As if artistic immortality weren’t enough, the Writers’ Trust of Canada announced Tuesday a new reason to pick up the poet’s pen: the establishment of a new, $25,000 annual award for verse called the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize.
The honour, sponsored by the Latner Family Foundation, will be granted each fall, and will be given to “a Canadian poet in midcareer in recognition of a remarkable body of work and in hope of future contributions to Canadian poetry.”
It is the tenth award established by the Writers’ Trust, which has become one of the essential organizations supporting literature in our nation; the first winner will be selected by a jury consisting of three poets, Stephanie Bolster, Lorna Crozier and Fred Wah, who recently finished a term as the parliamentary poet laureate.
The Latner joins the Griffin Prize ($75,000) and the Governor-General’s Award ($25,000) on the list of essential awards that will nurture the country’s countless would-be versifiers. Though, like those awards, it will face a central dilemma: while Canada has some brilliant poets, does it have enough good ones to grant prizes like this as much aesthetic relevance as financial reward?