Sylvia Legris


Griffin Poetry Prize 2006
Canadian Winner

Book: Nerve Squall

Poet: Sylvia Legris

Publisher: Coach House Books

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.



Sylvia Legris is originally from Winnipeg and now lives in Saskatoon. Nerve Squall is her third book of poetry, and in addition to the Griffin Poetry Prize, it has also garnered the 2006 Pat Lowther Memorial Award and is nominated for a Saskatchewan Book Award. Her poems have been published in many journals, including Border Crossings, Room of One’s Own, and CV2. Her previous books are iridium seeds and circuitry of veins.

Legris has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Small Presses Series and in 2001 won the Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize for Fishblood Sky. Legris also received an Honourable Mention in the poetry category of the 2004 National Magazine Awards.

Judges’ Citation

“Sylvia Legris’ high-octane poems are powered by ‘atmospheric overload’. Her eye is that of the twenty-first century – zooming from satellite to microscope – but her focus and coherence are increasingly rare in this age. In her hands, language refracts in ways which break open etymology to bring us more sense rather than less. Legris’ poems build like chords from sub- to super-sonic and, even at their most rapid and heightened point, sustain the force of poetic enquiry. There is always, as she says, ‘something on your hook, you feel it’.”



The calendar marred with birds and you are kik-kik-kik-kicking all the way into June.
180 days scratched with black X’s and crow’s feet: bird-of-two-minds (goodandevil
single-minded bird (plotting the sky).

… birds … notorious … birds (… ruffled feathers and fiendish …)

Rain-divining ducks; rain-murderous blackbirds, hollering hollering from sunrise to sunrise.
Long day after longest day of wing-striped sky, sun eclipsed by featuers. Blue-black,
antigen-tinged half moons under your eyes. Beleagured just by thoughts
of countless birds, prospects of an entire summer riddled with peck-marks and quills …

Even under closed eyes: oneiric birds; four stages of sleep, each one soaring you deeper
And deeper into raptor-psyche: Cooper’s hawk, Red-tailed hawk, Black-shouldered kite

… getting sleepy … sleepier …

From Nerve Squall
Copyright © Sylvia Legris, 2005

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