Five poets vie for $6,000 prize

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Canada Writes and its partners have announced the shortlist of five finalists in the 2011-2012 English-language poetry prize – and an Ontario poet has cracked the line-up.

Sadiqa de Meijer of Kingston has earned a spot among this year’s finalists for her work, Great Aunt Unmarried. She joins Stephanie Bolster of Montreal (Long Exposure), Emily McGiffin of Smithers, B.C. (Stikine Country), Catherine Greenwood of Victoria, B.C. (The Texada Queen) and Marion Quednau of Mission, B.C. (Yesterday, I Looked Inside) vying for $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Grand Prize also includes a two-week writing residency at The Banff Centre and publication in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine. Other finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, and will be published on the Canada Writes website, starting this week. 

The winner selected by the CBC Poetry jury — writers Julie Bruck, Patrick Lane and Dennis Lee — will be announced on Tuesday, September 25.

Canada Writes has also launched its competition for the CBC Short Story Prize, with a submission deadline of November 1.

Open to all Canadians, the prize is awarded annually to the best original, unpublished, short story submitted, as judged by a jury of well-known and respected Canadian authors. Submissions must be between 1,200 and 1,500 words. There is a $25 entry fee.

The Grand Prize winner will receive $6,000, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts, and will have his or her story published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and on the Canada Writes website. The winner will also be awarded a two-week residency at The Banff Centre’s Leighton Artists’ Colony, and will be interviewed on CBC Radio.

The four runners-up will each receive $1,000, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts, and their stories will be published on the Canada Writes website.

Further information is available at the Canada Writes website.

Giller jury unveils its 2012 longlist

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The Scotiabank Giller Prize jury has announced its longlist of 13 books that are in the running for this year’s prize. The books were selected from 142 competitors put forward by 51 Canadian publishers from across the country.

Started in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his wife, the late literary journalist Doris Giller, the annual prize recognizes the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. This year’s jurors are Dublin author and screen writer Roddy Doyle; Toronto publisher, writer and essayist Anna Porter; and New York author and satirist Gary Shteyngart.

Several Ontario writers made this first cut for the prestigious award. Toronto residents Cary Fagan, Robert Hough, Katrina Onstad and CS Richardson join the pool of talented authors vying for the $50,000 prize.

On October 1, finalists will be announced at a news conference in Toronto. The 2012 winner will then be crowned at a televised ceremony in Toronto on October 30.

Claiming a place on this year’s longlist are:

  • Marjorie Celona for her novel Y, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada
  • Lauren B. Davis for her novel Our Daily Bread, published by HarperCollins Canada
  • Cary Fagan for his short story collection My Life Among the Apes, published by Cormorant Books
  • Will Ferguson for his novel 419, published by Viking Canada
  • Robert Hough for his novel Dr. Brinkley’s Tower, published by House of Anansi Press
  • Billie Livingston for her novel One Good Hustle, published by Random House Canada
  • Annabel Lyon for her novel The Sweet Girl, published by Random House Canada
  • Alix Ohlin for her novel Inside, published by House of Anansi Press
  • Katrina Onstad for her novel Everybody Has Everything, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • CS Richardson for his novel The Emperor of Paris, published by Doubleday Canada
  • Nancy Richler for her novel The Imposter Bride, published by HarperCollins Canada
  • Kim Thúy for her novel Ru, translated by Sheila Fischman, published by Random House Canada
  • Russell Wangersky for his short story collection Whirl Away, published by Thomas Allen Publishers

Libraries could open portal to indie ebook exposure

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Libraries are finding innovative ways to circumvent the restrictions imposed by big publishers so they can enhance their ebook offerings for members. And there’s one recent trend that should be flashing on the radar of indie authors.

Good e-Reader reports that the Washington County Library System is reaching out to local authors, inviting them to submit their own novels in electronic format to add to the existing library system.

It is not alone.

The system developed its “Library Local Connect” program after hearing of a similar initiative in Colorado. It hopes to give worthy local authors some much-needed exposure, while at the same time beefing up its ebook inventory.

“We’ve always been very concerned about making everybody’s works accessible,” said Joe Manion, the system’s director of public services director. “What’s a little bit more difficult is to find the small author, the author who is getting started, the author who is local – but now we have the ebook revolution.”

By linking local writers and readers, they’re hoping to build a bridge to the next best seller.

The system has developed criteria to ensure the quality of submissions, and it’s working to improve the process with an automated submission tool.

Maybe this is something aspiring e-authors should discuss with their own local libraries.

Durham freelancer honoured by outdoor writers

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Durhamregion.com reports that Newcastle writer Tom Doyle has won the Pete McGillen Award for stimulating interest and appreciation of the outdoors while demonstrating high standards of craftsmanship during his professional career.

