A big congratulations goes out to Toronto-based press House of Anansi for publishing this year’s ReLit short story winner, Bill Gaston’s Gargoyles. The ReLit award is set up to give well deserved attention to books produced by the independent presses throughout Canada. House of Anansi’s winning entry is joined a number of its other publications on the poetry and novel short list. (Also nominated for the long list was Torontoist’s very own Sharon Harris for her wonderful book Avatar.)
It is heartening to see the smaller presses getting bigger and gaining recognition. House of Anansi has grown from relatively small and independent to a middleweight press, approaching some of the big boys. Deniro’s Game and The Immaculate Conception were put on the short list for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize and Airstream Land Yacht was nominated for this year’s Griffin Prize. To think it wasn’t so long ago that they were releasing upstart authors with experimental agendas.
What is surprising is that Coach House Books were left almost completely off the short lists, with their only entry coming in the novel category. Coach House consistently commits to poetry on the fringes and creates books not as merchandise but as art objects that extend the writing within the covers. Toronto poet (and the author of one of Torontoist’s Books of The Year) a. rawlings and Matrix Magazine editor Jon Paul Fiorentino definitely deserved closer consideration.
As one last note, make sure to check out the apostrophe engine. Created by Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler-Henry, it has been compiled into a book by the same title (ECW Press) and also made the ReLit short list. The program co-opts Google and scours webpages for the phrase “you are” and compiles the entries into a series of list poems. Each phrase you click on generates more lists that start with “you are” and, because it uses Google, you’ll get a different poem everytime. Hours of literary fun for the almost weekend!
Photo courtesy of House of Anansi Press