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Finalists – 2023 Trillium Book Award

2023 Trillium Book Award Finalists’ Booklet click here
AODA English Version / Version LAPHO disponible en français

Charlie Angus, Cobalt: Cradle of the Demon Metals, Birth of a Mining Superpower, House of Anansi Press

The world is desperate for cobalt. It drives the proliferation of digital and clean technologies. But this “demon metal” has a horrific present and a troubled history.

The modern search for cobalt has brought investors back to a small town in Northern Canada, a place called Cobalt. Like the demon metal, this town has a dark and turbulent history.

The tale of the early-twentieth-century mining rush at Cobalt has been told as a settler’s adventure, but Indigenous people had already been trading in metals from the region for two thousand years. And the events that happened here — the theft of Indigenous lands, the exploitation of a multicultural workforce, and the destruction of the natural environment — established a template for resource extraction that has been exported around the world.

Charlie Angus reframes the complex and intersectional history of Cobalt within a broader international frame — from the conquistadores to the Western gold rush to the struggles in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. He demonstrates how Cobalt set Canada on its path to become the world’s dominant mining superpower.

Charlie Angus has been the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay since 2004. He is the author of eight books about the North, Indigenous issues, and mining culture, including the award-winning Children of the Broken Treaty. He is also the lead singer of the Juno-nominated alt country band Grievous Angels. Charlie and his wife, author Brit Griffin, raised their three daughters at an abandoned mine site in Cobalt, Ontario, that looks like a Crusader castle.

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Cliff Cardinal, William Shakespeare's As You Like It, A Radical Retelling, Playwrights Canada Press

The title of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It holds a double meaning that teasingly suggests the play can please all tastes. But is that possible? With his subversive updating of the Bard’s classic, Indigenous creator and cultural provocateur Cliff Cardinal seeks to find out. The show exults in bawdy humour, difficult subject matter, and raw emotion; Cardinal is not one to hold back when it comes to challenging delicate sensibilities.

Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Cliff Cardinal (Stitch, Huff, and Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special) studied playwriting at the National Theatre School of Canada and is an associate artist at VideoCabaret, where he develops his new work.

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Kathy Friedman, All the Shining People, House of Anansi Press

Twelve exquisitely written stories depicting the search for human connection and the attempt to fit in far from home.

All the Shining People explores migration, diaspora, and belonging within Toronto’s Jewish South African community, as individuals come to terms with the oppressive hierarchies that separate, and the connections that bind. Seeking a place to belong, the book’s characters — including a life-drawing model searching the streets for her lover; a woman confronting secrets from her past in the new South Africa; and a man grappling with the legacy of his father, a former political prisoner — crave authentic relationships that replicate the lost feeling of home. With its focus on family, culture, and identity, All the Shining People captures the experiences of immigrants and outsiders with honesty, subtlety, and deep sympathy.

Kathy Friedman emigrated with her family from South Africa to the suburbs of Toronto when she was five. She studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia and the University of Guelph, and was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Grain, Geist, PRISM international, Canadian Notes & Queries, and the New Quarterly. She teaches creative writing at the University of Guelph and is the co-founder and artistic director of InkWell Workshops. Kathy Friedman lives in Toronto.

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Emma Healey, Best Young Woman Job Book: A Memoir, Random House Canada / Penguin Random House Canada

Wry, inventive, and relentlessly honest, a memoir of trying to make a living without compromising your truth.

Emma Healey just wants to be a writer, but that’s more a journey than a job, and the journey isn’t free. As a teenager, she begins her adventures in precarious employment when introduced by her actor/playwright mother to the role of “standardized patient,” performing illness as a living training dummy for medical students. In university, she joins a creative writing program, cultivating a poet’s interest in language while learning lessons about the literary world that have more to do with survival than art. Through her twenties, she writes software manuals for the world’s leading producer of online pornography, masters search engine optimization for a marketing firm run out of a bedroom by two Phish-loving brothers, narrowly escapes death as a research assistant for a television drama, and works the night shift captioning daytime TV. Along the way, as she navigates dating apps, tumultuous relationships, and the evolution of a voice that she is slowly learning to trust, she begins writing personal essays for money—and finds herself embroiled in a content economy that blurs the boundaries between day job and making art even further.

Through the stories of several very odd jobs, each related to—but also achingly far from—the job she really wants, poet and essayist Emma Healey creates a unique snapshot of the gig economy that is also a timeless meditation on identity, value, and language. For a writer trying to pay the bills, life can be a work in progress.

