ABMBP 2020


Winner of the 2020 Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize for the Environmental Humanities and Creative Writing.

This year’s Bondar Prize committee feels honoured to have read all of the amazing submissions. We are truly impressed with the range of vibrant eco-cultural work from those affiliated with our organization. Indeed, our only regret is that we were in the unenviable position of having to narrow this eclectic and fascinating list down! Nonetheless, we have decided upon a winner and a shortlist of four honourable mentions. The committee congratulates all entrants on their thoughtful and compelling books.

 WINNER: Adam Dickinson

Adam Dickinson, Anatomic. Coach House Books, 2018.

Inverting ecopoetry’s concern with human effects on the environment, this ground-breaking collection looks at what the environment—especially its toxic and parasitic components—is doing to us: “I want to know the stories of [the] chemicals, metals, and organisms that compose me. I am an event, a site within which the industrial powers and evolutionary pressures of my time come to write.” Dickinson’s poetic “report” on hundreds of lab tests on his own secretions and physiological samples reveals the secret life of the body, its permeability to herbicides and flame retardants, the legion of microbes that populate it. Likewise recalling actual incidents of poisonings and chemical spills, Anatomic reminds us that “in necessary ways and in toxic ways, the outside doctors the inside.” Provocative in its experimental and multimedia form as it is compelling in its disquieting message, Anatomic is a game-changer in ecopoetics. 


Jonathan Clapperton and Liza Piper

Book cover image for: Environmental Activism on the Ground: Small Green and Indigenous Organizing

Jonathan Clapperton and Liza Piper, eds. Environmental Activism on the GroundSmall Green and Indigenous Organizing. University of Calgary Press, 2019.

This collection of interdisciplinary essays by American, Canadian, and Indigenous contributors examines the change brought about by “small-scale, localized environmental activists, including Indigenous activists, from the late twentieth into the twenty-first century” (3). The chapters in the first half of the volume, which are based on geographically diverse comparative case studies, explore the successes of small-scale organizations vis-à-vis the perceived failure of large-scale environmentalism to achieve ecological sustainability. Each chapter in the second half of the collection aims “to deepen our understanding of how small green activism changed and influenced change over time” (12). This eye-opening and innovative approach to understanding the achievements of non-mainstream environmentalism will engage and inspire a wide range of scholars and activists.

Ariel Gordon

Ariel Gordon, Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests. Wolsak and Wynn Publishers, 2019.

In Treeda collection of essays shortlisted for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award 2020, Ariel Gordon takes the reader on a journey through Winnipeg’s urban forests, BC’s Northern Rockies, rural Manitoba, and Banff National Park. On her nature walks Gordon focusses on the lives of trees and their declining health as a result of harmful human intervention. Balancing science writing with personal anecdote, Gordon shares her reflections on the human relationship to the more-than-human world in a compelling, humorous, and thought provoking way.

Emily McGiffin


Emily McGiffin, Of Land, Bones, and Money: Toward a South African Ecopoetics. University of Virginia Press, 2019.

McGiffin’s account of the role of the iimbongi—the oral poets of the amaXhosa people—provides a welcome, historically grounded introduction to the environmental and social justice concerns of contemporary South Africa. Treating issues like mining and urban development, McGiffin highlights the ways in which European colonialism and its aftermaths have affected the role of the iimbongi and its relationship to power, privilege, and resistance, especially with regard to gendered violence. This book is an important contribution to thinking environmental concerns in diverse global contexts. A glossary and appendices provide useful tools for a North American readership.

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Brent Ryan Bellamy

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Brent Ryan Bellamy, eds., An Ecotopian Lexicon. University of Minnesota Press, 2019.

Confronting the paucity of language for the Anthropocene, An Ecotopian Lexicon offers a treasure trove of terms, from Melody Jue’s “~*~,” a loanword from dolphin language, to Cherice Bock’s “watershed discipleship,” a practice inspired by Christian traditions—and many points in between. Featuring a foreword by renowned science fiction novelist and essayist Kim Stanley Robinson, the book combines writing and image to produce an indispensable guide to the present. The editors’ excellent introduction frames this “grounded yet vertiginous” collection with an urgent and rousing invitation to adapt and adopt—and invent anew. 

A big thank you to this year’s prize committee members: Molly Wallace, Petra Fachinger, Odile Cisneros

The biennial award is named in honour of Dr. Alanna F. Bondar (1968-2014), an ecocritic, ecofeminist, poet, teacher, and founding member of The Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada / L’Association pour la literature, l’environment et la culture au Canada (ALECC). Alanna was an Associate Professor of English at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and the author of the narrative poetic work There are many ways to die while travelling in Peru (Your Scrivener Press, 2011), as well as many scholarly publications. Alanna was also a passionate educator, writer, gardener and knitter.

In honour of Alanna, a cash prize of $500 will be adjudicated by an ALECC committee and awarded every two years at the ALECC biennial conference. A call for nominations for our next award, for books published in 2019 and 2020, will be issued in the fall of 2021. The next award will be announced at ALECC’s 2022 conference, location to be announced.

One prize will be awarded biennially. In the spirit of Alanna Bondar’s own work, the committee seeks to award the prize to provocative, original, and stimulating books on environmental topics. Interdisciplinary works with a broad appeal within and beyond environmental humanities are also sought, as are books with the potential to engage a broader public, as well as students across a range of disciplines and levels. Genres can include fiction, poetry, drama, creative non-fiction, scholarly monographs, and edited collections.

Eligible authors must be Canadian or live in Canada. Books may be nominated by publishers or ALECC members. Nominated authors or collection editors must be ALECC or ALECC-affiliated association members by February 1st of the designated prize year.

If you would like to make a donation to the prize fund, please do so below.