Alicia Elliott, a Tuscarora First Nations writer and editor living in Brantford, Ont., has been named as the recipient of the 2018 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award. Elliott was hand-selected for the honour by Tanya Talaga, winner of this year’s RBC Taylor Prize for her book Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City.
The award consists of a $10,000 cash prize and the mentorship of author and veteran Toronto journalist Talaga. Elliott’s writing has been published in The Globe and Mail, as well as by Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, Today’s Parent and Reader’s Digest.
Reacting to the news, Elliott commented in a statement that she’d been in a “daze” since being notified of the award. “It’s incredibly humbling to be honoured with the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award, and especially to be chosen by someone I admire as much as Tanya.”
Elliott’s essay A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, published in the Canadian quarterly The Malahat Review, won a National Magazine Award in 2017. At the awards gala, she delivered a keynote address on the role media and writers played in contextualizing the debate on cultural appropriation.
“Alicia Elliott is the voice of our youth, the next generation,” Talaga said. “She is lyrical, heartfelt and she tells searing truths of Canada today, truths we all need to listen to.”
Late last year it was announced that Doubleday Canada had acquired the Canadian English rights to A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, described as an “exploration of the links of colonialism, mental illness, art and abuse through a blend of cultural criticism, literary criticism, and political and historical discourse.” Elliott’s narrative non-fiction debut will publish in the spring of 2019.
The RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award was established in 2014 to provide recognition and assistance to a Canadian published author who is working on a significant writing project, preferably but not limited to literary non-fiction. The four previous recipients of the award are Cassi Smith, Adnan R. Khan, Iain Reid and Leanne Simpson.