Guernica Editions is pleased to announce that Elana Wolff’s collection You Speak to Me in Trees has been named the 2008 winner of the Italian Cultural Centre’s biennial F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for poetry. The winning titles in the other three categories are Victoria Miles for her novel, Magnifico, Darlene Madott’s Making Olives for short fiction, and Donna Caruso’s The Clothesline, for creative non-fiction. The Bressani Prize is named for the Jesuit father Francesco Giuseppe Bressani (1612-1672), and was established in 1986 to encourage and honour literary works by Italian authors as well as writers from other backgrounds. Past winners in the poetry category include Carmine Starnino, Fulvio Caccia, Olive Senior, Liliane Welch, Len Gasparini, and John Terpstra. The 2008 awards were presented at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, B.C. on November 20, 2008.
Unusual in their angle on suburban life, the poems in You Speak to Me in Trees take ordinary moments and blend them into recurring dreams, hazy memories, ancient lore, and meditations on nature, artifice, marriage, imagination, and the Jewish experience. Of the Lichen Award winning sequence included in the collection, poet and critic David Solway writes: “The Ketchikan sequence, which attracts by its mature theme and realistic take on experience without lapsing into the prosaic or commonplace, maintains what we might call ‘edge’ via deft control of syntax.”
Elana Wolff divides her time between writing, editing, and facilitating therapeutic art. She has published four books with Guernica: Birdheart (2001), Mask (2003), and You Speak to Me in Trees (2006) — a finalist for the CBC Literary Award for Poetry and for the Acorn-Plantos Award before winning the Bressani Prize, and Slow Dancing: Creativity and Illness, Duologue and Rengas (2008), co-authored with the late Malca Litovitz. Elana’s fifth book with Guernica, Implicate Me— a collection of short essays on contemporary poems of Greater Toronto Area poets— is forthcoming in 2009.
Guernica Editions is a literary publisher established by Antonio D’Alfonso in 1978, and based in Toronto. The press is committed to the publication of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction books that “deal, in one way or another, with the pleasurable understanding of different cultures.” Guernica has published an impressive array of 450 titles, and, taking into account its anthologies, the works of over 800 authors from Canada and around the world. Guernica writers have won numerous national and international awards, including the Pat Lowther Award, the Governor General’s Award, the American Book Award, the Canadian Jewish Book Award, the F.R. Scott Translation Award, and the Bressani Prize, to name a few. Guernica celebrated its 30th anniversary in December, 2008.
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