Ajax girds for influx of writers

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There are just a few days left to register for the 2013 Ontario Writers’ Conference at the Deer Creek Golf and Banquet Facility in Ajax next month.

The event kicks off on Friday, May 3 with master classes for experienced writers from 1 to 4 p.m., followed by the Festival of Authors from 7 to 10 p.m. The Festival, which is open to the public, features emcee Ted Barris of Uxbridge and guest readers Miranda Hill, Ray Robertson and Susan Swan.

On Saturday, May 4, registered participants will enjoy a day of workshops and lectures, wrapped up by closing speaker Deborah Kimmett.

To register by the April 24 deadline, visit the Conference website. For the non-registered public, tickets for the Festival of Authors are $20 and available online at the conference website or by e-mailing info@thewritersconference.com.

Canadian poet takes up e-residence

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The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop will kick-off its e-Writer in Residence for the spring of 2013 at a reading/meet-and-greet session in Thunder Bay later this month.

The event, to be held April 22 at the Brodie Library, will introduce Marilyn Dumont, a Canadian poet of Cree/Métis descent, who will provide manuscript critiques and workshops for regional writers until May. On April 23, the new e-Writer in Residence will hold a poetry workshop.

Dumont is the second e-writer in residence for the writers’ group, following a successful program in 2011.

She has been published in numerous Canadian literary journals, and her work has been widely anthologized as well as broadcast on radio and television. Her first collection won the 1997 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, presented by the League of Canadian Poets, for the best first collection of poetry that year by a Canadian writer. Her second collection won the 2001 Stephan G. Stephansson Award from the Writer’s Guild of Alberta.

Dumont, who has taught at Simon Fraser University, Kwantlen University-College and the University of Alberta, has been writer-in-residence at the universities of Alberta, Windsor and Toronto and at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton.

The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop is a group of writers from the region who provide inspiration and support through workshops, a newsletter, and a writing contest.

Further information on the group and its e-Writer in Residence program is available by email at admin@nowwwriters.org or on the group’s website.

Five vie for political writing prize

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The Writers’ Trust of Canada has announced its five finalists for the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, with the winner to be announced in Ottawa on March 6, 2013.

Spotlighted topics include a tour of razor-wire barricades, options for urban transit, Canada’s move from peacekeeping to war, the state of Canadian health care, and amalgamation in Montreal.

Finalists, who will each receive $2,500, are Marcello Di Cintio (Walls: Travels Along the Barricades), Taras Grescoe (Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile), Noah Richler (What We Talk About When We Talk About War), Jeffrey Simpson (Chronic Condition: Why Canada’s Health-Care System Needs to be Dragged into the 21st Century) and Peter F. Trent (The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal).

Selection of finalists was made by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, columnist Tasha Kheiriddin, and novelist and translator Daniel Poliquin.

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize is sponsored by Bell Media and supported by the Politics and the Pen Gala. Now in its thirteenth year, it is awarded annually to a non-fiction book that “captures a political subject of interest to Canadian readers and enhances our understanding of the issue.”

Shaughnessy Cohen was the Liberal MP for the riding of Windsor-St. Clair from 1993 until her death in 1998, when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while addressing the House of Commons.

 

Prairie writer wins $60K nonfiction prize

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Saskatchewan writer Candace Savage has won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape.

The prize was announced at a gala literary event in Toronto.

In a Monday release, the Writers’ Trust said Savage is a celebrated writer of dozens of books and essays, who writes on a wide range of topics, from the cosmic science of the aurora to the inner workings of a beehive. She was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010 in recognition of her scholarly and artistic achievements.

The four other finalists each received $5,000. They are Kamal Al-Solayleefor Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes; Modris Eksteins for Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age; Taras Grescoe for Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile; and JJ Lee for The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.

The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction is awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary, and criticism, both social and political. Finalist works are judged to demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique.

Celebrated author kicks off annual Festival

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A reminder that Giller Prize winning author Rohinton Mistry takes to the stage tonight with host Charlie Foran, PEN Canada president, and the CBC’s Eleanor Wachtel for the opening night of the International Festival of Authors.

Proceeds from the evening at the Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre will go to PEN Canada.

The recipient of the 2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, Mistry is the author of three novels: Such a Long Journey, A Fine Balance and Family Matters, all short-listed for the Booker Prize, and a collection of short stories, Tales from Firozsha Baag. His fiction, which has been published in 30 languages, has won the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

The annual Festival runs until October 28, bringing together some of the world’s best writers of contemporary literature for readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, and public book signings.

Highlights include readings by finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Governor General’s Literary Awards and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, as well as the awarding of the Harbourfront Festival Prize.

Glitz and glory brighten city’s literary skies

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Glitz, glory, grants and glamour – the next five weeks promise to be a high-octane celebration of all things literary in Toronto.

On November 7, the Writers’ Trust of Canada will hand out $114,000 in prize money at its 12th annual awards event, to be held at the city’s Isabel Bader Theatre.

Headliner is the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, where five finalists will vie for honours as writer of the year’s best novel or short story collection. Each of the five will receive $2,500, with the eventual winner receiving a total of $25,000. Finalists were chosen by a jury of Lynn Coady, Esi Edugyan, and Drew Hayden Taylor from 116 nominated titles.

To give the public a taste of their work, finalists Tim Bowling (The Tinsmith), Tamas Dobozy (Siege 13), Rawi Hage (Carnival), Alix Ohlin (Inside) and Linda Spalding (The Purchase) will be reading at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto on October 24 and in Owen Sound on October 25.

(The annual festival runs from October 18 to 28 and features such luminaries as Alice Munro and Rohinton Mistry.)

Also competing at the November 7 awards event will be three finalists for the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which recognizes new and developing writers for the best short story first published in a Canadian literary journal during the previous year.

Kevin Hardcastle (“To Have to Wait” in The Malahat Review), Andrew Hood (“Manning” in PRISM international) and Alex Pugsley (“Crisis on Earth-X” in The Dalhousie Review) will joust for the $10,000 Journey prize.

Four additional prizes for a body of work will also be presented at the ceremony:

  • Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)
  • Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature ($20,000)
  • Writers’ Trust Distinguished Contribution Award

Canada’s literary leaders will reconvene for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, with the crowning of the 2012 winner set for a November 12 gala at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

The five finalists were chosen from a slate of 104 titles by former Ontario lieutenant-governor James Bartleman, past prize finalist Charlotte Gill and writer Marni Jackson. They are Kamal Al-Solaylee (Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes), Modris Eksteins (Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age), Taras Grescoe (Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile), J.J. Lee (The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit) and Candace Savage (Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape).

After all that praising and prizing, literary benefactors will start topping up the till again at the annual Writers’ Trust Gala to be held Thursday, November 15 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Proceeds from the event  fund  programs and initiatives that include the organization’s literary awards program, Berton House Writers’ Retreat and scholarship program with Humber College.

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing.

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