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RBC Writers' Trust Five x Five recipients Linda Besner Ken Babstock Megan Gail Coles Michael Crummey Ghalib Islam Madeleine Thien Eliza Robertson Joseph Boyden Melanie Siebert Esi Edugyan

Writers’ Trust Announces One-Time Program to Endorse Emerging Writers

“Five x Five” delivers high-profile commendations and $25,000 to writers on the rise

September 8, 2015
Toronto – The Writers’ Trust of Canada is delighted to announce “Five x Five,” a one-time program made possible by the RBC Emerging Artists Project that will distribute a total of $25,000 to Canadian writers in the developing stages of their careers. Five celebrated writers from across Canada, all past Writers’ Trust award honourees, have each selected one emerging writer of fiction or poetry who they feel has displayed the potential to enter Canada’s literary canon. The nominating writers are: Ken Babstock, Joseph Boyden, Michael Crummey, Esi Edugyan, and Madeleine Thien. The five writers they have selected will each receive $5,000.

About the recipients

Writers' RTust 5x5 Recipient Besner, Linda
Linda Besner
(Montreal), selected by Ken Babstock (Toronto)

Linda Besner is the author of The Id Kid, published in 2011 by VĂ©hicule Press and named as one of the National Post’s Best Poetry Books of the Year. Her poetry has appeared in The Walrus, Maisonneuve, and The Malahat Review, among other journals, and been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry 2012

Writers' Trust 5x5 Recipient Coles, Megan-Gail
Megan Gail Coles
(St. John’s), selected by Michael Crummey (St. John’s)

Megan Gail Coles is a playwright and fiction writer whose debut story collection, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome (Killick Press), won the 2014 BMO Winterset Award and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. She is co-founder and co-artistic director of Poverty Cove Theatre Company in St. John’s.

Writers' Trust 5x5 Recipient Islam, Ghalib
Ghalib Islam
(Toronto), selected by Madeleine Thien (Montreal)

Ghalib Islam has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Toronto, where he was mentored by Margaret Atwood. His first novel, Fire in the Unnameable Country (Hamish Hamilton Canada), was met with critical acclaim in 2014 and hailed as “one of the buzziest novels of the season.”


Writers' Trust 5x5 Recipient Robertson, ElizaEliza Robertson (Norwich, UK), selected by Joseph Boyden (New Orleans/James Bay, ON)

Eliza Robertson’s stories have been shortlisted for the Journey Prize and CBC Short Story Prize. In 2013, her story “We Walked On Water” co-won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her first collection, Wallflowers, was published in 2014 with Hamish Hamilton Canada and Bloomsbury UK. She was born in Vancouver, grew up on Vancouver Island, and now lives in England.

Writers' Trust 5x5 Recipient Siebert, Melanie
Melanie Siebert
(Victoria), selected by Esi Edugyan (Victoria)

Melanie Siebert is a poet whose first book, Deepwater Vee (McClelland & Stewart), was shortlisted for a 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award. She was selected by the Writers’ Trust to be a writer-in-residence at Berton House Writers’ Retreat in 2013. Siebert lives in Victoria where she is an instructor at the University of Victoria.

“Five x Five” was made possible by the RBC Emerging Artists Project and an initiative in early 2015 to award $25,000 in funding to one of six arts organizations in an online poll. The Writers’ Trust of Canada generated the most support with 35.1% of the votes cast.

“We couldn’t have secured this funding without the support of the literary community, which rallied around the cause,” said Mary Osborne, executive director of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. “Thanks to that community support, five writers in the early stages of their careers will receive some cash in their pocket and a pat on the back: a valuable endorsement from a celebrated author that says, ‘You are one to watch. Please write more.’”

“What makes this one-time program special is that the writers who receive this additional support have obviously captured the interest of some of the Writers’ Trust’s most accomplished and recognized alumni,” said Valerie Chort, vice president, corporate citizenship, RBC. “The arts are the heart and soul of our communities and cultures, and that’s why we’re proud to support the Writers’ Trust through the RBC Emerging Artists Project.”

The RBC Emerging Artists Project helps artists to bridge the gap from emerging to established, and supports organizations that provide the best opportunity to advance their career trajectory.

Visit the “Five x Five” program page to download images of the recipients and nominators, read citations, and find out more information.

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. RBC is one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provides personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services, and capital markets products and services on a global basis. RBC employs approximately 79,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector, and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S., and 38 other countries. For more information, visit

RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships, and employee volunteer activities. In 2014, RBC contributed more than $111 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $76 million and $35 million in sponsorships.

About the Five x Five program

Five celebrated writers from across Canada were each asked to select one emerging writer to receive this recognition and financial reward. To be eligible for nomination, writers must have published a maximum of one literary book (fiction or poetry) with a professional publishing house, or had their work appear in a literary magazine or anthology, and be in the developing stages of their career. No age restriction applied.

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 that includes 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.


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