Emma Healey has published two collections of poetry, Begin with the End in Mind and Stereoblind. Her poems and essays have been featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the FADER, the Hairpin, Real Life, The National Post, TheGlobe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Canadian Art, Raptors HQ and many other outlets. She was formerly poetry critic at The Globe and Mail and is a regular contributor to the music blog Said the Gramophone. She was the recipient of the Irving Layton Award for Creative Writing in both 2010 and 2013, a National Magazine  Award  nominee in 2015, and a finalist for the K.M. Hunter Artist Awards in 2016.

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Stuart Ross, The Book of Grief and Hamburgers, ECW Press

A poignant meditation on mortality from a beloved Canadian poet.

A writer friend once pointed out that whenever Stuart Ross got close to something heavy and “real” in a poem, a hamburger would inevitably appear for comic relief. In this hybrid essay/memoir/poetic meditation, Ross shoves aside the heaping plate of burgers to wrestle with what it means to grieve the people one loves and what it means to go on living in the face of an enormous accumulation of loss. Written during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortly after the sudden death of his brother left him the last living member of his family and as a catastrophic diagnosis meant anticipating the death of his closest friend, this meditation on mortality — a kind of literary shiva — is Ross’s most personal book to date. More than a catalogue of losses, The Book of Grief and Hamburgers is a moving act of resistance against self-annihilation and a desperate attempt to embrace all that was good in his relationships with those most dear to him.

Stuart Ross is the author of 20 books of fiction, poetry, and essays. He received the 2019 Harbourfront Festival Prize, the 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, and the 2010 ReLit Award for Short Fiction. His work has been translated into Nynorsk, French, Spanish, Estonian, Slovenian and Russian. Stuart lives in Cobourg, Ontario.

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English Language Finalists - Trillium Book Award For Poetry

Madhur Anand, Parasitic Oscillations, McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House Canada

A stunning new collection of poems that examine various aspects of living and practicing as both a poet and scientist in the Anthropocene during a time of unravelling.

The poems in Madhur Anand’s second collection interrogate the inevitability of undesired cyclic variation caused by feedback in the amplifying devices of both poetry and science.

There are several interacting currents: the poet’s own work between the arts and the sciences, living between North American and Indian cultures, as well as examining contemporary environments through the lag effects of the past. Weaving in a close reading of A.O. Hume’s The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds (1889), anticolonial, intertextual, feminist, electronic, and diasporic relationships are examined against the backdrop of unprecedented ecological collapse. Here, birds are often no longer direct subjects of metaphor, but rather remain strange, sometimes silent, a kind of menacing and stray capacitance, but can still act as harbingers of discovery and hope.

Fluctuating through extreme highs and lows, both emotional and environmental, while examining a myriad of philosophical and ethical dilemmas, Parasitic Oscillations is an enlightening, thought-provoking, and profoundly beautiful work that both informs and questions.

Madhur Anand’s debut book of prose This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart (2020) won the Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction. Her debut collection of poems A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (2015) was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, named one of 10 all-time "trailblazing" poetry collections by the CBC and received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly. Her second collection of poems Parasitic Oscillations (2022) was published to international acclaim and named the "top pick" for Spring poetry by the CBC. She is a professor of ecology and sustainability at the University of Guelph, where she was appointed the inaugural Director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research.

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Laurie D. Graham, Fast Commute, McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House Canada

Here is a lament for places in flux, where industrial, commercial, or suburban development encroaches or invades. From Highway 401 to Refinery Row east of Edmonton, from Lake Ontario to the Fraser River, this long poem takes aim at the structures that support ecological injustice and attempts new forms of expression grounded in respect for flora, fauna, water, land, and air. It also wrestles with the impossibility of speaking ethically about “the environment” as a settler living within and benefiting from the will to destroy that so often doubles as nationalism.

Following physical routes and terrains, Fast Commute exists both within and outside the dissociative registers of colonialism and capitalism. This deeply engaging book offers a way to see, learn about, and live in relationship with other-than-human life, and to begin dealing with loss on a grand scale.

Laurie D. Graham grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta). She currently lives in Nogojiwanong, in the territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg (Peterborough, Ontario), where she is a writer, an editor, and the publisher of Brick magazine. Her first book, Rove, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. Her second book, Settler Education, was a finalist for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, won the Thomas Morton Poetry Prize, and appeared in the Best Canadian Poetry anthology. Laurie’s maternal family comes from around Derwent, Alberta, by way of Ukraine and Poland, and her paternal family comes from around Semans, Saskatchewan, by way of Northern Ireland and Scotland. She has about a century of history in Canada.

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Sanna Wani, My Grief, the Sun, House of Anansi Press

In Sanna Wani’s poems, each verse is ode and elegy. The body is the page, time is a friend, and every voice, a soul. Sharply political and frequently magical, these often-intimate poems reach for everything from Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 film Princess Mononoke to German Orientalist scholarship on early Islam. From concrete to confessional, exegesis to erasure, the Missinnihe river in Canada to the Zabarwan mountains in Kashmir, My Grief, the Sun undoes genre, listens carefully to the planet’s breathing, addresses an endless and ineffable you, and promises enough joy and sorrow to keep growing.

