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About the Award

The Matt Cohen Award recognizes a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer working in poetry or prose in either French or English. The prize was established in celebration of the life of Matt Cohen, a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada.

2021 Winner


Selection Committee Citation

“Frances Itani was a nurse for eight years before she took a writing course from W.O. Mitchell. Since then, she has published 18 books,” said the committee. “Time after time, Itani tells an intimate, universal, and poignant story. Her sculpted prose, quietly breathtaking, leaves us haunted and yearning for more.”

— 2021 Matt Cohen Award Jury (Patsy Aldana, Wayne Grady, and Olive Senior)

Author Page
“Winning the Matt Cohen Award is a really significant and profoundly touching life-changing honour, and I thank you incredibly much.”

— Richard Wagamese

2015 Matt Cohen Award winner

About Matt Cohen

A founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, Mr. Cohen was a celebrated and prolific writer who died in 1999 at the age of 56. This prize was established in his name by a group of anonymous donors.


Lorraine Greey

Writers’ Trust thanks David and Marla Lehberg for their longstanding support of this prize.