New $25K Canadian literary prize focuses on religious faith

Parliamentary poet laureate George Elliott Clarke will head up the poetry category of the new prize.
George Elliott Clarke is the author of the novel The Motorcyclist. (City of Toronto)

A new literary prize is awarding $25,000 to short story and poetry writers who focus on the theme of religious faith in Canada. The Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing will be awarded every other year beginning in 2017 to original, unpublished poetry and short stories.

The prize is founded by the think tank Cardus, "dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture." First-place winners in each of the two categories will win $10,000, while $2,500 will go to two runners-up - one for poetry, one for short stories.

According to the prize's project lead, Doug Sikkema, the prize seeks to encourage "the diverse writers of faith in Canada."
"The prize is meant to show a real picture of the joys and struggles, the pleasures and the pains, of what being religious in Canada entails," Sikkema says.

Parliamentary poet laureate George Elliott Clarke will judge the poetry category of the inaugural Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing, along with U.K.-based British-Canadian poet Todd Swift and Deborah Bowen, chair of the English department at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont.

The short story category will be judged by PEN Canada president Randy Boyagoda; literary critic, professor and writer David Staines; and novelist and psychotherapist Susan Lynn Reynolds.

The deadline for the prize is June 30, 2017, with winners announced in the fall. Shortlisted writers for the prize will have their work published in an anthology to be published in 2018.