Today’s poetry news takes a look at the National Poetry Prize awarded to a Kingston Writer. We also take a look at the Writer’s Trust Awards.
National Poetry Prize for Kingston Writer
Armand Garnet Ruffo, a Kingston-based poet, has been named as the winner of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize for 2020. The prize, worth $25,000 was given to the poet yesterday.
The award has been given for his work in general rather than any one particular book. Speaking about Ruffo’s work, the judges said that he had “animated” some rather larger than life figures whilst also profoundly engaging with the day to day life of Indigenous people. They felt that with each new book he had written he had been able to demonstrate a range of expertise that had been continually improving.
Ruffo who writes both prose and poetry has previously been recognised for his poetry. “Treaty#” his last poetry book was shortlisted in 2019 for the Governor General’s Award. He is also a filmmaker and has won an award for that as well.
The poet feels that there is a natural crossover between the genres of prose, poetry and even film making which helps him with his work.
Ruffo is originally from Chapleau, which is in northern Ontario. He is Ojibway by descent and has studied Indigenous literature. He currently teaches creative writing. This term has been spent away from the classroom as he has been doing research into the history of the local area during the 19th century, with a particular interest in the effect that industrialisation has played on the environment. He is not yet sure if this research will inspire a collection of poetry or a book. He will return to teaching in the new year.
The majority of his students are not actually indigenous and in fact, more and more non-Indigenous people are becoming interested in his subject each year. This is a trend that he says is taking place all over Canada.
Ruffo already has plans for his prize money. He is hoping to use some of it to buy him more time for his writing. The remainder will be used to repair the fireplace in his house.
Writer’s Trust Awards
The children’s author and poet Dennis Lee has been named on this year’s Writer’s Trust career honours list.
The Toronto based poet is one of four writers who received $25,000 yesterday for the contributions that they have made to literature in Canada.
Lee was awarded the Matt Cohen Award which is given for a lifetime of distinguished works by a writer of Canadian descent. He was a co-founder of House of Anansi Press, an independent publishing company which was established in 1967. He wrote Alligator pie, the children’s classic in 1974.
Kerri Sakamoto, who is also based in Toronto, was also recognised this year for her novels, which explore the experiences of Japanese Canadians. She was awarded the Engel / Findley Award, which is given to a writer who is mid-career for their fiction contributions.
Montreal based Marianne Dubuc received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.