YORK REGION AUTHOR FINALIST FOR PREMIER’S ARTS AWARD
York Region author and poet Barry Dempster has been selected as one of six finalists for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. The Premier’s Award recognizes outstanding achievement and contribution to arts and culture in Ontario during a significant period of time. Six finalists are chosen from various arts disciplines and each is given $2,000 with one finalist selected who will receive $35,000 and will name an emerging artist in their field to receive a prize of $15,000.
Barry Dempster was born in Toronto and educated in child psychology. He is the author 15 books including a novel, a children's book, two volumes of short stories and eleven collections of poetry. He has been nominated for the Governor General's Award for literature twice, for his first book, Fables for Isolated Men (Guernica) and for The Burning Alphabet (Brick Books) which won the Canadian Authors Association Chalmers Award for poetry. From 1990 to 1997, he was Poetry and Reviews Editor for Poetry Canada Review which quickly became one of Canada's most esteemed literary magazines. During this time, Dempster became known for his helpful, supportive letters to budding writers, his astute book reviews and his "New Voice" discoveries of some of Canada's finest poets . He is currently the senior acquisitions editor with Brick Books where he has discovered and edited many of Canada's best emerging poets. He has been on the faculty at The Banff Centre as mentor for the Writing Studio twice, the Wired Writing program and the Writing with Style program in fall 2010. He has read across Canada and Ontario many times, in England and the U.S. and is in constant demand at author reading series and festivals.
Dempster lives in York Region where he runs a very popular film series "Southlake Cinemania" which has raised over $100,000 to support literacy in the community. He presents an annual Poetry Gala to a packed house at the Richmond Hill Public Library where he presents 5 important new and established writers. He served on the East Gwillimbury Library Board for 12 years and was the chair for 5 during which time a new library was built in Mount Albert. He has been the Writer-in-Residence at the Richmond Hill Public Library twice where he has mentored over 150 writers and attracted large attendance to his inspiring writing workshops. He runs two book discussion groups and regularly conducts writing courses in short fiction and poetry. In 2009, the Barry Dempster Young Writers Award was created to acknowledge his role in inspiring young students to value their writing ability and recognize the power of words. He has presented writing workshops in many schools and universities in Ontario and conducts master classes in writing in Santiago Chile.
The award ceremony will be given by the Ontario Government and will take place Thursday June 10, 2010 in Toronto and will be hosted by CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi. For more information contact: www.barrydempster.com and www.ontario.ca