Jeramy Dodds was named the winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry for his debut collection, Crabwise to the Hounds, at the 22nd annual awards ceremony in Toronto yesterday.
Dodds receives a $10,000 prize, joining fellow Trillium winners Pasha Malla (English-language book award), Marguerite Andersen (French-language book award) and Paul Prud’homme (children’s literature in French-language), announced the Honourable Aileen Carroll, Ontario Minister of Culture. Dodds’ publisher, Coach House Books, receives $2,000.
Speaking by phone from his hotel room in Toronto following the awards presentation, Dodds said the money will help him continue his craft. “I’m going to use it to keep writing,” he said. With his work shortlisted for the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize, and the League of Canadian Poets’ 2009 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, Dodds said these nominations put “a little bit of pressure on a second book.” Referring to his much heralded first book, he asked rhetorically, “What do you do now to equal it?”
But undaunted, Dodds has already started working on his next project, a translation of the Old Norse collection The Poetic Edda, some of the poems of which he has already had published in literary journals. He said he plans to move to Iceland in the fall, where he will work on a masters degree in Medieval Icelandic Studies – to aid his translation of the poems.
Speaking at a poetry reading held in Kirby earlier this month, Dodds said that the local community and the local landscape helped to shape Crabwise to the Hounds, although “these autobiographical elements” were buried in metaphor. “Using metaphor is the true way to emotion and meaning… so if you’re wondering what part of this community is in this work, you have to do a bit of digging, but I assure you it’s there,” he told the audience.
“It’s great to see a lot of the old faces from the area,” he said yesterday, of his recent return to the Orono area. “It was nice to see the community being supportive, as they always are, and also to get the support on the other side, of the Griffin nomination, and the Trillium award.” Dodds said that with the many renowned poets who have won the Trillium before him, “it kind of backs up” his book, giving it not just more publicity, but also literary credentials.
The Ontario government established the Trillium Awards in 1987 to recognize the literary excellence and diversity of Ontario writers. Today, it is considered the province’s foremost award for literature. It is also among the most highly regarded national and international literary prizes, with previous winners including such literary giants as Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje.
“The Trillium Book Awards is a treasured literary tradition that celebrates Ontario’s authors, the publishing industry that nurtures them, and the substantial contribution they make to our society and economy,” said Carroll.
Dodds grew up in Orono, and currently lives in Fredericton. His poems have been translated into Finnish, French, Latvian, Swedish, German and Icelandic. In 2007, he held a residency at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators on the island of Gotland, Sweden.
He is also the winner of the 2006 Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award, and the 2007 CBC Literary Award in poetry. He has worked as a research archaeologist and as co-editor of littlefishcartpress. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of New Brunswick.