Prolific Manitoba novelist/memoirist/graphic novelist David A. Robertson is the recipient of the 2021 Freedom to Read Award, presented by the Writers’ Union of Canada.
Robertson is the author of 20 books and won the Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Illustrated Books (with illustrator Julie Plett) for his children’s book about residential schools, When We Were Alone. Two of his books, the graphic novels 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga and Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story, were placed on lists of books not recommended for classroom use in Alberta.
The award is presented annually by the writers’ union to recognized work that supports freedom to read. Past recipients include authors Ivan Coyote, Jael Richardson, Mohamed Fahmy, Lawrence Hill and bookseller Janine Fuller. It’s presented each year during Freedom to Read Week, which ran Feb. 21 to 27 this year.
Robertson was nominated for the award by a fellow Canadian author, who wrote: "I am moved today to nominate [David A. Robertson] because I think he is an excellent role model for freedom of expression for all of us. Robertson writes for audiences of all ages. He delves into his own life, his own truths, and with rigour, gentleness, and bravery, he creates literature to show what he’s discovering."
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Funding from Jim Balsillie, the former chairman and CEO of Blackberry-maker Research in Motion, has allowed the Writers’ Trust of Canada to announce a new $60,000 prize for Canadian non-fiction.
The Balsillie Prize for Non-Fiction will be for "a book of non-fiction that advances and influences policy debates on social, political, economic, and/or cultural topics relevant to Canadians," according to the Writers’ Trust’s announcement.
"This prize will spotlight authors and ideas that aim to address the core concerns of our society and ideally lead to a more engaged, informed, and enlightened Canada," Balsillie said in a press release this month.
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Speaking Crow, the long-running poetry open mic event, is back March 2 and once again online.
The featured reader will be Shereen Ramprashad, a spoken-word performer, storyteller, illustrator and performer.
For a link to watch, or to sign up for a three-minute reading slot, see wfp.to/speakingcrow.
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A former Manitoban who practises medicine near San Francisco has turned to her past in Manitoba’s Jewish community for inspiration in her first novel.
Prairie Sonata is the story of a girl growing up in the province’s secular Jewish community after the Second World War who comes to a new understanding of her world when she gets to know her recent-immigrant teacher.
Author Sandy Shefrin Rabin earned degrees in English and medicine at the University of Manitoba, and now practises neurology in Marin County.
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Prolific novelist/art-pop singer Vivek Shraya launches a new book Tuesday, accompanied by former Manitoba straight-edge rock star Bif Naked, author of the 2016 memoir I, Bificus.
How to Fail as a Pop Star is a play inspired by Shraya’s experience making music. A book version of the script is being launched with photos from the première, which took place just before theatres everywhere were shut by the pandemic.
Shraya’s most recent novel, The Subtweet, is one of four Canadian books on the longlist for the City of Dublin Book Prize.
A link to the online launch is available at wfp.to/shraya.
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Earlier this month, Saskatchewan poet Louise Bernice Halfe became the first Indigenous writer to be named Canada’s Parliamentary poet laureate.
Halfe, originally from the Saddle Lake Reserve in Alberta, has previously served a term as Saskatchewan’s poet laureate.
Her books include Blue Marrow, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for poetry, and Burning in This Midnight Dream, which won the League of Canadian Poets Raymond Souster Award and the High Plains Book Award for poetry.