Toronto author Kyo Maclear was named the winner of the $ 20,000 Trillium Book Award for her memoir Birds Art Life, published by McClelland and Stewart, at a gala event at the Toronto Reference Library on Thursday.
Fiction and nonfiction books by Ontario authors are eligible for the prize, and awards are handed out for both French and English books as well as for poetry, for a total of four winners.
The French Book Award goes to Toronto’s Aurélie Resch for Sous le soleil de midi (Éditions Prise de parole).
The poetry prizes, for $ 10,000 each, go to Toronto’s Pino Coluccio for Class Clown (Biblioasis) and Peterborough’s Sylvie Bérard for Oubliez (Éditions Prise de parole).
Talking about Ontario’s $ 1.12 billion-dollar publishing industry, Mark Sakamoto, chair of the Ontario Media Development Corp., which runs the awards, said “finalists reflect the wide-ranging experiences and inspirations of our diverse society.”
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Maclear spoke to the Star about her memoir when it was first published. It covers a year of watching and chronicling birds and dealing with the poor health of her father. She said that birds didn’t have a “special regard for humans,” which is something she found incredibly comforting. “Our story’s not more important or less important than any other species in the city right now,” she said. “I almost felt that put me in my place, in a good way.”
Of Coluccio’s collection, the Star’s reviewer wrote that “At his best, Coluccio proves that light verse isn’t necessarily lightweight. In the poignant final poem, candles become symbols of both birth and death (‘They grace both cakes and churches’).”
The Ontario government established the Trillium Book awards in 1987 1987 to, in part, increase public awareness of the quality and diversity of Ontario writers and their works. Previous winners of the award include Margaret Atwood, Thomas King, Austin Clarke and François Paré.