Robyn Maynard, Smokii Sumac and Arielle Twist named finalists for $10K LGBTQ emerging writers prize

The annual award, which has increased the prize money by $5,000 for 2020, is given to a promising writer who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. 
Robyn Maynard, Smokii Sumac and Arielle Twist are the three finalists for the 2020 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers. (Submitted by Writers' Trust)

Robyn Maynard, Smokii Sumac and Arielle Twist have been nominated for the Writers' Trust of Canada's $10,000 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers.

The annual award, which has increased the prize money by $5,000 for 2020, is given to a promising writer who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. 

The remaining finalists will now each receive $1,000.

Maynard is a Montreal-based Black feminist writer, activist and educator. Her 2017 book, Policing Black Lives, takes an in-depth look at the underreported history of racial injustice in Canada.

"Maynard's rigorous scholarship and commanding prose unpack the insidious structures of violence and racism rooted in the Canadian state and document the damage and collective trauma faced by Black bodies and Black communities," the jury said in a statement. "A critical, timely and urgent voice that celebrates the community-based ethos of Black organizers, activists, and scholars and their life-affirming commitment to resisting and confronting all forms of state-sanctioned violence."

Sumac is a poet, a PhD candidate and a member of the Ktunaxa nation. The B.C.-based writer's debut poetry collection, you are enough, was published in 2018.

Sumac's writing is like a big bear hug from your uncle or cousin," the jury said in a statement. "With precise analogies and rhythm that move the spirit, his poetic practice harkens to those who came before him and reference a cyclical narrative of Indigenous literature."

Twist is a Halifax-based poet and sex educator. CBC Books named Twist a writer to watch in 2019. Her 2019 debut poetry collection, Disintegrate/Dissociate, depicts life for an Indigenous trans woman, one dreaming for a hopeful future and a clear path for self-discovery. 

"The intentionality, spareness and lush lyricism of Twist's work faces down colonial cissexist violence," the jury said in a statement. "Her poetry moves with dignity, deliberation, deep craft and purpose. It is potent, breathtaking Indiqueer brilliance, telling stories that bring the next world — the one we, and in particular Indigenous trans women, deserve — into being."

The 2020 Dayne Ogilvie Prize winners will be announced virtually on Oct. 21, 2020.

The 2020 finalists were selected by a three-person jury: writer and editor Lindsay Nixon, along with writers Trevor Corkum and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Nixon won the prize in 2019.

Other previous winners include Ben Ladouceur, Farzana Doctor, Zoe Whittall and Tamai Kobayashi.

The Writers' Trust of Canada is an organization that supports Canadian writers through literary awards, fellowships, financial grants, mentorships and more.

It also gives out seven prizes in recognition of the year's best in fiction, nonfiction and short story, as well as mid-career and lifetime achievement awards.

The organization was founded in 1976 by Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence and David Young.

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