Author: Stephen Weir | Date: 20 March 2020
Writer and Pan Player Simone Dalton is keeping a Trinidadian Canadian tradition alive. The young writer has just won the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Author Award making her the 5th Trinidadian Canadian to win a major Canadian writing prize in the past decade.
Simone Dalton is a long-time tenor pan player with Toronto Panatics and an author that one magazine declared is one of “20 Black Writers to Read All Year Round!”. Dalton earned an MFA from the University of Guelph. Her work has been published in The Unpublished City: Volume I, and in the anthology, Black Writers Matter. In 2019, her inaugural short play, VOWS, debuted at Soulpepper as part of RARE Theatre’s production, Welcome to My Underworld. She is now working on her first memoir and is currently living in Boston.
Dalton won the Award yesterday, thanks to another writer, Ottawa historian Mark Bourrie. Early this month he won the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize for his book Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson. As the winner of that Prize it fell upon him to pick the country’s top up and coming author. He named Dalton as the recipient for this year’s Emerging Writer Award. She had been a participant in the Prize’s Mentorship Program, with Mr. Bourrie as her mentor. The Prize consists of a $10,000 cash prize and further mentorship from Bourrie.
Dalton said “I am humbled by this gift in a time when equity and precariousness in the arts are top of mind. Nothing prepares you to receive this kind of generosity, nothing but the stories you have the privilege to share as a writer. Thank you, Mark Bourrie, for selecting me to receive the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award, which will help me continue this work.”
Mark Bourrie explained his choice: “Simone Dalton is a vibrant new voice who has already shown readers some of her tremendous promise. Five talented, bright, charismatic writers were introduced to RBC Taylor Prize finalists and all of them will soon become well known to Canadian readers. Simone will now have some financing to finish a very powerful, emotional work of non-fiction. Her experiences, so varied, adventurous and intense, give her the emotional depth to be a great writer. As well, her kindness, humour, and open-mindedness will make her work so very readable.”
Dalton joins an elite group of Trinidadian Canadian writers in winning a major Canadian writing award. Late last year Ian Williams won the $100,000 Giller Prize for his novel Reproduction. Andre Alexis, born in Port-of-Spain, has won the Writer’s Trust Prize twice (2015 and 2019), CBC’s Canada Reads and the Giller Prize for his books 15 Dogs and Days by Moonlight. Trinidadian Canadian David Chaudhary won the Giller Prize for Brother his 2017 novel about growing up in Malvern. Dionne Brand was born in Guayaguayare, T&T and came to Canada in 1970. She is a much awarded poet winning the $25,000 Governor Generals Award, The Trillium Award, the City of Toronto Book Award and one of the world’s richest poetry Prize, the Griffith. Last year she won the Blue Metropolis Violet Prize