[Series] Meet the Publishers of the 2015 Vancouver Book Award Finalists – Nightwood Editions

City of Vancouver Book Award 2015 - Publisher Silas White of Nightwood Editions with spring 2015 authors Bren Simmers, Raoul Fernandes, Rita Wong and Trisha Cull.

City of Vancouver Book Award 2015 – Publisher Silas White of Nightwood Editions with spring 2015 authors Bren Simmers, Raoul Fernandes, Rita Wong and Trisha Cull.

Silas White has been the Publisher of Nightwood Editions since 2000. The company is nominated in 2015 for Hastings-Sunrise. Nightwood Editions was first shortlisted for our Book Award in 2003 for Intimate Distances by Fiona Tinwei Lam and most recently in 2014 for How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? by Doretta Lau.

You can connect with Silas at: nightwoodeditions.com, at www.facebook.com/NightwoodEditions or on Twitter: @NightwoodEd

Silas White of Nightwood Editions answers our 10 Questions!

We asked Silas 10 questions about what gets him to work in the morning, why authors who pitch their books can actually get published, and what impact awards can have on authors and publishers.

How/when/why did you get into the publishing business?
I grew up in publishing. It was happening in my garage, then in my basement, and by the time I was a teenager it expanded to the house across the street.

How did Nightwood Editions get established?
It was established as blewointment magazine and press in the 1960s by bill bissett. It’s one of the oldest publishing companies in Canada.

What keeps you coming into the office in the morning?
Waking up—it’s in my house.

Describe a Nightwood Editions book.
We go for dynamic, original voices. Rather than promote sameness, or any particular school of writing, we want to present a diverse list.

How did you meet or connect with Bren Simmers?
I was familiar with her first book of poetry, Night Gears.

Why did you acquire Hastings-Sunrise?
Bren submitted it. She deserves credit for making a really strong pitch for the book, drawing my attention. I also obviously helped that I was already aware of her work.

What image, phrase, or person from Hastings-Sunrise stands out for you?
The entire neighbourhood, in a book.

How does Hastings-Sunrise fit into your company’s list?
“Community” is a concept we value at Nightwood. We strive to be a community or creators and readers that does not look inwardly but reaches out beyond a self-imposed insularity often associated with writing and poetry especially. Hastings-Sunrise is probably one of the best examples on our list of a book that makes poetry a relevant and powerful component of the contemporary world around us, a part of the everyday dialogue—as poetry should be.

What impact does an award nomination have on a company, book, or author?
Awards have a tremendous impact in broadening the exposure and audience of a book. Authors put their souls into writing a book, often for years on end, and can sometimes receive little recognition for their work beyond a devoted publisher like Nightwood honouring and sharing their vision. So recognition in the form of awards is a huge boost, especially from an institution such as the City of Vancouver that ultimately and professionally represents the public at large.

Who should read this book?
In poetry circles, I think anyone interested in poetry of geography. In the context of so much Canadian poetry about the rural landscape, this is a fascinating and exceptional “field study.” More broadly, it is a must-read for anyone familiar with the Hastings–Sunrise neighbourhood. I definitely think anyone living in an urban neighbourhood will find it inspiring, too—I’ve never lived in Hastings–Sunrise but reading this book filled me with memories or the quirks, characters and qualities of various neighbourhoods I’ve inhabited in Canadian cities and towns.


The 27th annual City of Vancouver Book Award will be presented at the Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre on November 12, 2015. The books on this year’s shortlist cover a range of genres: non-fiction, short stories, poetry, and a children’s book. The short-listed books create a street-level walk through our city to amplify our pride and understanding of the flawed and beautiful, young but wise city we inhabit.

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