25th Trillium Award

Trillium Takes Ontario: Mathew Henderson

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Open Book loves Trillium season! Find out more about the talented authors nominated for the Trillium Book Award by following our special new series. In our final installment, Mathew Henderson tells us how lonely nights awake on an oil lease can be channeled into arresting poetry. He was nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry for his first book, The Lease (Coach House Press), also shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book.

The winners of the Trillium Awards will be announced at a special event on Tuesday, June 18th. Check back with Open Book for news of the announcement.

Open Book:

What was one source of inspiration for your Trillium-nominated book, and how did that spark find its way into the final version of your project?

Mathew Henderson:

I kept thinking of this image of an oil lease at night when the light of the flare stack creates a kind of dome, and it begin to feel like you?re the only person alive, and you can hear the insects, coyotes, cows and other animals out in the darkness. It?s a really lonely image, and I was fascinated by the alienation of being separated from those sounds, but also being so close to them for lack of anything else to relate to. I guess it isn?t hard to see how this image found its way into the book. I?ve basically just written a partial summary of a long poem.


What was an essential part of your writing routine while you worked on this book?


My routine itself shifted and changed a lot while I wrote this. The only constants in the process were my readers. I showed drafts to my partner, Hillary, my editor, Kevin Connolly, and so many brilliant friends. And these interactions just pushed me to write and edit more.


What location in Ontario do you think would make the best writers' retreat, and why?


Ah! I?m desperate to see more of Ontario, especially Northern Ontario. I love Toronto, but I?ve spent almost all of my time here, so my opinion on writer?s retreat locations isn?t worth much. However, I?d happily volunteer to try out the locations everyone else suggests.

Mathew Henderson is a recent graduate of the University of Guelph?s MFA program. Originally from Prince Edward Island, he now lives in Toronto, writes about the prairies and teaches at Humber College.

For more information about The Lease please visit the Coach House Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Visit the OMDC website to read more about the Trillium Book Award.

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