TORONTO, ONT – The RBC Taylor Prize and the RBC Foundation announced the return of this professional development program, that is aimed to support the next generation of Canadian writers.
The program pairs five emerging writers, selected from the nation’s writing programs, with the finalists for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize. The award honours and celebrates the pursuit of excellence in literary non-fiction.
The program is curated by Joe Kertes, Dean Emeritus of the Humber College School of Creative Arts & Performance in Toronto.
Nadina Taylor, a trustee of the Charles Taylor Foundation and daughter of the late Charles Taylor, is a strong champion of the program. “We’ve seen what a huge impact the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award can have on a writer’s career and wanted to amplify that effect with this opportunity – to help prepare these talented writers for the complex and competitive world of writing and publishing.”
“At RBC Wealth Management, we believe it is important to identify, nurture and support the next generation of Canadian talent and to provide writers in the early stages of their career with mentorship opportunities that will help them succeed in the professional world,” said Vijay Parmar, President of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel.
Helen Knott of Fort St. John is one of the five “emergent” writers who have an existing body of work, and a non-fiction manuscript close to completion. The participants will correspond with their mentors prior to travelling to Toronto for the Prize weekend, Feb 28 through March 4th. When the participants meet with their mentors, they will participate in an intensive day of professional development, accompany their mentors through media and events, and participate in the Awards Luncheon on Monday, March 4th.
Helen Knott — University of Northern British Columbia
Knott is of Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, and mixed Euro descent from Prophet River First Nations, living in Fort St. John, BC. She has published short stories and poetry in the Malahat Review, Red Rising Magazine, through CBC Arts, the Surviving Canada Anthology, alongside other publications and poetry video productions. In 2017, Helen was a recipient of the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. In 2016, she was one of sixteen women featured globally by the Nobel Women’s Initiative for her commitment to ending gender-based violence and activism. Her first book, In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Struggle and Resilience, will be released in August 2019. She is currently writing an Indigenous female manifesto entitled, Taking Back the Bones, where a personal narrative is interwoven with humour, academic research and critical reflection.
The RBC Taylor Prize was established in 1998 by the trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation and first awarded in 2000, 2018 marks the seventeenth year of awarding the RBC Taylor Prize, which commemorates Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. The Prize is awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception. All finalists receive $5,000, and the winner receives a further $25,000. All authors are presented with a custom leather-bound version of their shortlisted book at the award ceremony. All finalists receive promotional support for their nominated titles.
The four other participants of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Mentorship Program are;
Becky Blake — University of Guelph
Blake won the CBC Nonfiction Prize in 2017 and the CBC Short Story Prize in 2013. She is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Guelph, and her work has appeared in journals, magazines, and newspapers across Canada. Her debut novel, Proof I Was Here, is forthcoming from Wolsak & Wynn’s Buckrider Books in May 2019. She currently lives in Toronto where she is working on a memoir-in-essays called Everything I’m About to Say Is a Lie. The title refers to the recommended way to answer a phone that’s been tapped (as Blake’s once was). Her memoir draws on this and other experiences ranging from the criminal to the comical as she examines the singular power of a true story and the license we sometimes take to tell one.
Kirk Angus Johnson — University of King’s College / Dalhousie
Johnson is of both Metis and African ancestry. After graduating from Acadia University and an early career in theatre, he attended Concordia University in Montreal to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. In keeping with the military traditions within his family, Johnson enrolled in the Canadian Forces as an Infantry Officer and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010. Now released from the military, Johnson is returning to a career in writing. He resides in Three Mile Plains, NS, his childhood home, and is in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at University of King’s College in Halifax. Some Kind of Hero is a compelling account of the circumstances leading to Afghan vet Lionel Desmond’s tragic 2017 murder/suicide, and the lessons we need to learn from it.
Miles Steyn — University of Victoria
Steyn was born in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and raised in Vancouver. His creative nonfiction has appeared in Existere, The Xanadu Anthology, Unsubscribe Magazine, Gold Literary Magazine, and his essay “Wire to the Sky” was short-listed for EVENT Magazine‘s Creative Nonfiction Contest. In 2018, Steyn’s essay “From Clay” was long-listed for the CBC Nonfiction Prize. Expanding on the earlier essay, Wire to the Sky, Steyn’s first book of nonfiction is a genre-bending memoir, told through letters from a brother to his late sister, about race, nationality, and the loss of family.
Joshua Whitehead — University of Calgary
Whitehead is an Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit storyteller and academic from Peguis First Nation on Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Indigenous literature and cultures at the University of Calgary. In 2016, his poem “mihkokwaniy” won Canada’s History Award for Aboriginal Arts and Stories (for writers aged 19–29), which included a residency at the Banff Centre. His 2018 novel, Jonny Appleseed, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. His non-fiction book, Making Love with The Land, is a braid of forms that ruminates on topics such as Indigeneity, queerness, mental health, body dysmorphia, and chronic pain through a variety of literary forms, including horror, speculative fiction, poetry, and confession.
The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are; Vijay Parmar, David Staines, Edward Taylor, Nadina Taylor, and Noreen Taylor. The Prize Manager is Sheila Kay.