$1,000 awarded annually
Established: 2007, by Descant Magazine
Winners: John B. Lee, Marilyn Gear Pilling, Barbara Schott, Elizabeth Venart, Leslie Vryenhoek
1937, Wisconsin – 2005, Toronto
Following the death six years ago of English professor and mentor Winston Collins, long-time friend and Descant editor Karen Mulhallen and the late professor’s partner Andrew Smith founded the poetry award in Collins’ name. The prize aims to continue Collins’ career-long encouragement of developing writers and to commemorate his love of poetry.
Collins was a scholar of Lord Alfred Tennyson and the Romantic Poets. He taught in Cincinnati, Princeton, and at the University of Toronto. His students ran the gamut from Cynthia Good, past President and Publisher of Penguin Canada, to Paul Quarrington, author of novels, non-fiction, drama, and screenplays.
When I met Winston in London in 1973 he had a habit of reading poetry aloud in his sonorous voice. It seemed ironic that this unpretentious North American could so effortlessly bring to life English poetry that, until then, had seemed stuffy and old-fashioned. It was a talent that was much appreciated by his students at University College.
– Andrew Smith