The Writers’ Trust of Canada announced the finalists for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers on May 26, 2021. Vancouver poet jaye simpson—whose powerful debut collection of poetry, it was never going to be okay (Nightwood Editions, $18.95), was published in 2020—was named as one of three writers in the running for the honour.
The Dayne Ogilvie Prize is presented annually to an emerging writer from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, questioning, intersex, pansexual, asexual, or androgynous community whose published work to date demonstrates great literary promise. Prize finalists receive $1,000, while the winner is awarded $10,000.
The jury for the 2021 Dayne Ogilvie Prize describes simpson and their work as “… masterful, unpredictable, and artistically undeniable. They command every corner of the page with authenticity and finesse, taming their work with strength and authority… They are a vital part of Canada’s literary future: when simpson speaks, you listen.”
simpson is a Two-Spirit Oji-Cree person of the Buffalo Clan with roots in Sapotaweyak and Skownan Cree Nation who often writes about being queer in the child welfare system, as well as being queer and Indigenous. They were recently named the Vancouver Champion for the Women of the World Poetry Slam and have performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (2017) in Peterborough, and in Guelph with the Vancouver Slam Poetry 2018 Team.
simpson resides on the unceded and ancestral territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlilwəta’Ɂɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations peoples, currently and colonially known as Vancouver, BC.
Described as “a vital artifact of a decolonial future” by Billy-Ray Belcourt, it was never going to be okay explores the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness, while addressing urban Indigenous diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. The book was also named a finalist for an Indigenous Voices Award earlier in May and was shortlisted for the 2021 Relit Award for poetry.
The other finalists for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize are Jillian Christmas and Kama La Mackerel. Finalists were selected by the 2021 prize jury, comprised of Daniel Allen Cox, Eva Crocker, and Danny Ramadan. The prize winner will be announced in a digital video on June 23, 2021. For more information, visit www.writerstrust.com.