Gary Geddes wins 2018 Freedom to Read Award, for his work in support of freedom of expression

The author and activist has written over 35 books, and tackled topics like war crimes, prisoners of war and institutionalized violence.
Gary Geddes is a Canadian poet and human rights activist. (Ann Eriksson)

Gary Geddes, who has written and edited over 40 books of poetry, nonfiction and fiction, has been awarded the 2018 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of his body of work that promotes free expression.

Geddes's books include Drink the Bitter Root: A Search for Justice and Healing in Africa, where he interviews victims of violence in Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Somaliland, as well as Medicine Unbundled, in which he speaks to Indigenous elders and survivors of Canada's "Indian hospitals."

"Gary's lifetime works [are] an outstanding example of freedom of expression that impacts not just the students who receive the scholarships or read the books, but has the greatest impact on society as a whole. Gary has devoted his life to human rights issues," said the nomination for Geddes.

Throughout his long career, the Vancouver writer has received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the B.C. Lieutenant-Governor's Award for Literary Excellence and the Gabriela Mistral Prize from the Chilean government.

The Freedom to Read Award, presented annually by the Writers' Union of Canada during Freedom to Read Week, recognizes work that supports freedom of expression.

Journalist Deborah Campbell, author of A Disappearance in Damascus, won the 2017 award. Other past recipients include Mohamed Fahmy, Patsy Aldana and Lawrence Hill.

Freedom to Read Week 2018 takes place from Feb. 25 to March 3.


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