Presented by the Outdoor Writers of Canada, the annual award recognizes a member whose writing career best reflects the organization’s aims and objectives. In the doing, it honours the memory of one of Canada’s best-known outdoor writers.

An avid bowman and big-game hunter himself, Doyle began his successful freelance career writing features for Ontario Out of Doors Magazine. He rose to become field editor, and then a columnist in the archery department. He has presented archery seminars and volunteered for the Outdoor Writers of Canada for years.

Leo (Pete) McGillen (1908 – 1973) was the full-time Outdoors Editor of The Toronto Telegram, the first such position of its kind on a daily newspaper in Canada. He also served as the City Editor for The Peterborough Examiner for 11 years. He broadcast a weekly outdoors show, “Outdoors with Pete McGillen”, over CFRB radio in Toronto and was a regular contributor to the CBC Sportsmen’s Show on radio. According to a Canadian Press survey of the day, he was “the most widely quoted outdoor writer in Canada.”

Doyle points to the list of writers who have won the award over the years.

“When I look at the people who went before me who got this..,” Mr. Doyle told Durhamregion.com. “It’s for a (lifetime) body of work. It’s not for a piece. It’s quite an achievement.”

Useful blogs for creative writers

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Poet, novelist, short story crafter, screen writer or blogger – you’re bound to find something useful in the updated list of Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs compiled by BestCollegesOnline.com.

Although the list has a U.S.-focus, it is wide-ranging enough to offer plenty of food for thought and inspiration for writers everywhere.

BestCollegesOnline.com provides guides, news, tips and rankings to help its followers find online academic programs that will prepare them to compete for exciting careers.

Poetry hits chord at Trillium book fest

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The night sang with poetry this week as Ontario presented its Trillium book awards at a dinner in Toronto.

Poet Phil Hall of Perth took home a $20,000 prize as winner of the Trillium Book Award in English-language. His book, Killdeer, was published by BookThug of Toronto. Killdeer also received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry last fall and was short-listed for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize.

In the separate English-language poetry category, honours went to Toronto’s Nick Thran and his publisher Nightwood Editions for Earworm.

Ottawa writer Michèle Vinet’s managed to crack the line-up with her novel Jeudi Novembre, which was named best French-language book. Fellow Ottawa resident Sonia Lamontagne’s quickly re-versed the theme, however, with À tire d’ailes, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in French-language.

Sudbury’s Editions Prise de parole was the publisher for both French-language winners.

The Wednesday event marked the 25th anniversary of the awards. As part of the celebrations, Open Book ran a public contest to select the favourite French and English titles from the previous 24 years’ winners. From a list of public picks, a celebrity critics’ panel selected Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (McClelland & Stewart) as their favourite in the English language category. A panel of students from The Toronto French School, meanwhile, selected Les Rebuts : Hockey 2 by Paul Prud’Homme (Les Éditions du Vermillon) as the best of the best in the French language.

Trillium Book Award winners each receive $20,000, while their publishers receive $2,500 toward their promotional costs. The two Poetry Award winners each receive $10,000 and their publishers receive $2,000. All finalists receive a $500 honorarium.

Publishers’ rep loses federal funding

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The sales and marketing co-operative representing 47 independent Canadian publishers has lost its federal funding, forcing it to shut down its sales force and lay off most of its staff.

Quill and Quire says the Literary Press Group has confirmed a denial of funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, its largest single revenue source and provider of about a third of its operating budget. Last year, the department provided $235,000  through its Canada Book Fund.

The federal agency gave no explanation for its decision to deny support this year, nor why it chose to sit on the devastating news until now, two months into the fiscal year. Ironically, on the same day it notified the LPG of its decision, it announced an $80,000 Canada Book Fund grant to the Saskatchewan Publishers Group Inc. “to foster a viable Canadian book industry that publishes and markets Canadian-authored books.”

In response to the unexpected shortfall, the 37-year-old LPG plans to dismantle its sales force, with all five field reps being let go on Aug. 31. Most of the remaining head office staff will follow at the end of November.

The sales force currently represents nearly 225 fall titles, which it will continue to promote to booksellers and libraries until the layoffs occur. After that, publishers will have to decide on a new course for national representation.

Funding for the Group’s distribution arm, LitDistCo, has not been affected and its operations will continue as usual.

In a statement on its website, the LPG said:

In a body blow to Canada’s independent literary publishers, on Monday, June 4, 2012, the Literary Press Group (LPG) of Canada received word that the Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH) has ended its financial support of the LPG’s activities for the fiscal year that began on April 1, 2012. As a result, the LPG will be obliged to shut down its sales force, an essential operation that brings hundreds of new Canadian-authored books from 47 Canadian-owned publishers to bookstores and libraries every year. Without the LPG, authors and publishers lose their access to their readers, and Canadian readers lose easy and affordable access to Canada’s literary culture.

The organization is fighting to have the decision reversed.