The Nickel City literary community is mourning the death of award-winning Francophone author Michel Dallaire, who passed away suddenly April 25.
Sudbury.com interviewed the 60-year-old several times over the years, most recently last October after he released two poetry books, bringing the total number of books he’d published in his lifetime to 18.
In 2015, he won a couple of awards for his novel, In Violoncelle pour lune d’automne.
He was presented with a French-language Trillium Award, as well as the Prix Christine Dumitriu-van-Saanen. Dallaire was nominated for the Trillium Award three times previously.
“I’d been nominated but never won, so I didn’t expect very much,” Dallaire told Sudbury.com last year. “The competition was very stiff. It was my turn, I guess.”
Dallaire recently participated in the Sudbury Street Poetry Project, where poems by local poets are displayed in local businesses.
He was actually supposed to attend the project’s launch in the evening of April 25, on the same day he died.
“I was so honoured that he even submitted because he’s of such a stature that I thought surely he might be above this,” said the city’s poet laureate, Kim Fahner, who organized the Sudbury Street Poetry Project.
She said she’d received an email from Dallaire just last week, expressing how excited he was about the project, so she was surprised he hadn’t attended the launch. Fahner found out about his death later that evening.
Dallaire’s poem is displayed at Salute Coffee Company in the South End as part of the Sudbury Street Poetry Project. Fahner suggests people honour his life by reading the poem if they’re at Salute.
“It’s a loss to the city on so many levels,” Fahner said.
Daniel Aubin, who was the city’s poet laureate from 2012 to 2014, said he considered Dallaire a mentor.
“Michel Dallaire is one of Sudbury’s great writers,” he said in an email to Sudbury.com.
“His presence will be missed and his impact will doubtlessly be felt for generations. He has left us an impressive and important body of work. He was a prolific writer, plying his trade through short stories, novels and, most of all, poetry.
“Michel was a mentor to many young Francophone writers, myself included. He gave me invaluable feedback on my first manuscript and helped me cultivate a critical eye towards my own work.
“Like many friends and colleagues, I look forward to rereading him and celebrating his work.”