Winnipegger’s debut poetry collection nabs Governor General Literary Award

A Winnipegger who’s been dubbed a rising star on the Canadian literary stage has won a Governor General Literary Award.

Hannah Green is one of the 2023 recipients of the prestigious award for her debut collection of poetry “Xanax Cowboy.”

“It was obviously unexpected, but I’m really excited,” Green said in an interview Friday on CTV Morning Live Winnipeg.

Green describes “Xanax Cowboy” as a long poem that touches on mental health, addiction and isolation.

It took her about three years to write and in that time, a lot changed in the young writer’s life.

“I moved from active addiction to getting sober in it, which allowed for more perspective, as well.”

Poet Hannah Green is pictured during a Nov. 10, 2023 interview on CTV Morning Live Winnipeg. (Source: CTV News Winnipeg)

The writer said she wanted to challenge herself with this work, drawing on her own experiences to bring the eponymous character to life while experimenting with form.

“It’s basically going through her story and narrative, and it was sort of weaved in with my narrative,” she said.

“I get to have a lot of fun with form with it because it’s a character and because it’s a long poem, so I can have her Instagram feed or her e-mail exchange.”

The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

Green jokes that the Governor General jury must have been made up of ‘the three people who understood my book.’

Humour aside, the poet says she’s received countless messages from people who connected with “Xanax Cowboy.”

“I had people reach out to me and say a certain part helped them or they were going through a similar experience, which has been absolutely amazing.”

– With files from CTV’s Ainsley McPhail

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