Sanna Wani loves daisies. Her work has appeared in Brick, Poem-A-Day (, and Best Canadian Poetry 2020. She lives in Mississauga, Ontario, and Srinagar, Kashmir. This is her first collection of poetry.

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French-Language Finalists

Andrée Lacelle, dire, Éditions Prise de parole

In this three-part collection, Andrée Lacelle looks back at her 40 years of writing, opening the window on her studio where an incredible work is built. A fruitful work on memory, this group of texts highlights her poetic process and gives us an appreciation of her thoroughness and generosity.

The first part, “Des mots”, leads us along the enchanting path, which has always characterized Andrée Lacelle’s relationship with writing. The texts combine prose, poetry, reading notes, and extratextual references, exposing the limitless ramifications of artistic creation.

In the second part of the collection, she has a conversation with Nicole Brossard on the themes of travel, dialogue, and poetry. Drawing on their own texts, but also on the major works of their time, these two major literary figures discuss the leitmotifs in their books, what the creative process has taught them, and the explorations they would like to undertake.

Lastly, “Préhistoires” explores the primitive impulse that engenders any poem. Femininity, writing, and myths intertwine to deliver a rich reflection on words, the ones we grasp and the ones that slip away.

Born in Hawkesbury, Andrée Lacelle has published 10 poetry collections. She was the first Francophone to receive the French-Language Trillium Book Award for Tant de vie s’égare (Éditions du Vermillon, 1994 [2007]), the first official Francophone poet of the City of Ottawa, and the first Francophone inducted into the Ottawa International Poetry Festival (VERSeFest Ottawa) Hall of Fame. Sol Ciel Ciels Sols (Prise de parole, collection BCF), a retrospective on her work, with a preface by François Paré, was published in 2015. Her poetry has been translated into English and Czech.

She co-wrote and edited pas d’ici, pas d’ailleurs, Anthologie poétique de voix féminines contemporaines (Voix d’encre, 2012) and edited the Poèmes de la résistance (Prise de parole, 2019) and Poèmes de la Cité (David, 2020) collections.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Gilles Lacombe, Circé des hirondelles, Éditions L'Interligne

Circé des hirondelles is centred around the relationship between two characters: the on who forms a portrait of elle, a feminine identity, an allegorical figure of life itself that embodies fragility, beauty, death, nature, poetry, and language all at once. It is a sad and silky song, a ravageuse magnificence.

Gilles Lacombe is a visual artist (painter and designer) and poet. He has written the collections Mais ailleurs que le vent (2013) and Trafiquante de lumière (2005) published by Éditions L’Interligne. Neige-galerie published Broderies du Michoacan in 2014.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Gilles Latour, Feux du naufrage, Éditions L'Interligne

In Feux du naufrage, the poet devotes himself to a hungry hunt, a perpetual quest, and a troubling, moving, and visionary authenticity. We witness the genesis of an intuitive apprehension, which is built in a spiralling dynamism of language.

Born in Cornwall, Gilles Latour grew up in Ottawa and studied literature in Montreal. He earns his livelihood working for humanitarian organizations around the world but, wherever he is, he lives on poetry. He now resides in Ottawa, where Éditions L’Interligne has published five of his collections.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Marie-Thé Morin, Frontières libres, Éditions Prise de parole

Eighteen strangers board a train that runs the very long Ottawa-Kingston-Toronto-Hearst route. They share the same goal: to travel without incident and in relative peace.

Suddenly, in the middle of the night, the train derails, and all the passengers are thrown against each other. While waiting for help that is slow to appear, the characters, deprived of all contact with the outside world, begin trusting each other and forming relationships. Gestures—of mutual aid, compassion, resourcefulness, candour, and heroism, but also those of cowardice and opportunism—are made, revealing the true nature of each and every one on the train. And so, the interrupted journey opens up new pathways for them.

The play Frontières libres is the outcome of a collective creative process overseen by Théâtre Action. It was written by Marie-Thé Morin, following workshops held in four community theatres in Ontario.

Co-founder of Vox Théâtre, Marie-Thé Morin is a dramatist, novelist, screenwriter, translator, storyteller, and songwriter originally from Ottawa. With publisher Prise de parole, she has published a novel, Gustave, and the children’s plays Oz (in collaboration with Pier Rodier), Ti-Jean de partout, and Cyrano Tag. Her television series Eaux turbulentes (Radio-Canada, 2019-2020) made her a finalist for the prestigious International Format Award in the “Best Scripted Format” category.

