book Prize recognizes the best book of poetry published by a New Brunswick resident in a given year. Since 2016 the $500 prize has been sponsored by The Fiddlehead: Atlantic Canada's International Literary Journal. Established in 1945, The Fiddlehead is Canada's oldest literary journal, and it pages have featured a who's who of Canadian Literature.

2023 Shortlisted Titles:

Matthew Gwathmey, Tumbling for Amateurs (Coach House Books); Fredericton

Allan Cooper, The Face of Everything (Pottersfield Press); Riverview

Fawn Parker, Soft Inheritance (Palimpsest Press); Fredericton

2022 Award Winner: Sue Sinclair 

Almost Beauty

Goose Lane

Judge Weyman Chan's Comments: "At surface glance, a Sue Sinclair poem draws its quotidian lines plainly. Then, as you dive deeper, ontological arguments of growth versus death, change versus integrity, proceed in whispers. The force of what it is to exist, consecrates the reader: “In the ruptured darkness / we grasp what we can and look within.” While her book Almost Beauty: New and Selected Poems might be viewed as a best hits album, the consistent tone and range of these pieces are cumulatively stunning. The poet stays clear of sentiment, leaving stacked perspectives to tease out for her what it is to “anchor yourself / more firmly to the ground”. Cohesively, the author wins rare gems in plain sight. Quiet leaps in felt circumstance clarify for the reader “The density of being here, our lives an unearned / rescue.” Sinclair tempers then hones her empathic eye over humanity’s mistakes and hopes, “fascinated / by themselves and a little / ashamed.”

Other Finalists

Amber McMillan
This is a Stick-Up

Wolsak and Wynn

Michael Pacey
Wild Apples: A Dialogue with Thoreau

Pottersfield Press

2021 Awards

Winner: Triny Finlay

Myself a Paper Clip

Goose Lane

Judge Isabella Yang's Comments: "Myself a paperclip is an extraordinary, moving collection that resonated and comforted me across the duration of several months while judging this book award. The polyphony of experiences juggling the complexities of mental health within the psych ward offer a rare and urgent representation of the feelings, agency, and storied narratives of those in their most vulnerable; however, the voices here exhibit nothing but great tenacity, wit, and a courage that remains firmly grounded in the memory accounts of the body at times when a sense of physical grounding might feel challengingly remote.

Finlay adopts an original form of the serial poem punctuated by the pace of vertical ellipses. These poems resist dichotomies and systemic nullification. They also perform a precise expression of the non-linear, fragmented progressions of time that accompanies mental illnesses through their periods of dissociation, loss, struggle, and recovery. It is a book that, in my opinion, speaks to the experiences of those—both patients and caregivers—familiar with broader forms of inpatient care and seeking care within hospital units as well."

Other Finalists

Rebecca Salazar

McLelland & Stewart

Jane Tims
a glimpse of water fall


2020 Awards

Winner: Allan Cooper

Waiting for the Small Ship of Desire

Pottersfield Press

Judge Yusuf Saadi's Comments: "Cooper’s poems brim with emotion and suggestion; they sometimes break up on the shores of the rational into the almost mystical. He leans into mystery with startling lines: “I wonder if my father, after he died, / woke up as a small boy again / eating at his parent’s table” or a song in which one can “hear the sadness breaking open / to become … a midnight / train.” These poems are personal, often retrospective, tracing the “changing faces of desire” over a lifetime. There are images and poems here that I would like to keep with me."

Other Finalists

M. Travis Lane
Keeping Count

Gordon Hill Press

Emily Skov-Neilsen
The Knowing Animals

Brick Books

2019 Awards

Winner: Jennifer Houle
Signature Editions

Judge D.A. Lockhart's comments: "This collection is stunning in its exquisite feminine beauty and strength. There is depth, almost a vastness, with which these poems read. The reader finds themselves swimming in a beautiful and sensual universe. One becomes intertwined with myth, with the stars above, with the young poet, with the wise poet, and comes away with a sort of experience reading one of the finest collections of poetry can garner. This is poetry that is beautiful, engaging, approachable, and highly memorable."

Other Finalists

Lucas Crawford
Belated Bris of the Brainsick
Nightwood Editions

Mathew Gwathmey
Our Latest in Folktales
Brick Books

2018 Awards

Winner: Jenna Lyn Albert
Bec & Call
Nightwood Editions

Other Finalists

Herménégilde Chiasson
(trans. Jo-Anne Elder)
To Live and Die in Scoudouc
Goose Lane Editions

Kayla Geitzler
That Light Feeling Under Your Feet
NeWest Press

2017 Awards

Winner: Allan Cooper
Everything We Love Comes Back to Find Us
Gaspereau Press

Other Finalists

Wayne Clifford
Flying the Truck
New Brunswick Museum

Kathy Mac
Human Misunderstanding

2016 Awards

Winner: M. Travis Lane
The Witch of the Inner Wood.
Goose Lane Editions

Other Finalists

Wayne Clifford
The Exile's Papers
Porcupine's Quill

Robert Moore
Based on Actual Events
Signal Editions

2015 Awards

Winner: M. Travis Lane

Other Finalists

Phillip Crymble
Not Even Laughter
Salmon Poetry

Michael Pacey
Electric Affinities
Signature Editions


2023 - Bertrand Bickersteth

Bertrand Bickersteth  is the author of The Response of Weeds. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including GeistThe Walrus, and Grain. He is currently working on a collection of poems on Black cowboys. He lives in Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary) and teaches at Olds College, both in Treaty 7 Territory. 

2022 - Weyman Chan

2021 - Isabella Yang

2020 - Yusuf Saadi
2019 - D.A. Lockhart
2018 - Evelyn Lau
2017 - Susan Gillis
2015 - Anita Lahey

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