Last night’s 18th QWF Awards Gala brought a few surprises… and a lot of applause. A large (and loud!) community of English–and French–writers and friends gathered on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 to honour their own.
The gala was held at The Corona–a vintage silent film theatre built in 1912–in the Sud-Ouest borough.
Tanya Evanson, host par excellence, opened the event with a spoken-word extravaganza, setting the tone for an evening with just enough laughter in the mix, just enough soul.
The first prize, le Prix de traduction de la Fondation Cole–a welcome shout-out to
Montréal multilingualism–was awarded to Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné for their translation of Mordecai Richler’s Solomon Gursky Was Here (published by Montréal’s own, Les Éditions du Boréal). Up in the running was their other, Richler book, as well as a little gem of a collection of Erin Mouré poems, translated into French par nul autre que le dramaturge, traducteur, et réalisateur, Daniel Canty.
Kim McNairn, CBC Montreal Senior Digital Lineup Editor, and Lori Schubert, Executive Director of the QWF, revealed the name of the 2017 CBC/QWF Writer in Residence: Sarah Lolley. McNairn put Lolley on the spot by inquiring about her expectations for her new position.
Next came the Concordia University First Book Prize, which was awarded by Concordia Prof, Andre Furlani, to Kelly Norah Drukker for her poetry book, Small Fires. She also took home the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, because why not!
Here is an excerpt from said book:
Two priests were lost here,
buried alive, the thick mud
of low tide turned
In the valley, vines
rise coiled from the earth,
the cries of Roman slaves
mixing with birdsong.
Drukker mentioned that it took her 13 years to complete the book. Pursuing her PhD in Humanities at Concordia University, she currently calls Montreal home.
The evening was interspersed with readings by wildly talented kids. Yes, you heard right, kids. Their little hands held giant children’s books from which their (sometimes) tiny voices read. The biggest hit: Tristan St-Victor’s reading of Bug in a Vacuum (written by Mélanie Watt).
Mark Abley offered a heartfelt hommage to Leonard Cohen, by casually morphing Cohen’s lines into his own.
The Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction went to a cognitive neuroscientist, musician, and record producer, Daniel J. Levitin, for his book, A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age. Levitin wasn’t there to pick up his prize, as he had a prior engagement in California. With last night’s freezing wind, we don’t blame him. May I suggest that the gala be held in Los Angeles next year?
The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction surprised everyone, including the winner! Liam Durcan took home the award for his novel, The Measure of Darkness, in a humble, very shy way. Up in the running against him was Madeleine Thien, Canadian literary star and recent winner of $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Jacob Wren (author of Rich and Poor), as well as Jack Hannan (of The Poet is a Radio, published by Linda Leith), left the evening as proud nominees.
The QWF also announced that they will be launching The QWF Youth Prize in 2017.
The night closed with the QWF Prize for Children’s Literature, which was awarded to Bonnie Farmer for her book Oscar Lives Next Door (as in, Oscar Petersen, who lived next to her in Little Burgundy when was a child–true story).
For an entire list of winners, you can visit QWF’s website.