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Literature award goes to book edited by Ruth Panofsky

Photo: Marta Kierkus

It’s award season in North America, and the University of Ottawa’s publisher of literature has scooped up one of its own.

The University of Ottawa Press won the highly regarded Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (PROSE) award for publication in literature.

The deciding work was The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington, edited by professor Ruth Panofsky of Ryerson University. Panofsky brought Waddington’s work back to print for the first time since 1986, along with previously unpublished poems and translations.

The award is often given to Ivy League-affiliated publishing houses such as the Harvard University Press, Columbia University Press, and Princeton University Press.

“We were all thrilled. You should have heard us in the office, it was total mayhem,” said U of O Press director Lara Mainville. “We’re all thrilled for Ruth.”

Mainville said she has not seen an achievement with that level of grandeur in her three years at the university.

She said what made the book so distinctive and award worthy was its controversial tone and play on the female experience. According to the submission statement the publisher sent to PROSE, “Waddington’s poetry has not received the critical attention it warrants.”

Waddington was the first Jewish-Canadian woman to publish poetry in English, while also playing a significant role in modernist Canadian poetry. The collection features poems on intoxicating love, marriage, and motherhood, on dealing with the death of her ex-husband, and on growing old.

Panofsky is a professor of English and specializes in Canadian literature and culture. Mainville says the reason why she chose to edit Waddington’s book at the U of O Press was because of its reputation and extensive Canadian collection.

“It’s a darn good collection,” said Mainville. She also gave credit to the tremendous help of the Canadian literature series editor Dean Irvine, who she said whipped the stories into even better shape by giving encouraging feedback.

“He’s been doing an amazing job developing the series,” said Mainville. “Of course, it’s always a team effort.”