Writers' Trust Awards $139,000 to Canadian Writers

André Alexis, Annabel Lyon, Richard Wagamese among night's big winners

TORONTO, Nov. 3, 2015 /CNW/ - Tonight in Toronto's Glenn Gould Studio, the Writers' Trust of Canada presented six literary awards and $139,000 to Canadian writers. The Writers' Trust Awards ceremony is one of the richest literary prize-giving events in Canada. The Writers' Trust supports Canadian writers through ongoing initiatives that include a total of ten national literary awards, as well as financial grants, scholarships, and a writers' retreat.

André Alexis (Toronto) received the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Fifteen Dogs, a contemporary take on the apologue, in which 15 dogs are given human consciousness. Alexis has been nominated for this prize twice before: in 1998 for Childhood and in 2014 for Pastoral.

The $10,000 Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize went to Deirdre Dore (Nakusp, BC) for "The Wise Baby," in which a hardworking philosophy student finds meaning through the baby next door. 

Four authors received awards for their contributions to Canadian literature through a body of work: Jan Thornhill (Havelock, ON), the author and illustrator of numerous science and nature books for children, won the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People; Karen Solie (Toronto), author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, was awarded the $25,000 Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize; Annabel Lyon (New Westminster, BC), author of two novels as well as novellas and story collections, took home the $25,000 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award; Richard Wagamese (Kamloops, BC), whose writing career has spanned more than 30 years, received the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life.

The event, which was attended by more than 250 guests from the literary, arts, and media communities, was hosted by author and journalist Elizabeth Renzetti.

Below are the prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. Complete jury citations are available at writerstrust.com.

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize ($25,000)
Winner: André Alexis for Fifteen Dogs (Coach House Books)

"A beautifully written allegory for our times…Fifteen Dogs is an original and vital work written by a master craftsman: philosophy given a perfect form."

Finalists:

  • Elizabeth Hay for His Whole Life (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Pamela Mordecai for Red Jacket (TAP Books)
  • Russell Smith for Confidence (Biblioasis)
  • John Vaillant for The Jaguar's Children (Knopf Canada)

Each of the four finalists received $2,500. The winner and finalists were chosen by a jury composed of writers Aislinn Hunter, Shani Mootoo, and Richard Wagamese. They read 127 books from 50 publishers. The prize is sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc.

Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize ($10,000)
Awarded for the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine.

Winner: Deirdre Dore for "The Wise Baby" (Geist)
"The storytelling offers sprawling pleasures, including dead-on dialogue, a cast of strangely compelling beautiful losers, and an imaginative and original voice the reader will return to with pleasure."

Finalists:

  • Emily Bossé for "Last Animal Standing on Gentleman's Farm" (The Fiddlehead)
  • Anna Ling Kaye for "Red Egg and Ginger" (Prairie Fire)

Each of the finalists received $1,000, and the journal that originally published the winning entry received $2,000. The finalists were chosen by a jury composed of writers Anthony De Sa, Tanis Rideout, and Carrie Snyder. The prize is made possible by James A. Michener's donation of his Canadian royalty earnings from his 1988 novel Journey. In association with the prize, McClelland & Stewart publishes an annual fiction anthology, The Journey Prize Stories, a collection of the 12 stories that formed the longlist for the prize.

Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People ($20,000)
Awarded for a body of work to a writer of literature for young readers.

Winner: Jan Thornhill
"With clarity and grace, Jan Thornhill's books use both art and text to draw children into a closer and more understanding relationship with the natural world."

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Gwyneth Evans, Marthe Jocelyn, and Susan Perren. The prize is sponsored by the Metcalf Foundation.

Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize ($25,000)
Awarded for a body of work to a poet in mid-career.

Winner: Karen Solie
"Solie has garnered respect for her commitment to poetry, her intelligence, her maturity of perception and emotion, her take-it-or-leave-it-honesty, and, of course, her humour…She writes from inside of us, with a voice as disarming, insistent, and unpredictable as consciousness itself."

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of poets A.F. Moritz, Susan Musgrave, and Ian Williams. The prize is sponsored by the Latner Family Foundation.

Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award ($25,000)
Awarded for a body of work to a writer in mid-career.

Winner: Annabel Lyon
"Annabel Lyon's fiction has an extraordinary compressed force…These are books distinguished by wit, note-perfect dialogue, and a trenchant grasp of history. We look forward eagerly to the next."

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of writers David Chariandy, Russell Smith, and Joan Thomas. The prize is sponsored by the Writers' Trust of Canada Board of Directors, Amazon.ca, the Pitblado Family Foundation, and the Michael Griesdorf Fund.

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)
Awarded for a body of work to a writer dedicated to writing as a primary pursuit.

Winner: Richard Wagamese
"Over a career spanning more than 30 years and numerous honours, Richard Wagamese has become a vital voice in Canadian letters. It is with great pleasure that we present him with the 2015 Matt Cohen Award."

The winner was chosen by an award committee composed of Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, Wayne Grady, and Don Oravec. The prize is sponsored by Marla and David Lehberg.

The Writers' Trust Awards ceremony is made possible through generous support from corporate, foundation, and individual sponsors. Media partner The Globe and Mail provides additional support. The project is partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage Canada Book Fund. Other supporting partners are Ben McNally Books, City TV, IFOA, Maclean's, Push Design, Quill & Quire, and Steam Whistle Brewing.

About the Writers' Trust
The Writers' Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers' retreat. Writers' Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada's writers receive more financial support from the Writers' Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.

SOURCE The Writers' Trust of Canada

For further information: and interview opportunities contact: Becky Toyne, 416-871-0502, bt@beckytoyne.com

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