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Writers’ Trust launches $25,000 poetry prize

Writers Trust logoCanadian poets are being feted with a new prize that will recognize a writer for his or her exceptional body of work. The $25,000 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, sponsored by the Latner Family Foundation, will be handed out for the first time in November alongside five other literary prizes administered by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

According to a press release, the annual prize will be awarded to “a Canadian poet in mid-career in recognition of a remarkable body of work and in hope of future contributions to Canadian poetry.” Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have published at least three collections of poetry demonstrating “outstanding mastery in the art of poetry” are eligible to receive the award, for which there is no formal submission process.

Writers’ Trust executive director Mary Osborne says the prize fills “a gap in the literary prize scene where there wasn’t a body of work prize for poets.” The other marquee Canadian poetry prizes – including the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize and the $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry – recognize a single collection.

“The jurors have the freedom to look at who is doing interesting work and contributing to the poetic culture of Canada, and who has the promise of continuing to do more interesting work,” Osborne says.

The jury for the inaugural prize comprises poets Stephanie Bolster, Lorna Crozier, and Fred Wah. The winner will be announced at a gala on Nov. 4.

The Writers’ Trust already administers three prizes recognizing existing bodies of work: the Engel/Findley Award for fiction, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, and the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life.

Osborne says the Writers’ Trust has received a 10-year commitment from the Latner Family Foundation to support the prize.

“I expect we’ll have a very long-term arrangement with them, partly because the impulse is coming from a genuine appreciation for the art form,” she says. “For [the Latner family], it’s really about supporting poets and their work.”