Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The 29th Alcuin Society Awards Handed Out in Toronto Monday Evening

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Alcuin Society Awards books

The Arts and Letters Club hosted the 29th annual Alcuin Society Awards this past Monday night in Toronto. These awards are dedicated to the art of book design in Canada. This particular event honoured those winners in Ontario and Eastern Canada.

Designers were presented first, second, third place and honourable mention awards for books in the following categories: children, limited editions, pictorial, poetry, prose fiction, prose non-fiction, prose non-fiction illustrated and reference.

Several presses were well represented at the awards, including Greenboathouse Press, Coach House Press, Douglas & McIntyre, les éditions du passage, Gaspereau Press and Porcupine's Quill, among other individual award winning houses.

Multiple award winning designers at the event were Peter Cocking, Linda Gustafson, Andrew Steeves and Jessica Sullivan.

The Alcuin Society also took the opportunity to honour the three past recipients of their lifetime achievement award, the Robert R. Reid Award. A rather handsome medal of honour, set in a book, was designed by Robert Chaplin for the previous winners: Frank Newfeld, Jim Rimmer and Glenn Goluska.

Brian Maloney (of the Toronto Type Club, Humber College and Massey College) spoke eloquently and in-depth about the three past recipients. His 15 minute presentation involved multiple slides representing the past recipient's work. It felt like a survey in 20th century Canadian printing (in the best possible way).

Frank Newfeld was the honorary guest of the evening. Bill Toye, the legendary editor at Oxford University Press Canada and a designer himself, introduced Newfeld with a detailed and personal biography of Newfeld (the two have worked together multiple times). Toye also brought along original copies of many examples of Newfeld's work, which he allowed others to inspect after the presentation. Seeing some of these fine examples of print craftsmanship is a testament to the enduring legacy of those that were being honoured on this evening.

Newfeld then spoke about his career, as well as about the uncertain future of the print industry. He was particularly concerned with the future of children's literature, as he has contributed heavily to that canon over his lengthy career. Newfeld's work has found it's way into the hands of no doubt every Canadian today at some point in our lives, as he has been involved in literally hundreds of publications, including some of the most well regarded and iconic books in Canadian literature. So it was no surprise that everyone in the room hung on his every word.

Celebrated designer and head of art direction at Random House Canada, CS Richardson, then spoke about the state of the industry, the high calibre of the work of the evening's winners and the uncertain future of print design in Canada. This last topic, of course, is seemingly a mandatory speaking point at all industry events over the last few years, but Mr. Richardson dealt with the fears of the room rather cleverly, by turning the St. Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V into a rousing call to arms to defend of the printed book. It acted as a perfect denouement for a dignified and engaging celebration of the well-made book.

A complete list of winners, along with rather detailed and intriguing remarks from the jurors can be read at the Alcuin Society website, which can be found here.

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