Patrick James Errington '15 Named Finalist for RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, Wins Poetry Award

BY Angeline Dimambro, June 16, 2022

Update: June 16, 2022

 

 

The winners of the 2022 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers were announced this month, among them alumnus Patrick James Errington ’15 as the winner in the poetry category for his ‘sonorous’ collection, If Fire, Then Bird

 

The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award consists of two $10,000 prizes given for outstanding unpublished works, one in poetry and one in short fiction. The winners of the prize were announced at an in-person ceremony in Toronto on June 2, 2022. 

 

Errington was chosen from three finalists, selected from 183 submissions, by the poetry jury including Tenille K. Campbell, Michael Prior and Suzannah Showler.

 

“Patrick James Errington’s If Fire, Then Bird confronts embered landscapes of memory and loss in sonorous, sensory-rich language,” the poetry jury wrote in their citation, “These poems move with undeniable grace and attention, subtly adopting and subverting lyrical and pastoral tropes to pose tough questions about the fragile boundaries between health and illness, presence and absence, place and displacement. Like figures walking through the smoke from a burning field, Errington’s poems emerge with remarkable definition, clarity, and surprise.”

 

“I have absolutely no words. None besides ‘thank you’,” Errington tweeted, “Thank you to [RBC,] to everyone at [The Writers’ Trust,] to the jury, to the other finalists & winners...Those words are so pale compared to the enormity of how I’m feeling.”

 

The Bronwen Wallace Award is steeped in Canadian literary history and prestige. Bronwen Wallace herself was a Canadian poet and short story writer, and mentor to many aspiring authors. The award was established in her honor in 1994, and is designed to support talented emerging writers in securing their first book deal. The prize is given out by the Writers’ Trust of Canada, an organization founded in 1976 by a group of Canadian writers including Margaret Atwood and Pierre Berton. 

 

Patrick James Errington is a poet, translator, literary critic, and academic. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including The Poetry Review, Best New Poets, The Iowa Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Boston Review, and The Fiddlehead. Errington is the author of two chapbooks, Glean and Field Studies. His work has won several prizes, including the Poetry International Prize. A graduate of the University of Alberta (BA, 2011) where he studied under the late Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Errington also holds an MFA in Writing and Literary Translation from Columbia University and a PhD for his research in poetic theory and enactive hermeneutics from the University of St Andrews (2018). Originally from Alberta, Errington now lives in Scotland where he teaches and researches at The University of Edinburgh.

Patrick James Errington '15 reads from If Fire, Then Bird

Original: May 27, 2022

Alumnus Patrick James Errington ’15 has been named a finalist for the 2022 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers.

 

Established in memory of writer Bronwen Wallace, the award has a proven track record of helping talented developing authors get their first book deal. Two $10,000 prizes will be awarded for outstanding works of unpublished poetry and short fiction. The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award is sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists, an initiative that supports organizations providing the best opportunity for artists to advance in their projected career paths. Providing key funding across artistic genres, RBC contributes to the positive, sustained impact of the arts in building strong, diverse, and vibrant communities. Since 2015, more than 28,000 artists have been supported through these programs.  

 

“The whole thing has been quite bewildering, if I’m honest,” Errington said. “I was obviously stunned when I got the call from Carolyn Smart, the founder of the prize—I mean, how often do you get calls out of the blue from renowned writers? I don’t think it was until after she hung up that I actually realized who had called. It certainly wasn’t until much later, when I found out I would be going to Toronto for the prize ceremony, that I actually started to clue in to what was happening. Since then, it’s been such a whirlwind of edits and proofing the short poem sequence. I still don’t think I’ve quite realized it’s happening, honestly!”

As a finalist in the poetry category, Errington will receive $2,500 in recognition of his short sequence of poems, If Fire, Then Bird.

 

“The sequence [of poems] is taken from the book I’m finalizing, the swailing, and contains the title poem,” Errington said. “The sequence turns around the idea of language as fire, and in particular the possibilities of fire as control and as transformation. ‘Swailing’ is a forgotten term for the controlled burns used to contain wildfires. I think, for me, poetry has always been ‘troubled into being,’ as Lucie Brock-Broido, the late director of the Poetry program at Columbia, used to say.”

 

The jury for the Emerging Writers Award for Poetry, which is composed of poets Tenille K. Campbell, Michael Prior, and Suzannah Showler, read over 180 submissions before selecting the finalists.

 

“Patrick James Errington’s ‘If Fire, Then Bird’ confronts embered landscapes of memory and loss in sonorous, sensory-rich language,” said the poetry prize jury via press release. “These poems move with undeniable grace and attention, subtly adopting and subverting lyrical and pastoral tropes to pose tough questions about the fragile boundaries between health and illness, presence and absence, place and displacement. Like figures walking through the smoke from a burning field, Errington’s poems emerge with remarkable definition, clarity, and surprise.”

 

The winners of the 2022 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers will be announced on Thursday, June 2, 2022.

 

Patrick James Errington is a poet, translator, literary critic, and academic. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including The Poetry Review, Best New Poets, The Iowa Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Boston Review, and The Fiddlehead. Errington is the author of two chapbooks, Glean and Field Studies. His work has won several prizes, including the Poetry International Prize. A graduate of the University of Alberta (BA, 2011) where he studied under the late Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Errington also holds an MFA in Writing and Literary Translation from Columbia University and a PhD for his research in poetic theory and enactive hermeneutics from the University of St Andrews (2018). Originally from Alberta, Errington now lives in Scotland where he teaches and researches at The University of Edinburgh.