Toronto poet Laura Clarke, this year's winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, is now $5,000 richer, but said the recognition is just as important for a young poet like herself.
"I think every writer in Canada appreciates these kinds of awards because it grants you the time, which is money, to spend working on your writing," she told Fresh Air in an interview. "And of course the recognition is great and the people at the Writers' Trust have been great with us and all the finalists."
Clarke, a 27-year-old graduate of the University of Toronto's MA program in creative writing, won for her poetry collection Mule Variations. Her literary work has been published in The Antigonish Review, Grain, PRISM international, Qwerty, and Freefall.
"I'm attracted to fiction as well but poetry has that more immediate and visceral quality that attracts you to it. I wrote it from a pretty young age," Clarke said. She has been writing poetry since she was a tot and went on to win a poetry contest through the Hamilton Spectator newspaper in her teens, which gave her confidence to pursue poetry more seriously. Now in her late 20s, Clarke said she draws inspiration from the world around her.
"Reading newspapers, looking at ads ... I tend to write a lot of work that's very immersed in our modern world pop culture. But specifically I'll read certain news stories that just interest me and I'll write a poem from there." Mule Variations was actually inspired by a series of scientific news stories she read about mules.
Clark said she now plans to use the time afforded to her by the prize money to finish her manuscript.