Joseph Dandurand has won the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize. The award is given to a mid-career poet in anticipation of their future contributions to Canadian poetry. The Kwantlen First Nation writer was chosen for his ability to blend the "streetwise with the oracular," according to the jury, comprised of Weyman Chan, Luke Hathaway and January Rogers. This ability can be found in Dandurand’s works such as The Punishment and The East Side of It All.
The Punishment wrangles trauma, grief, forgiveness and love. Joseph Dandurand’s poems illustrate the poet's solitary existence. With scenes of residential school, the psych ward, the streets and the river, Dandurand reveals an arduous journey: one poet's need to both understand his life and find ways to escape it. Through poetry, he shares with us all his lovers. He shares the streets. He shares what he sees: the great eagles and small birds; his culture and teachings; the East Side; self-pity; the deception of love; the deception of hate; sasquatches; spirits; and his people, the Kwantlen.
The East Side of It All, written from the perspective of a drug user and single-room occupant in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, explores the ongoing process of healing through reconnection with family, the natural world and traditional Indigenous (Kwantlen) storytelling. Dandurand’s voice is lyrical yet intimate, obscured yet sitting with you at the kitchen table having a cigarette. The East Side of It All is the journey of a broken man who finally accepts his storytelling gift and shares with the world his misery, joy and laughter. Dandurand’s previous poetry collection was shortlisted for the 2020 Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize for Poetry.
Joseph Dandurand is a member of the Kwantlen First Nation, located on the Fraser River about twenty minutes east of Vancouver, BC. He resides there with his three children. Dandurand is the director of the Kwantlen Cultural Centre and the author of several books of poetry including The East Side of It All (Nightwood Editions, 2020), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. In 2021, Dandurand received the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. He is also the author of a children's book series that includes The Sasquatch, the Fire and the Cedar Baskets, A Magical Sturgeon and the upcoming Spring 2023 release The Girl Who Loved the Birds.
About the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize: The Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize is given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry. All Canadian poets are considered.
The winner is selected by a three-member, independent judging panel and is announced annually at the Writers’ Trust Awards. The prize is generously sponsored by Latner Family Foundation.