Simone Dalton wins top writing prize

Jill Andrew, NDP Culture Critic and MPP for
Toronto – St. Paul’s (left); Simone Dalton, EDF founder; Miranda Hassell, EDF steering committee member

Writer and pan player Simone Dalton is keeping a Trinidadian Canadian tradition alive. 

The young writer has just won the 2020 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award, making her the fifth Trinidadian Canadian to win a major Canadian writing prize in the past decade.

Dalton, a longtime tenor pan player with Toronto Panatics,

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 Her work has been published in The Unpublished City: Volume I, and in the anthology, Black Writers Matter.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.

Mark Bourrie, winner of the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize for his book Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson named Dalton as the recipient for this year’s Emerging Writer Award.

Dalton had been a participant in the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize Mentorship Program, with Mr. Bourrie as her mentor. The Prize consists of a $10,000 cash prize and mentorship by Bourrie who described her as ” a vibrant new voice who has already shown readers some of her tremendous promise.

Bourrie said ” 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 said  she is 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. ”

Dalton joins an elite group of Trinidadian Canadian writers in winning a major Canadian writing award.

Last year Ian Williams won the $100,000 Giller Prize for his novel Reproduction. Andre Alexis 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.  David Chaudhary won the Giller Prize for Brother, his 2017 novel about growing up in Malvern. Poet Dionne Brand  won  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. She also won the Blue Metropolis Violet Prize.