Burt Works

So I have several things going on with the Burt Award people right now – notably the workshop I’ll be facilitating this weekend and serving as a judge for the 2015 prize, plus the reading this Friday (7 p.m. at the Best of Books), also under the banner of CODE sponsors of the Burt Award, from my new book Musical Youth, which exists as a published book thanks to placing second for the Burt Award earlier this year.

Collecting the second place Burt Award trophy, 2014, in Trinidad.

Collecting the second place Burt Award trophy, 2014, in Trinidad.

I held the physical book for the first time in my hands yesterday. WIN_20141119_164653 WIN_20141119_164553 WIN_20141119_164548And there’s just so much good and surprising behind the scenes amidst the bumps and hurdles (yes, they’re still there). it’s a weird time and I’m kind of all over the emotional map right now and, as a result, weirdly numb. I have no idea how it’ll feel to collect the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award later tonight for instance, because it’s kind of an odd and unexpected position to be in. it’s a blessing and a curse that I don’t have a lot of time right now for ruminating (which also means, unfortunately, not a lot of time to take it in) as I’m supposed to be running a two-day workshop this weekend and I have lots of books to read for the prize and I have my own reading to prepare for…and all the other stuff that has not been getting the attention it needs (if I’ve dropped the ball on something, please bear with me…). Anyway, I did want to take a minute to share with you the work of the Burt Award people, CODE, because they are a big part of everything that’s happening right now with me, and also because what they’re doing is potentially transformative work. So, please read on.

Burt Award Writing Workshops

The Burt Award

The Burt Award is a unique global literary award and readership initiative aiming to provide youth everywhere with access to books they will want to read. Established by CODE and made possible by the generosity of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the Award addresses an ongoing shortage of relevant, quality books for young people, while at the same time promoting a love of reading and learning at the middle and secondary school levels.

The Burt Award is offered in four African countries, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya, and has now also expanded to Canada and the Caribbean.

The intent of the prize is to champion literacy, build language skills and foster the love and habit of reading amongst youth and young adults.

Specific objectives are:

  • to recognize excellence in literature for young people;
  • to support and motivate the development of and access to high quality, culturally relevant reading materials at a critical stage of learning;
  • to support the development and acquisition of language skills  and to help foster  enthusiasm for and a love of reading;
  • to stimulate and support local publishing industries and celebrate the rich literary heritage of the countries and regions where we work;
  • to increase the stock of locally produced, English-language literature in libraries, schools, and community centres throughout the countries and regions where we work.

Burt Award Writing Workshops

Burt Award writing workshops are intended to help emerging or established writers of books for children or young adults, or writers interested in learning more about writing for young adults, develop their skills, deepen their understanding of writing strategies appropriate for this age group, and encourage them to submit their work for consideration for the Burt Award. CODE engages local in-country organizations and local facilitators to help host and lead the writing workshops. CODE also enlists the help of prominent and well-respected Canadian writers and publishers who volunteer to travel to co-facilitate the workshops.

Workshops can last from 1-3 days, and typically serve groups of 20-25 writers. The format is workshop style, with some lecture, some discussion, and lots of opportunity for writers to practice their craft.
You can learn more about Burt Award by clicking here:


About CODE

If you can read and write, you can learn to do, and be, anything. That’s the idea behind CODE. A Canadian NGO with over 50 years of experience, CODE supports literacy and learning in Canada and around the world. CODE works in partnership with local organizations to expand literacy in Africa and the Caribbean by providing children and youth with access to quality reading materials, supporting professional development for teachers and librarians, and strengthening national and local book publishing. In Canada, CODE has worked for over twenty-five years to engage Canadian teachers and students on literacy and global issues, and has established partnerships with Canadian educators, writers, and publishing industry.



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