Sadiqa de Meijer, Kingston-based author, and poet has won the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Non-Fiction Category for her book alfabet / alphabet.
The book alfabet / alphabet is the record of Sadiqa de Meijer’s transition from speaking Dutch to English. She explores identity, landscape, family, and translation; the essays navigate the shifting cultural currents of language by using an eclectic approach to storytelling. As such, fellow linguistic migrants to anglophone Canada will recognize elements of their experience in alfabet / alphabet, while lifelong English speakers will perceive their mother tongue in a new light according to the de Meijer’s publicist.
“After my first book of poetry came out, I was asked a few times how my first language influences me as a writer in English. My attempts to answer that question slowly evolved into a project unto themselves; that is how alfabet/alphabet originated,” de Meijer said.
“The creative process was a matter of writing many short notes to myself: bits of remembering, observations, questions–eventually these progressed to short, lyric essays that, once there were twenty-six, I arranged in a Dutch-English alphabet.”
Sadiqa de Meijer is the author of the poetry collections Leaving Howe Island and The Outer Wards. Her work has won the CBC Poetry Prize and Arc’s Poem of the Year Contest in 2012 for her book Great Aunt Unmarried, Pat Lowther Memorial Award. She lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario.
She is currently working on a new collection of essays, as well as a poetry collection.
A total of 70 books were selected for the award across seven categories in French and English. The Governor General’s Literary Award is one of the oldest prizes in literary content in Canada. The winners this year will receive $25,000 each.