Marie-Thé has played several memorable characters in productions with the Vox Théâtre, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, Triangle Vital, Bébitte poétique, Théâtre du Trillium, Théâtre de la Vieille 17 and Théâtre de Sable. Currently, she is devoting herself to creating new stories for the stage and the virtual world, including Conte Xtrême, translating plays from the Anglo-Canadian repertoire, and writing the sequel to Errances.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Nancy Vickers, Capharnaüm, Éditions David

Elsa is an amazing woman who likes spiders and motley objects more than anything. From childhood, and until her death, she accumulates all kinds of found objects, purchased or even custom-made for her, objects that end up cluttering her house to the point that it has become unsanitary. This mania damages all of Elsa’s interpersonal relationships: with her mother, who throws her out of the family home; her husband, who leaves her; and her daughter, who is cared for by her in-laws. Her obsession with collecting leads her to meeting a series of characters, mostly women, each more unique than the last.

Established in Ottawa for more than 40 years, Nancy Vickers has published numerous novels and stories set at the border of fantasy, the Gothic, and eroticism. Fascinated by compulsive accumulators, better known as hoarders, the novelist explores this Diogenes syndrome, which leads those afflicted with it into the worst kind of chaos, and even to madness.

Publisher’s website [French only]:

French-Language Trillium Children’s Literature Award Finalists

Pierre-Luc Bélanger, Dany à la dérive, Éditions David

With a Franco-Ontarian father and Haitian mother, Dany Beauregard believes that he is too Black for white people, too clean for druggies, not sporty enough for athletes, not talented enough for artists, and not handsome enough for girls. So, he is always Trop Ou Pas Assez: TOPA, too much or not enough, the nickname with which he is saddled.

Nevertheless, he discovers that he has two passions: tattoos and sailing. So that he can enjoy both, he walks dogs, washes dishes, and hangs out with Derek, a teenager that uses a wheelchair, who also understands loneliness.

Determined to find some meaning in his life and to grow, he is just waiting until he can graduate from high school to set sail, pun intended. Destination: Miami. Job: Crew member on a sailing yacht. Goal: realize his dreams and become who he has always wanted to be.

In this uplifting adventure, Pierre-Luc Bélanger highlights the importance of ignoring what others think and instead, relentlessly following the path of one’s passions.

Born in Ottawa, Pierre-Luc Bélanger earned a Bachelor’s degree in French literature and history, and a Master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Ottawa. Since then, he has been a high school French teacher and a school board literacy teaching advisor in Ottawa. Dany à la dérive is his fifth teen novel.

Publisher’s website [French only]:

Hélène Koscielniak, Mégane et Mathis, Éditions David

What is the “Menace” that terrorizes Mégane? Mathis does not understand his twin anymore. Why does she refuse to eat? According to their father, she weighs no more than a little bird. Will a psychotherapist be able to help her? Or will the secrets of Jerzy, her boyfriend, help her?

From the beginning of the novel, we understand that Mégane is suffering from a complex eating disorder, but what lies behind this “Menace” is unknown to us, and keeps the reader in suspense. Will she manage to overcome what she perceives as a danger?

Without ever resorting to moralizing or didacticism, Hélène Koscielniak, frankly and sensitively, takes on the various facets of anorexia while presenting its consequences for her teenage character and her loved ones.

A resident of Kapuskasing, Hélène Koscielniak is a prolific novelist, whose work is some of the most important in Francophone Ontario. The winner of numerous literary prizes, she has published several novels with Éditions L’Interligne. Specifically, Marraine, Filleul, Frédéric and Génération sandwich.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Michèle Laframboise, Le secret de Paloma, Éditions David

Trapped on a planet where the air pressure drops drastically after the sun goes down, a human colony somehow survives behind an airtight curtain.

When Alouette discovers her best friend’s body in the desert, everybody laments what appears to be a suicide. Consumed by guilt, the young girl wants to know what pushed the cheerful Paloma to go out into the dunes. A heartache? A disagreement? Mysteriously, the diary that could deliver these answers has disappeared.

Could her friend’s death have something to do with the orbit of Troll, an evil comet whose tail bombards the planet with meteorites? What Alouette discovers will change the colony forever…

Both oppressive and uplifting, Le secret de Paloma raises the issues of responsibility, secrets too heavy to share, friendship, and forgiveness within a society in survival mode.

Michèle Laframboise lives in Mississauga, in Southwestern Ontario, where she divides her time between drawing, writing, and her family. With a scientific background, she has established herself as a science fiction author, concocting, with pen or brush, captivating stories set in mysterious worlds. To date, she has published around 20 novels and comic book albums as well as numerous short stories, which have earned her several distinctions and literary prizes.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]: