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Writers’ Trust Awards $139,000 to Canadian Writers

Miriam Toews, Ken Babstock among night’s big winners

TorontoNovember 4, 2014 – Tonight in Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, the Writers’ Trust of Canada presented six awards for literary merit and $139,000 to Canadian writers. The Writers’ Trust Awards evening is one of the richest literary prize-giving events in Canada. The Writers’ Trust supports Canadian writers throughout the year through ongoing initiatives that include additional literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat.

Miriam Toews received the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for All My Puny Sorrows, a heart-wrenching and humorous novel about the loving bond of sisterhood and the tragedy of depression. Toews previously won the award in 2008 for her novel The Flying Troutmans.

The inaugural Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, which awards $25,000 in recognition of a writer’s exceptional body of work in the field of poetry, was presented to Ken Babstock.

Three additional authors received awards for their contributions to Canadian literature through a body of work: Manitoba’s Joan Thomas, whose third novel, The Opening Sky, was recently nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, took home the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award; Haida Gawaii, British Columbia resident Susan Musgrave, whose writing career has spanned 30 years and 27 published books of poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and children’s literature, received the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life; and Cary Fagan, a prolific writer based in Toronto, whose body of work spans picture books, chapter books, and novels, won the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.

The $10,000 Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize went to Tyler Keevil for “Sealskin,” a short story set in a fish processing plant in the Burrard Inlet, British Columbia.

The event, which was attended by 300 guests from the literary, arts and media communities, was hosted by the arts editor of The Globe and MailJared Bland.

Below are the prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. 

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize ($25,000)

ToewsMiriam Toews for All My Puny Sorrows (Knopf Canada)

“Toews manages to marry humour and grief so expertly that the most unbearable sadness is tempered by laughter. Reading All My Puny Sorrows is an unforgettable experience.”

· AndrĂ© Alexis for Pastoral (Coach House Books)
· Steven Galloway for The Confabulist (Knopf Canada)
· K.D. Miller for All Saints (Biblioasis)
· Carrie Snyder for Girl Runner (House of Anansi)

Each of the four finalists received $2,500. The winner and finalists were chosen by a jury of Neil Bissoondath, Helen Humphreys, and George Murray. They read 127 books from 52 publishers. The prize is sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc.

Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize ($25,000)

Awarded to a poet in mid-career for a body of work.

BabstockKen Babstock

“Few writers balance mind, body, and spirit with such apparent ease and with such vitality. Ken Babstock is in a league of his own.”

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Stephanie Bolster, Lorna Crozier, and Fred Wah. The prize, which was founded this year, is sponsored by the Latner Family Foundation.

Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award ($25,000)

Awarded to a writer in mid-career for a body of work.

ThomasJoan Thomas

“Joan Thomas has a profound understanding of the human condition. In her work, she is unafraid, and she is truthful. We, as readers, anticipate the richness of her future endeavours.”

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Frances Itani, Nino Ricci, and Lisa Moore. The prize is sponsored by the Writers’ Trust of Canada Board of Directors,, Wendy Pitblado, David Ellins, and the Michael Griesdorf Fund.

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)

Awarded to a writer dedicated to writing as a primary pursuit, for a body of work.

MusgraveSusan Musgrave

“Susan Musgrave has led a remarkable life, and produced more than 25 books. First published in 1970, she remains devoted to the creative process, and is one of the most well-loved writers in Canada.”

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.

Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People ($20.000)

Awarded to a writer of literature for young readers for a body of work.

FaganCary Fagan

“With a kid’s eye-view Cary Fagan navigates the ups and downs of life with genuine warmth and a wry sense of humour. His stories are a perfect balance between the comic and the dramatic. Fagan is a master storyteller.”

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

Writers’ Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize ($10,000)

Awarded for the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine.

KeevilTyler Keevil for “Sealskin” (The New Orphic Review)

“‘Sealskin’ is a stunner. Tyler Keevil has accomplished something rare: a story about rough masculinity that brims with emotion and pathos.”

· Lori McNulty for “Monsoon Season” (Descant)
· Clea Young for “Juvenile” (The Fiddlehead)

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 of Steven W. Beattie, Craig Davidson, and Saleema Nawaz. 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 13 stories that formed the longlist for this year’s prize.

The Writers’ Trust Awards are made possible through generous support from corporate, foundation, and individual sponsors. The 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. Partners supporting the program 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.


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