Slocan Valley author Tom Wayman has been awarded the province’s 2022 George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.
Since 1994, the prize has honored an outstanding literary career in the province. The award, which comes with a $5,000 honorarium, is presented jointly by the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Public Library, and BC BookWorld, partnered with the Writers Trust of Canada and Yosef Wosk.
Past winners include Nobel laureate Alice Munro (2005), David Suzuki (2011), Joy Kogawa (2008) and journalists Barry Broadfoot (1997) and Paul St. Pierre (2000).
Starting in 1973, Wayman has published two dozen collections of poems, as well as three collections of short stories, a novel, and four collections of essays. He has edited six poetry anthologies. Wayman has lived in Appledale since 1989.
“I’m especially pleased the award this year has gone to someone from the West Kootenay,” Wayman said. “So much literary activity takes place here. Our breathtaking natural setting in all four seasons, plus a highly opinionated population of strong-minded characters makes the area ideal for writers.”
Wayman said one of the pleasures of living in the Kootenays is the wide scope of the area’s writing community. “I think of our tireless historians like the late Ron Welwood. On the literary side are excellent writers like Ernest Hekkanen and Rita Moir, just to name two of many.”
Two of Wayman’s recent books are set in the Slocan Valley where he lives. Winter’s Skin, published by Oolichan in 2013, gathers poems of his about the valley winter together with photos of winter scenes by valley photographers Jeremy Addington and Rod Currie. The tales in Wayman’s short story collection from Douglas & McIntyre in 2015, The Shadows We Mistake For Love, are all set in the Slocan.
Wayman’s most recent book is a poetry collection, Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems for a Dark Time, published by Harbour in 2020. In 2015 he was named a Vancouver Literary Landmark, with a plaque on the city’s Commercial Drive honoring his efforts to foreground writing by people about their daily employment and its effects on them both on and off the job.
The Woodcock Award is named after UBC prof George Woodcock (1912-1995), an early champion of Canadian imaginative writing and, in 1959, founding editor of the scholarly journal Canadian Literature. He also co-authored a well-regarded history of the Doukhobors.